Everyone must have experienced a certain moment when feelings take over everything. Maybe we will feel helpless at that time. Like suddenly there is a crashing wave that makes us feel sad, hopeless, panicked, angry, or afraid. Unfortunately, these sudden feelings can cause embarrassment, discomfort, or other problems. It can be difficult to deal with these feelings and calm down quickly in times like these, but there are ways that can help you ease your anxiety in even the most stressful situations.
Using Calming Techniques The Quick Way
Stop what you are doing. Stopping interaction with what’s upsetting you is the best way to calm yourself down. In the short term, you can use this attitude to tell the other person that you want to quit immediately. If someone else is with you, it’s a good idea to say goodbye politely first. Find a quiet place where you can distance yourself from the cause of your annoyance so that you can focus more on calming your mind.
Refocus your feelings. When we feel anxious, upset, or angry, our bodies go into a “fight or flight” state. The sympathetic nervous system will prepare our bodies to be very strong by activating hormones including adrenaline. This hormone will stimulate your heart rate and breathing, make your muscles tense, and constrict blood vessels. Take your attention away from the cause of this stress response and focus on what your body is going through. This will keep you aware of the current situation and reduce the so-called “automatic reactivity”.
“Automatic reactivity” occurs when your brain forms habits in response to stimuli such as stressors. Your brain will reactivate this habitual pathway when faced with the same stimulus. Research has shown that this chain of reactions can be interrupted by refocusing the brain on what the senses are actually experiencing. Thus, your brain will form new “habits” when responding to stimuli.
Don’t judge your experience, just recognize it. For example, if you are really angry because of what someone just said, your heart may beat faster and your face will turn red or feel hot. Get to know what you’re going through in detail, but don’t judge “wrong” or “right”.
Breathe. When the sympathetic nervous system in your body is activated by stress, you must first calm down and breathe calmly. Focusing on deep, regular breaths can be very beneficial. This method will distribute oxygen throughout your body, regulate brain waves, and reduce levels of lactic acid in the blood. Thus, you will feel calm and relaxed.
Breathe using your diaphragm, not your upper chest. If you place your palms on your stomach just below your ribs, you will feel your stomach expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale.
Sit in an upright posture, stand, or lie on your back to keep your chest straight. It will be difficult to breathe if your body is bent over. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 10. You will feel your lungs and stomach expand with air. After that, exhale slowly through your nose or mouth. Try to take deep breaths 6-10 times a minute to clear your lungs.
Focus on your breathing rhythm. Try not to get distracted by anything else, including any upset you may be experiencing. If you feel distracted, try counting your breaths or repeating words or phrases to calm yourself down.
As you inhale, imagine a beautiful golden glow as a symbol of love and acceptance. Try to feel the warmth of this relaxing light spreading from your lungs to your heart and then throughout your body. As you exhale gently, imagine all the stress you are feeling escaping your body. Repeat this breathing technique 3-4 times.
Relax your muscles. When an emotional or stress response occurs, the muscles in your body tighten and tighten. You will probably feel literally “hurt.” Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can help you consciously release muscle tension by tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups. With a little practice, PMR can help you release stress and anxiety quickly.
There are several online guides for learning PMR for free. MIT provides an eleven-minute PMR guide with audio for free.
Find a quiet and comfortable place. Preferably not too bright.
Lie down or sit comfortably. Wear loose-fitting clothes.
Focus on specific muscle groups. You can start at your toes and work your way up to your head, or you can start at your forehead and work your way down your feet.
Tighten all the muscles in a certain area as hard as possible. For example, if you start at the head, raise your eyebrows as high as possible and open your eyes as wide as possible. Hold for 5 seconds then relax again. Close your eyes as hard as you can. Hold for 5 seconds then relax again.
Move on to the next muscle group and then tighten this muscle. For example, press your lips tightly together for 5 seconds and then relax. After that, smile as wide as possible for 5 seconds and then relax.
Continue for all muscle groups in your body such as neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abs, buttocks, thighs, lower legs, soles of feet, and toes.
Divert your mind. If you can, distract yourself from worrying about what annoys you. If you continue to allow yourself to focus on what’s upsetting you, your mind will cycle through thinking the same thing over and over again. This habit of thinking will cause symptoms of anxiety and depression. Distraction isn’t a long-term solution, but it can be a great way to free your mind of trouble so you can calm yourself down. After that, you can face the problem with a clear mind.
Invite friends to chat. Socializing with your loved ones can free your mind from annoyance. Plus, you’ll feel more relaxed and loved. Research shows that rats living in groups are less likely to develop gastric problems than rats living alone.
Watch a movie with a fun theme or a funny TV show. “Ridiculous humor” can help you calm down and distance yourself from the cause of your irritation. But try to avoid humor with hurtful or harsh words because they can make you angrier, rather than calmer.
Listen to relaxing music. Choose music with 70 beats per minute like classical music or soft “New Age” pop music from Enya. Songs with angry lyrics or upbeat rhythms will make you more upset, rather than calmer.
