People may tell you to relax or calm down on occasion, but that doesn’t really do anything except aggravate you. Whether something, someone, your kids, or a work project pushes you over the edge, you may want to know how to calm down in moments of stress. The need to calm down in the moment is much more desirable than a two-week plan to reduce stress. So how do you get rid of that acute stress in the moment?
Taking a walk, doing yoga, or carving out some quality “me time” are all effective ways to help reduce stress. When you are in a state of high anxiety, the nervous system has already entered the fight-or-flight state. That is why you can’t think straight in those moments, nor can you access common stress-coping skills. What you need to do is calm the body and mind down as quickly as you can. There are various techniques that help the body get back to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. Continue reading to learn what those techniques are.
Take Deep Breaths To Calm The Nervous System
Taking a deep breath seems like such a common piece of advice to calm down. It is one of the essential tools if you want to regulate your emotions, though. Taking a deep breath is one of the simplest and quickest ways to calm down, and it is always accessible to you. When the body is in a fight-or-flight state, it doesn’t receive enough oxygen to calm the nerves. Breathing helps you flood the body with oxygen! Just make sure you breathe in through your nose, expand the lower belly, and exhale fully out of your mouth.
Watch Some ASMR Videos
A popular trend to reduce anxiety or fall asleep is to watch autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos. In these videos, people crinkle paper, prepare a meal, whisper, scratch, tap, or pitter-patter. The sounds and sensations induce a tingling sensation all over the viewer’s or listener’s scalp and neck. However, not everyone experiences ASMR the same way. Some people have adverse reactions to these videos, or they are annoyed by them. If ASMR helps you calm down in the moment, use it!
Shake It Off
You don’t have to listen to the Taylor Swift song, but shaking it off can help re-balance the nervous system. In fact, animals typically shake their bodies off after encountering a perceived threat. The belief is that shaking your arms and legs vigorously for three seconds buzzes the body and induces relaxation. Alternate between the legs and arms while standing up.
Sit With Stress And Label Intentions
The magnitude of your stress response can take you by storm sometimes. Do you ever go from zero to 100 without warning? When that happens, drop into your body and identify the physical sensations that you experience. Are you tight in certain areas? Do you want to jump out of your skin? Allow these sensations to be there and name them because that will help you connect the mind and body. That will not be easy, but sit with the stress and allow it to flow in and out of your body.
Hover Over Your Stress
Visualize yourself looking down to watch yourself in that moment of high stress. This is something that you can practice because it helps you detach yourself from your stress, which may bring levity to the situation. It isn’t quite dissociative, but it does bring a lightness to the body, creating a tiny opening to realize that you have more control than you realize. That may help prevent you from acting out irrationally.
Hum To Stimulate The Vagus Nerve
When you hum, you produce a frequency in the mind and body that actually soothes the nervous system. A pilot study from April 2023 found that Bhramari, a breathing practice, improved heart rate variability. The study authors concluded that that technique may be an antidote to stress. Bhramari is a practice, during which you make a humming sound like a bee in the back of your throat.
Use The Cold To Rest And Digest
Unless you live under a rock, you are probably familiar with the ice bath or polar plunge trend. Sitting in the cold for a few minutes stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic nervous system. Now, you may not have access to a cold plunge in your moment of high stress. Should you want to calm yourself down quickly, head to a sink and splash cold water on your face. You can also use an ice roller on your neck, and chest, or submerge your face into a bowl of ice water.