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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

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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