How to Calm Yourself Down in Stressful Situations
When we’re subjected to high-stress situations, it is easy to become angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s okay. Your feelings are valid and normal. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid all high-stress situations for the rest of your life. In fact, your brain is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. As Alex Korb explains in his book, Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, your brain notices potentially dangerous or harmful situations and triggers the hormones that cause you to feel anxious, which then kicks your brilliant pre-frontal cortex into worrying and planning how to avoid said danger. But there are better ways to cope with anxiety and stress than excessive worrying and planning. So let’s teach your brain this self-soothing technique. It’s beneficial to know how to calm yourself down when you feel like you’re just about to completely lose it . Easier said than done, right?
There are lots of great tips and tricks you can practice to manage the many stressors of life, like journaling, guided meditation or mindful breathing. Our favorite is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique.
Using this technique, you purposefully and mindfully take in the details of your environment using each of your senses. Striving to notice the fine details will allow you to focus on the moment and avoid multiple anxious thoughts.
Follow this simple pattern to calm yourself down during a tense, panicked, or uncomfortable situation…
Take a slow, deep breath. Name five things you can see. This can be a bird in the sky during your daily walk, or the stapler sitting on your desk.
Take another full breath. Find four things you can touch around you. Feel the uneven ground beneath your feet, or the soft fur of your napping pup.
Inhale and exhale. Listen for three things you can hear. Instead of listening to your own thoughts, focus on the clock ticking or hum to some music.
Take another deep breath. Notice two things you can smell. This may be the familiar smell of home, or a candle burning in the kitchen.
Fill your lungs completely and exhale fully. Identify one thing you can taste. This could be the minty taste of your gum, or the several cups of coffee getting you through the workday.
End this exercise with a long, deep breath.
By using this technique, you are focusing on your senses and therefore focusing on the moment. This exercise will help you be more mindful, which will help you feel more in control of your anxieties and stressful days.
Taking control of your anxieties can also mean giving yourself permission to practice self-care. Not sure how? Let us help! We have a FREE how-to guide on all things self care that will help you be mindful of your habits and goals. Go to www.selfcaretips.org/freeguide to download your FREE self care guide and start your self love journey today!