When you’re in the middle of a complete freakout, it can seem nearly impossible to calm down. The world is spinning, you can’t hear anything but noise, everything starts aching, and so many more things. How on earth are you going to be able to reach that moment of zen?
Honestly, it can be hard. But if you take the time and try a few different tricks, chances are good you’ll find something to ease the stress enough for you to be able to function again. So, without further ado, here’s some of my top choices!
Take a Deep Breath!
Have you heard of belly breathing? Well, you should because belly breathing is your friend. It’s actually proven to trigger a chain reaction that instantly decreases stress (although, it doesn’t necessarily eliminate it) and that makes it the fastest fix for a major bout of anxiety. I’m sure you’ve been told to take a deep breath when you’re anxious, but belly breathing takes it a bit further. If you want to know more, I found an article that talks about how to focus on correct breathing.
Count to Ten
Yup, stealing this one straight from grade school! Counting to ten is a basic example of a trick you’ll find a little later in this list. The reason teachers always suggest it is because it can actually work. Taking the time to count to ten can actually give your brain a chance to settle down. It also triggers a different part of the brain, meaning it short circuits your panic.
By the way, if that’s too easy or not enough time to work, you can always try counting to 100 or even count backwards. Just remember to go slowly as rushing triggers that panic brain again!
Try the 5 Senses Trick
This one is a little more complex to explain, but still quite easy. It’s also highly effective for the same reason counting is. You’re focused on something different and that takes away from your panic brain initiating an instant calm down. Here’s a really good resource that actually explains how to do this fantastic trick. Yes, its a website on coping skills for kids. No, that doesn’t mean it’s no good for adults.
Do Something That Takes Thought
Personally, this is the one that works best for me. If you focus on something challenging or task and logic based, it makes it harder for the part of your brain that panics to actually react. Seriously. Science. This one is awesome. Two of the above tips are great examples of this, but personally, I do number puzzles.
Put on Some Music
I actually have a playlist built for when I’m really stressed as well as when I’m really depressed. For me, I listen to soothing music when I’m stressed (the Tron Legacy soundtrack is one of my favorites), but you should use what you love. Something singable could be great because you’ve got sounds you love and by singing, you’re engaging your brain in a different task.
Just make sure to avoid really tense or hyper music.
Get Some Exercise
This is not for everyone, but exercise has been proven to release positive chemicals that can really work. A lot of times they suggest going out for a run or playing basketball, but I’m lazy. Instead, I will stretch. It feels good, loosens the muscles that have tightened because of my anxiety, and is just generally a good practice.
Grab Something Comforting
Lower Your Shoulders
Raised shoulders is another one of those physical cues of stress. honestly, until someone mentioned this to me, I’d never noticed, but honestly, your shoulders will slowly creep up the longer you’re freaking out. Take a second to notice where your shoulders are (I once realized they were near to my ears!), and then consciously drop them. Trust me, it makes a world of difference!
I promise you will be able to calm down!
Give these trick a try and you will be able to get to your inner zen again (or at least not screaming). Please note, not all of these will work for you, and that’s okay. Give ’em a try and if they work, yay! If not, try something else. It’s all about finding the tools that work for you.
I’m even going to include a worksheet for those of you who like to have a handy list. I’ve put all of these suggestions, a few others, and spaces for you to add your own. As you try each trick, you can gauge how effective they are for you!