There are lots of ways to cope, or handle stress. However, they aren't always available, or easy to use in all situations. For example, if you know playing video games helps distract you when you're feeling anxious, it might not be reasonable to expect your Algebra teacher let you play Candy Crush before or during a stressful pop quiz to calm down.
In this blog, I am going to outline three easy to use ways to feel calmer when your're feeling anxious. And the best part is you can use them anywhere!
1. Deep Breathing
A classic favorite of most therapists (and for good reason!). Slowing our breathing is a natural way our bodies initiate the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of our nervous system that helps get and keep us calm after periods of stress). When our parasympathetic nervous system is in effect, we are able to think, feel, and understand things clearer.
There are several different techniques people can use to breathe deeply (stay tuned for a future blog about this coming soon!).
For now, I will give you this simple technique:
- Make sure both your feet are grounded on the floor, sit up straight and relax your hands either palms up or down in your lap.
- Slowly breathe into your nose, feeling the air fill your nostrils, your throat, your lungs, your belly.
- Hold for a brief moment.
- Even more slowly than you breathed in, exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Repeat as many times as you need to until you feel relaxed, calm, and clear-headed.
2. Positive Self-talk
When you change your thinking, you can change the way you're feeling. Pump yourself up with some cheerleader statements or motivational quotes.
Even if you don't quite believe it quite yet, the more you repeat it to yourself, the more true it will feel. You'll eventually feel more confident and in control overall.
Make sure you add your favorite positive self-talk statements in the Comments Below.
3. Visualize Your Happy Place
Taking a mental vacation to a real, or imaginary, place that makes you feel good, calm, and happy can actually change your stress levels and mood. When you dwell on something that is upsetting, you feed that monster and it grows and grows. If you allow yourself to imagine visiting a place where nothing bad has ever happened, never bad will ever happen, and nothing bad ever could happen, you've successfully envisioned your Happy Place.
Take as much time as you need to, focusing on each of your 5 senses. My Happy Place is a secluded beach. I see white sand and a bright blue ocean. I smell the salty water and sunscreen. I hear the rush of the waves crashing on the shore, and some seagulls in the distance. I taste the cool water and grapes I've brought with me to snack on. I feel the warmth from the sun and the grainy sand between my toes. Ahhh.... so relaxed!
Feeling Calm Yet?
I hope so after going through these three ways to feel calmer anywhere. The awesome thing about each of these strategies is that they all use YOU to make them happen. You're with yourself all the time so it's easy to use these tips to help you feel calmer anywhere.
Now that you know these strategies, you can add them to your free Coping Ahead Plan. Don't have one yet? Click here to get your now. You'll also get motivational updates and even more strategies straight from Mallory to your inbox.
About Mallory Grimste, LCSW
Mallory Grimste, LCSW is a mental health therapist in Woodbridge, CT. She loves helping tweens, teens and young adults struggling with Anxiety (... and other Big Emotions) find what works for them.
Originally a Jersey girl, she loves the beach, sunglasses and iced coffee. Her favorite coping skills are deep breathing, listening to music, and watching Scandal.
If you want to know more about Mallory, or how she helps through therapy, visit her website at http://www.mallorygrimste.com