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14 Effective Ways to Physically Calm Yourself

14 Effective Ways to Physically Calm Yourself

At one point or another, we’ve all felt stressed, upset, overwhelmed, angry, scared, violent, or anxious (if not all at the same time). And we know we’ll feel that way again.

For all those moments of increased heart rate, there are these effective ways to physically calm yourself (for everything else, there’s MasterCard). In times of crisis and hectic Monday mornings, follow these simple practices to make yourself feel better.

1. Leave the room. Remove yourself from the situation.

Every time you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste anything, your brain has to process that stimuli. It can only process so much before you’re either overstimulated or start to forget bits and pieces. By entering a new setting, you’ll be blasted by (at least) different visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli. You’ll become more calm because you won’t be able to focus on the prior stressor(s) as much.

2. Clench your fists, but don’t hit anyone.

Sit in a chair. Clench your fists tightly for thirty seconds, then release for sixty seconds. Repeat. After a few minutes, you’ll feel so much more relaxed as this steadies all your body’s rhythms. Simple, yet effective.

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3. Do this breathing exercise. Seriously, it works.

Breath in for three seconds. Hold for five seconds. Breath out for seven seconds.

If you were smoking a cigarette, you would inhale and then hold the smoke in for a few seconds before exhaling. Why? Because it gives your body more time to absorb the nicotine, increasing the high that smokers crave.

Oxygen does the exact same thing. By breathing in slowly and holding it in, your lungs are able to absorb more oxygen, thus allowing you to feel more relaxed. It also regulates and (depending on how anxious or upset you are) slows down your heart rate, which also makes you feel more calm.

4. Run, Forrest! Run!

Running heightens the production of endorphins in your brain, making you feel better — very similar to taking a shot of morphine. At the same time, you’re expending a lot of energy, which, in this case, appears as anxiety. So while (literally) running away from your anxiety, you’re also creating a natural high for yourself.

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5. Close your eyes.

Closing your eyes effectively blocks everything out. Whether it’s a stressful situation or you’re just anxious from staring at a computer screen for too long, closing your eyes immediately negates all visual stimuli, allowing you to process everything else going on much more easily. Most would recommend closing your eyes for 15 minutes for best results at any given time. You could lie down to rest for your 15 minutes, or you could pair it with points 2 and 3.

6. Find your happy place — or the nearest Starbucks.

If you surround yourself with something you have positive associations with, you’ll begin to feel more calm. Go somewhere or do something that you have a positive association with, like drinking a hot cup of tea in your perfectly organized office, or going to that dive where you and your best friend would always hang out.

7. Drink cold water.

Even mild dehydration has adverse physiological and psychological effects. Ergo, drinking water regularly throughout your day will help you to feel more calm and to have clearer, more positive thoughts. If the water’s chilled, it will bring down your body temperature, which also helps you become calm.

8. Yell your heart out.

There’s a reason mommas everywhere let their babies scream and cry until they “tire themselves out.” Each of us can only expend so much energy before we’re just spent. So, worst case scenario, just go sit in your car and yell and kick and scream until you feel like you need a nap.

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9. Don’t go with your first impulse.

A lot of people would tell you to always stick with your gut, or some other cliché. These people are wrong and not to be trusted. Your first impulse to feeling stressed or upset will always be a reactive response. Reactive is bad, and you really want to be proactive in any decisions you make or actions you take, especially when you’re not your peak self. So, withhold from your first impulse, and give yourself time to rethink your decisions.

10. Be your own wingman.

Positive self-talk your way to feeling better. Really, if you keep telling yourself you’re good at this, that things aren’t entirely your fault, or that whatever so-and-so said doesn’t matter, you will eventually believe it.

11. Smile already.

If you smile long enough, you will be happy. Actually, about 30 seconds will start the process. But it has to be a real smile, none of that fake “Hi Aunt Myrtle, I’m so happy to see you,” (but you’re really not) stuff.

12. Listen to music written in major keys.

We’re all familiar with playing certain songs or artists to make us feel better and calm down. The effects of music on emotions are well documented and surprisingly potent. So, listen to songs written in major (happy) keys rather than those written in minor (sad) keys.

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Bonus tip: if you choose songs with slower tempos and fewer lyrics, you’ll feel calmer more quickly.

13. Create or remake your early morning routine.

For a long-term plan, create a solid morning or evening routine. For instance, get up 90 minutes earlier and use this time to read, workout, start that blog you’ve been putting off, grow a business, lead a study group — do something for you that will make you feel better and help to keep you calm throughout the day.

14. Write out your feelings.

Scientists still aren’t 100 per cent in agreement as to why writing out your feelings makes you feel better. But, on a neurological level, the research generally says that when you put a label to your emotions, as you do when writing them out, a portion of your brain is activated that actually inhibits the flow of emotions. So, if you’re feeling really angry, and you write down “I’m feeling really angry,” your brain will process “angry” and inhibit your anger. Pretty cool stuff!

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Kenneth Burke

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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