We all worry and get upset from time to time. It’s a normal part of life, right? But what happens when that anxiety or stress takes over, and you can’t calm down? Being able to calm yourself in the moment is often easier said than done.
Breathing is the number one and most effective technique for reducing stress, anger and anxiety quickly, including self-care management of long-term conditions e.g. high blood pressure, pain etc.
When you’re anxious or angry, you tend to take quick, shallow breaths. Breathing sends a message to your brain, causing a positive feedback loop reinforcing your fight-or-flight response. That’s why taking long, deep calming breaths disrupts that loop and helps you calm down.
There are various breathing techniques to help you calm down such as:
- Three-part breathing which requires you to take one deep breath in and then exhale fully while paying attention to your body.
- Pursed-lip breathing, which helps us to empty our lungs of used air by exhaling slowly and completely through the mouth.
- Belly breathing, the name comes from diaphragm, which is the muscle below the chest that is used for deep breathing. We sometimes call this belly breathing because when it is done correctly your belly moves.
These breathing techniques are used both in preparation for and during several relaxation techniques and can also be helpful to practice during your physical activities and exercise.
Other methods to keep yourself calm include:
Write it down
If you’re too angry or anxious to talk about it, grab a journal and write out your thoughts. Don’t worry about complete sentences or punctuation — just write. Writing helps you get negative thoughts out of your head.
You can take it one step further and make an action plan to continue staying calm once you’re done writing.
Drop your shoulders
If your body is tense, there’s a good chance your posture will suffer. Sit up tall, take a deep breath, and drop your shoulders. Focus on bringing your shoulder blades together and then down. This pulls your shoulders down and then take a few deep breaths.
Get some fresh air
The temperature and air circulation in a room can increase your anxiety or anger which can trigger a panic attack. If you feel yourself getting anxious, step outside – even if it’s for a few minutes. The fresh air will help calm you down and a change of scenery can sometimes interrupt your anxious or angry thought process.
These are just a few tips to help with dealing with stress and anxiety. For more information on techniques to help you deal with difficult situations visit the Every Mind Matters website.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious and would like to speak to a One You Hounslow health advisor please call us on 020 8973 3530.
Source: Chronic Disease Self-Management Course Tutor’s Manual –
Adapted for use in the UK by Talking Health, taking Action in partnership with the T-Trainer Group, Stanford University