Look at the fun pictures. Biologically, humans tend to be attracted to looking for something small with big eyes such as a puppy or a tiny baby. Seeing pictures of cute kittens can produce a chemical reaction in the body that causes a feeling of “happy”.
Find a place where you can be alone and shake all your limbs like a dog would if their fur is wet. “Shaking your body” will make you feel better because it will introduce your brain to a new sensation of going through a process.
Practice self-soothing behavior. Self-soothing behavior can quickly relieve your stress and anxiety. This behavior is intended so that you can do nice and kind things to yourself.
Try soaking in warm water or taking a warm bath. Research shows that feeling physically warm can have a calming effect on many people.
Use lavender and chamomile essential oils, which have a calming aroma.
Invite your pet to play. Playing with a dog or cat can have a calming effect and can even lower high blood pressure.
Enjoy a soothing touch. When we feel a soft touch, our body will release the hormone oxytocin which is very useful for improving mood. You can experience this effect through a friendly hug or sex with a loved one, but you can also relax yourself with your own touch.
Touch your chest. Focus on the warmth of your skin and the rhythm of your heartbeat. Breathe slowly and steadily as you feel your chest expand as you inhale and contract again as you exhale.
Hug yourself. Cross your arms in front of your chest while holding your upper arms and squeeze gently. Try to feel the warmth and pressure in your palms and forearms.
Cover your face with both palms. Try pressing the muscles of your jaw or near your eyes with your fingertips. Comb your hair with your fingers while massaging your scalp.
Check your dietary habits. Body and mind are not two separate things. What one does must affect the other. This also applies to the diet you do.
Reduce caffeine consumption. Since caffeine is a stimulant, excessive caffeine consumption can make you jittery and anxious.
Eat high protein foods. Protein keeps you feeling full longer and keeps your blood sugar levels from dropping or rising throughout the day. Low-fat protein such as poultry and fish can be the best choice.
Complex carbohydrates that contain lots of fiber will make your brain release serotonin, a hormone that relaxes the body. You can choose breads and pastas from whole grains, brown rice, beans and lentils, fruits and vegetables.
Avoid foods that contain lots of sugar and fat because you will be more stressed and irritated.
Limit alcohol intake. Since alcohol is a depressant, you may feel calmer after drinking alcohol. However, alcohol can also cause symptoms of depression, which can make you more tense. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep patterns, making you more irritable.
Exercising. Physical exercise makes our bodies release endorphins, chemicals that make us “feel happy”. But you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to experience these effects. Research has shown that moderate exercise such as walking or gardening can make you feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed.
Exercises that combine meditation and gentle movements, such as taici and yoga, have shown positive effects in dealing with anxiety and depression. This exercise can relieve pain and make a person feel calm.
meditate. Meditation has been known since time immemorial and is highly valued in Eastern traditions. Scientific research proves that meditation can have a relaxing effect and good feelings. In addition, meditation can even reshape the brain’s neural network in response to external stimuli. There are various meditation techniques, but based on research, “mindfulness” meditation is the most recommended meditation technique.
You don’t even need to leave your house to learn meditation. The MIT and UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centers provide free downloadable MP3 meditation guides.
Think about what’s upsetting you. Stress triggers can build up little by little without even realizing it. Usually you lose your temper not because of one big event, but because of the accumulation of small things that have been irritating you for a long time.
Try to distinguish between primary and secondary emotions. For example, you were supposed to meet a friend at the movies but she didn’t show up and you might immediately feel hurt. These are primary emotions. After that, you will feel annoyed, disappointed, or angry. This is a secondary emotion. You can find out why you are experiencing these various feelings by identifying the source of your feelings.
Usually, you will feel more than one feeling at the same time. Try to identify them one by one and give a name for each of your feelings. After that, you will be better prepared to deal with the feelings you are experiencing.
One of the most common reasons people feel disappointed is their belief that things should happen a certain way (usually their own way). Remember that you can never control everything in this life, you don’t even have to have this desire.
Don’t judge the emotional response but acknowledge it and try to understand.
Avoid situations that can irritate you, if you can. Of course it is impossible if we never feel upset. Experiencing unpleasant or difficult circumstances is a part of human life. However, if you can eliminate the cause of your stress, you will be prepared for a situation that is completely unavoidable.
You can try to “be smart” in unpleasant situations. For example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam—who hasn’t?—try to leave early or come home from work late, or find an alternative route.
Find the wisdom of every event. You will feel calm if you can see a disappointing situation as a learning experience because in this way, you are able to give yourself strength. Instead of just dealing with the situation that is currently happening to you, the situation you are currently facing will be a lesson that you can use in your next life.
If people annoy you, try to find out why. Is it because of their behavior that bothers you? Or you yourself also do the same with them? Learning to understand someone’s motivations can keep you from getting irritated. Remember, we are all human beings who cannot be separated from problems.
Express your feelings. Basically, nothing is unhealthy when it comes to emotions including anger. What can become unhealthy is if you ignore or suppress your feelings instead of admitting them.
