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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

7 Self-Soothing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Relief

7 Self-Soothing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Relief

When you are experiencing stress or anxiety, you can have a difficult time functioning or feeling anything else. Some are able to put a mask on, show to the world that they are fine when they are in overdrive. However, masks are only temporarily effective. Finding self soothing techniques is much more useful.

We tend to burn out if stress and anxiety are left ignored. We tend to feel the weight of the world and think that if we ask for help, we are a burden. The truth is that we deserve care, respect and help if we have taken on too much. We owe it to ourselves to take a break now and then and allow for some self care. Furthermore, we need to know we are worth offering comfort to ourselves in the midst of chaos.

It’s imperative to work on going from being a worrier to a warrior of inner peace.

What Causes Stress and Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are symptoms of greater issues. This could be a time management issue, poor prioritization, mental health issues, lack of self care, or having no purpose behind what you’re trying to do.

Ultimately, anyone can experience stress or anxiety, but they don’t have to run your life. You can regain control and find your way back yourself and your life.

“Keep coming home to yourself.” – Aundi Kolber, therapist and author of Try Softer

We may become distracted, but we can always come back to ourselves. The true root of stress is that we have separated ourselves from who we are really meant to be. We try to be productive and forget to be purposeful.

Anxiety is ignited from a lack of self care and self love. Neglect of self is a contributor to how we can lose ourselves and find ourselves feeling stressed and anxious. The good news is that we can get it back.

Here are 7 self soothing techniques to help you find your way back to peace.

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1. Yoga

Yoga is a great way to stretch and tone muscle and find some calm. Many find it meditative and helpful towards stress relief. A recent study[1] found that “practicing Hatha yoga had a promising effect on anxiety. Yoga was also most beneficial in people who had the highest levels of anxiety at the start of the studies.” There are many more studies like this. Try it today.

Try these 8 poses for inner peace and stress relief[2]:

  • Sukhasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Sasangasana
  • Vajrasana with Garudasana arms
  • Side Stretch
  • Halasana
  • Savasana

If you don’t know what these poses are, you can see examples and a description through a simple Google search. Furthermore, you don’t have to be a practicing yogi to be able to do them. You can use yoga whether you’re a beginner or an expert to relax your body and your soul.

For more intense yoga, there are many YouTube videos you can try. Explore the internet or take a class. The point is that you can start simple and progress each day. You can challenge and condition yourself at your own pace.

Stress and anxiety will be unable to reach you as you focus on your yoga poses and stretches. Yoga can uplift you, improving overall emotional and physical wellbeing.

2. Stress Diary/Anxiety Log

Stress diaries are how we can pinpoint problems and come up with solutions for them. What is breaking you could lead to better breakthroughs if you record your stress daily. What triggers them? Keep a log. There are many benefits of a stress diary[3], but most importantly, it can help you discover the sources of your stress so you can tackle them directly.

Record the date and time, the stressor, rate the level of stress you are experiencing or how happy you are now, how effectively you are working now, the cause of the stressor, symptoms, and how well you handled the event.

Do this as often as stress comes up or reflect on past stressful experiences. This will lead you to better understand how you cope and how you could do better in the future. It pushes you to analyze the core of what’s going on. What really matters do you? Do you feel in or out of control? Why or why not?

This practice can be done using online tools[4], or you can adapt the log to suit your own style.

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You can also use this idea for an anxiety log. If you are having trouble with anxiety, note the triggers, how long it lasts, how you feel now, and how you handled it (much like you would for the stress diary). If they are one and the same — causing you both stress and anxiety — use one form to analyze the stressor.

The key is to continue using a stress diary or anxiety log so you can figure out what’s wrong and find any solutions. Brainstorming solutions is something you can do as a result of this activity. You can learn better ways to solve problems simply through simple self-reflection, followed by self soothing.

3. Mindfulness

Recent research[5] has found that mindfulness “has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, and protecting against depression and anxiety.”

So, how does one become mindful?

Focus first on your breath.

Then, allow your thoughts to come and go. Just observe the thoughts; do not judge them or yourself for having them. The emotion is not your identity. Overidentifying with them can be harmful. Instead, try to be mindful.

You can do this at anytime, and it can become a way of life. Becoming present helps you to look at your priorities, which in turn helps you to reduce unnecessary stressors in your life. It can be a meditation practice or something you do during any activity. Ultimately, it helps to calm you.

When we become upset, we become our emotions rather than separating our emotions from ourselves. We don’t have to act on each feeling. It’s about getting back into control and a calm mindset.

4. Diaphragmatic Breathing

One proven way to reduce stress is through diaphragmatic breathing.[6] This type of breathing involves using your diaphragm and breathing so that your belly expands and falls with the breath. Generally, we tend to breathe using our chest and shoulders, which causes shallow breathing and ultimately contributes to stress.

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To practice this type of breathing, get comfortable. Put your hand on you chest and your other hand on your belly. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you exhale, it should fall.

