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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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