Acknowledging your feelings doesn’t mean that you have to grieve while feeling sorry for yourself or lash out at others with big eyes. Instead, admit that you’re only human and that it’s natural to experience a range of emotions as a human. Feelings will always arise and do not need to be judged. Your response to emotions is what you can be held accountable for.
Once you can acknowledge how you feel, think about how to respond. For example, it’s natural to feel angry because your contribution to a big project was not appreciated or if your lover betrayed you. However, you have a choice whether to let your anger explode or to use the techniques described in this article so that you can calm down and deal with your feelings in an appropriate way.
Take the time to meet people who make you feel at ease. Research has shown that humans tend to let other people’s emotions “infect” them. The anxiety level of the person we are with can affect our own emotions. Take time to meet people who can make you feel relaxed and calm so that you also feel calmer.
Try to hang out with people who can support you. Feeling isolated and judged will make you even more stressed.
See a therapist or counselor. There is a myth that you need to see a therapist if your “problem” is very severe, but this is not true. A therapist can help you identify your feelings and teach you how to deal with even your daily anxiety and stress in a healthier and more beneficial way.
Many organizations provide therapy and counseling services. Contact clinics, health centers, hospitals, or therapists who have opened their own practice.
Overcoming Disappointing Situations
Practice the STOP technique. STOPP is an acronym that is easy to remember when you need to calm down in a certain situation. There are five easy steps you should take:
Stop your spontaneous reactions. “Automatic thinking” is a habit of thinking that is already formed in our lives, but is often destructive. Stop what you are doing and delay your reaction for a while.
Take a breath. Use the deep breathing techniques described in this article to allow yourself to breathe deeply and calmly for a few breaths. You will feel better after that.
Observe what is going on. Ask yourself what you are thinking, what is currently the focus of your attention, what you are responding to, and what sensations you are experiencing in your body.
Pay attention to the current situation. Try to see the big picture. Do you think based on facts or opinions? How does your reaction affect other people? What reaction would I expect from the other person in this situation? How important is this problem really?
Practice useful ways. Consider what the consequences of your actions will be, for yourself and for others. What is the best way to deal with this situation? Choose the most appropriate and useful way.
Be careful with personalization. One of the most common distortions in our thinking habits is personalization by holding ourselves accountable for what we are not really responsible for. This can lead to anger and disappointment in ourselves because we cannot control the actions of others. But we can control our response.
For example, imagine a coworker who is having emotional problems–and often gets angry at-and yells at you for something. This action of course makes you upset. This is not good behavior. Now you have a choice: you can react automatically or you can stop and think what will happen next.
Automatic reactions such as “Joe must be really mad at me. What have I done to him? Really annoying!” While it’s understandable, this kind of reaction can’t put you at ease.
A reaction that would be more helpful might be: “Joe snapped at me. It’s annoying, but it’s not just me that he snaps at, he’s very irritable after all. Maybe he’s having some other problem or he’s just grumpy. It feels unfair, but it’s not my problem.” This statement is an acknowledgment that you are disappointed, but focus on ways that you can keep your mind off the situation.
Be aware that being careful about personalization is not the same as being mistreated. Discuss Joe’s grumpy behavior with your boss. However, remind yourself that you can’t control other people’s actions and they usually don’t act because of you. This way of thinking will help you feel calm again right away.
Steer the conversation away from topics that will only irritate you. A surefire way to ignite anger is to discuss a topic you believe in with someone who will definitely oppose you. If you feel like you can have a productive discussion with someone, that’s okay. But if the conversation is just going to go on like two opposing people having a monologue, try diverting the conversation by discussing topics that aren’t offensive to each other.
It may be uncomfortable to suggest a topic change, but the relief from stress and tension will be worth the awkward moment. Don’t be afraid to be decisive by saying, “I think this discussion will make us agree or disagree. How about we chat about last night’s basketball game?”
If this person continues to talk about a topic that upsets you, it’s best to say goodbye. Use the word “I” in your statement so as not to sound blaming, for example: “I feel like I’m a bit overwhelmed by the discussion on this topic. You can go on and on about it, but I have to say goodbye.”
If you really can’t get out of the situation, you can mentally withdraw from the conversation. Imagine yourself in a peaceful place. This should be a last resort as it will usually be obvious that you are not actually listening. This attitude can irritate the person you’re talking to or feel opposed.
Don’t be too negative. Overexposing negativity can cause problems with how you think, learn, and remember information. Constantly being exposed to negativity can cause your brain to form negative thinking habits. While it may seem normal to complain about work or school, be careful not to do this too often or you may only feel more upset.
This problem will be made much worse if someone complains to you about something that you also feel guilty about. You will feel irritated as if you were injured. But you have no way of righting your wrongs so you become irritated and frustrated.
Just like any other emotion, complaining and negative attitudes can be contagious. Even if you listen to a stressful conversation like someone complaining for 30 minutes it can increase the cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that makes it difficult for a person to think calmly.
Instead, try to think productively about the situation you’re in. It’s normal to feel frustrated when things are going bad. Sharing your feelings for a moment might help. However, it’s more helpful to try to think about what you could change next instead of focusing on how bad the situation was in order to make your situation better.