Take a moment to do this. You can even close your eyes if you like. Just focus on the breath and your belly rising and falling.

If you catch yourself having an anxiety or panic attack, this is also a great way to help you refocus your breathing until you are better. When you focus only on your breath, you start to feel safe. You can use that to better your situation or yourself. Just breathe.

5. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique involves tensing a specific muscle group and then releasing it. Research[7] suggests that it can be “used to control stress and anxiety, relieve insomnia, and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain.”

This can be done starting from one end of the body and working your way through the entire body. For example, a common thing we do is clench our jaws. Unclench your jaw. Relax the muscles in your temples and forehead. Continue down to your neck and shoulders. Focus on nothing else. When you get to your toes, you will have relaxed the body completely. This is a great way to help yourself relax, and it’s easy to do.

You can make it a habit of doing it before you fall asleep each night, or when you want to be meditative and calm. It’s a great way to also realize the body is carrying your tension. All your stress and anxiety is found in your body, and you are releasing the stress when you release the muscle tension.

6. Guided Visualization

Guided visualization is a sort of meditation that involves imagining something that helps calm you. This technique has been shown to lower blood pressure and levels of stress hormones.[8]

There are two common visualization exercises you can try:

Containment Exercise

Visualize a container. Make it look however you want, and give it a name. Then, visualize your negative thoughts, emotions, and worries being sealed within that container and only you have the lock.

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What would you like to do with this container? It contains all your stresses and anxieties. You can dump it into the ocean. You can bury it. You can throw it away. You can safeguard it. You can put it in a safe.

The visualization that you do is up to you with this container. As long as you start to feel the negative thoughts and feelings go into the container, you start to experience stress and anxiety relief.

Happy Place

Visualize your safe space or happy place, a place you can go to anytime. Visualize the details, invoking your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, or even taste? Focus on these details for a bit, playing around with them in your mind. What do you call this place? Give it a name. You can visit it or change it every time you do this guided visualization.

If you want to do more guided visualizations, there are free ones online, you could take a class or practice with a mental health professional or while in a meditation.

They key is to get away from the stressors and things causing you anxiety in your mind. You regain clarity. You remove yourself so you can have control of what you think and feel and finally feel some relief.

7. Ask for Help

If you are feeling stressed and full of anxiety and have tried everything, it may be time to reach out for professional health. You may not be in control, and that’s okay. You just have to get back into control. A mental health professional may be able to target why you are stressed and anxious better than you can on your own.

You are not alone. You are worth it. And if you think otherwise, your mind is tricking you. You can train it to alleviate stress and anxiety, but you may need some help, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Final Thoughts

When you think you are at your wit’s end, there is a way to give yourself a break and a breather. It includes any one of the techniques presented above.

There’s always a way through something, even if it’s stressful or anxiety inducing. You won’t overcome it in one day or one sitting, but if you create a daily practice of cultivating inner peace, you will find it to be worth it. It’s about creating a better lifestyle so you can create a better life.

Having stress and anxiety doesn’t make you weak. In fact, if you admit you need help, that makes you strong. You can figure out the source through these exercises or with help from a professional. Ultimately, peace will be waiting for you on the other side.

More Tips on Combating Stress and Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

You may be wondering how to clear your mind. Maybe you are facing a tough presentation at work and really need to focus, or perhaps you’ve got a lot going on at home and just need to relax for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, having a clear mind can help you find your center.

The only problem is that you can’t completely erase the thousands of thoughts you have each day. The goal is to be able to observe those thoughts without engaging with each one of them.

The good news is that clearing your mind and returning to the present moment comes from a simple act of acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed in the first place. A path to better mental health and overall quality of life starts here.

What Happens When You’re Not Present?

We’ve evolved to keep looking and working towards a future goal. The very nature of our careers is to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for the future. Our thoughts and, therefore, our habits and actions consistently point in the forward-moving direction, whether it’s in your relationship, career, or goals.

The point at which this becomes harmful is when we become too stuck in this forward motion and can’t reduce stress in the short or long-term. The result of this is burnout.[1] It’s a term that is most often used in the workplace, but burnout can happen in any area of our life where you feel like you’re pushing too hard and too fast.

The idea here is that you’re so engrossed in the forward movement that you take on too much and rest too little. There is no pause in the present because you have this sense that you must keep working.

On a physical plane, the body takes a real hit with burnout. You feel more muscle fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, anxiety, poor metabolism, and so much more.

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These symptoms are the body’s way of throwing you red flags and warning you that you must slow down. But because your mind is so preoccupied with this forward momentum, it disconnects you from listening to your body’s signals. The only time you really hear them is when the signals are too loud to ignore, such as during serious illness or pain.

As we can see, not being present is something that snowballs over time. Eventually, it can cause serious mental, emotional, and physical ailments. 

To help you deal with this, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment to see where you may be off balance. Then, you can check out the points below to keep moving in the right direction.

How Do We Come Back to the Present?

Answering this question will answer the question of how to clear your mind because they go hand in hand. There are many tools you can use to begin a mindfulness practice.

To reiterate, mindfulness is simply defined as the act or practice of being fully present.[2] Tools that allow you to step into this practice include meditation, journaling, a body-centered movement practice such as Qigong, or simple breathing exercises.

Underneath it all, however, is one technique that acts as a universal connector, and that is acknowledgment. This term may not sound like a technique, but its power truly flourishes when put into practice.

For us to come back to the present moment, we have to acknowledge that we have trailed off into the past or the future. Likewise, for us to clear our mind, we have to acknowledge that our mind is overwhelmed, distracted, or scattered.

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This simple act of pausing and catching ourselves in the moment is how we can build our acknowledgment practice. So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed at work with mental to-do lists, pause. Acknowledge your state of mind and say to yourself that you’re overwhelmed. This sends a signal to your whole being that you’re aware of what’s going on.

It cuts the cords of illusion, denial, and ignorance. You are now building your awareness of yourself, which is an incredibly potent gift.

How to Clear Your Mind

Now that you’ve acknowledged where you are and how you feel, you can take action and learn ways to clear your mind. You can take a few moments away from your desk or to-do list, and practice something to ground yourself back into the present moment.

1. Take a Walk

Grounding yourself can be as simple as taking a walk and admiring the changing of the leaves. This practice is also known as “forest bathing,” and it doesn’t necessarily need to take place in a forest. It can be in your favorite park or even walking around your town or neighborhood.

Bring your attention to the senses as you enjoy your walk. Can you tune in to the sounds of your footsteps on the earth? Can you notice the smells and take in the sights around you while staying present in the moment? Can you touch a leaf or the bark of a tree and allow the texture to teach you something new?

Such a practice does wonders in clearing your mind and bringing you back to the now. It also connects you more deeply to your environment.

2. Box Breathing

As you’re learning how to clear your mind, a mind-clearing practice may look like sitting down and going through a nourishing meditation or breath practice. Breathing is, honestly, the easiest and best way to clear your mind. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out and feeling and noticing the breath will bring you right back to the present moment.[3]

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In yoga, we call this breath Same Vrti, meaning a 1:1 breath ratio. It can also be translated as “box breathing.” The idea is to make the length of your inhales and exhales the same, as this allows you to take in more oxygen and slow down the chatter of the monkey mind. It also kicks on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion, offering many health benefits in the long run.

This will allow your heart rate to slow down so that you can reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. It also aids in digestion, as the metabolism is back on track, and helps you physically process food and drink properly.

3. Add Meditation

how to meditate and clear your mind is also helpful when you want to clear negative thoughts and relieve stress. In fact, following your breath is a meditation in itself. Adding a visual, like imagining gentle ripples on a lake or clouds passing along a beautiful blue sky, can give the mind something to attach to without running through the train of your thoughts.

On the other hand, if you are mentally overwhelmed and meditation sounds like more stress, tuning in to a guided meditation session can be alleviating. It often helps to hear the voice of a teacher or guide who can walk you into more peace and contentment with their words and energy. If you can’t find such a guide in a local studio, turn to the many meditation apps on your phone, or YouTube.

4. Write Your Thoughts

Alternatively, another powerful practice for when you’re learning how to clear your mind is sitting down and writing out all of the thoughts in your head. We call this a “brain dump,” and it is an effective method for simply releasing your thoughts so that you can mentally breathe and process things better.

Grab a piece of paper and write out all of the thoughts that are pressing for your attention. The idea is not to analyze the thoughts or fix them, but to give those thoughts an exit so that you can move on with your day without fixating on them aggressively. This can look like a laundry list of thoughts, or a diary entry.

Afterward, feel free to close your journal or rip up the paper as part of your stress management. You don’t need to hold on to what you wrote, but it does help to see the expression of what you’re holding on to mentally. Likewise, this practice is very potent to do at night before bedtime. So many of us struggle to sleep soundly with many thoughts bouncing back and forth, and this exercise before bed can allow us to enter a deeper level of rest.

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Regardless of what you do, understand that practicing mindfulness is a lifelong process. With life’s ups and downs, it’s stressful to attach yourself to the practice of being mindful and in the present moment because it’s never guaranteed that you will be present for 100% of your life.

In this practice, what matters more than anything is intention. Our intention of staying present and sticking to our mindfulness practice is what will encourage us to keep coming back to it, even when we forget.

Final Thoughts

With the thousands of thoughts that we have in our head each day, it can sound overwhelming to even tackle this and try to learn how to clear your mind. The technique, however, is powerful, simple, and effective.

It all comes down to first recognizing and acknowledging that we are overwhelmed, stressed, or far away from the present moment. That acknowledgment acts as a wake-up alarm, inviting us to examine our state of mind and take action.

In this way, not only are we clearing our minds in a manner that works for us, but we’re also building our self-awareness, which is a beautiful and powerful way of being in the world.

More Tips on How to Clear Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Elijah Hiett via unsplash.com

Reference

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