We've been living through challenging times recently, so learning how to lower stress levels, and especially anger or anxiety which has been cropping up for many of us lately, could give your wellbeing a much-needed boost.
We all worry and get upset from time to time. It's a normal part of life. But what happens when that anxiety or anger takes over, and you can't calm down? Being able to calm yourself in the moment is often easier said than done.
That's why having a few strategies up your sleeve can help you when you're feeling anxious or angry.
Here are some helpful tips you can try the next time you need to calm down or settle an anxious mind in this oddly turbulent time.
Take a moment to breathe: As well as being free, easy and always present, breathing is the number one most effective technique for reducing anger and anxiety quickly. You tend to take quick, shallow breaths when you are anxious or angry, which sends a message to your brain that you may be in danger, and this sets off the fight or flight stress response.
Taking long, deep, calming breaths will reverse this message, disrupting the stress cycle and returning your mind and body to a state of calm.
Controlling your breathing is, therefore, an instant way to calm the mind and body. Even if you feel like you can't take a deep breath, you need to slow your breathing consciously. Take more controlled, slower breaths by breathing in gently for 5 seconds, hold for a count of 3, and breathe out slowly and gently for a count of 7 to 9. Repeat this until you feel back in control, and the worst of the symptoms have disappeared.
Release the anxiety or anger: many experts believe we can release the build-up of emotional energy with exercise. Going for a walk or run will help to release the stress hormones to help you calm down and feel better.
During physical activity, your body burns through the stress hormones, which can be a great way to improve your anxiety. Exercise is also beneficial as it tires your muscles, reducing excess energy and tension, it releases endorphins in your brain which can improve your overall mood, it's linked to healthier breathing, and is a healthy distraction. So, pop on those trainers and get your body moving to release those unwanted emotions.
Picture it: Your brain sends the same messages to your nervous system regardless of whether something is imagined or experienced. So If you can steal away a few minutes of peace, visualisations are a fantastic way to restore peace of mind, even in stressful situations.
They're easy to do and can relax you both mentally and physically. With practice, you can easily access your "happy place" and quickly feel calmer when stressed.
Start by practising the breathing technique from the first tip. After taking a few deep breaths, close your eyes and picture yourself calm. See your body relaxed, and imagine yourself working through a stressful or anxiety-causing situation by staying calm and focused. By creating a mental picture of what it looks like to stay calm, you can refer back to that image when you're angry or anxious.
Use lavender oil on your pulses: Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat many conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They are known to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Lavender isn't just for bubble baths – its calming qualities can also be medicinal. Lavender oil has many healing properties and can be used as a natural remedy to reduce anxiety and other nervous conditions. So go ahead, and dab a drop or two on your pulse points for an instant way to create calm in the mind and body.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure and not mixed with chemicals. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget, but I like Neal's Yard. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Other essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include Cedarwood, Bergamot, Chamomile, Frankincense and Vetiver.
Listen to music: The next time you feel your anxiety level creeping up, grab some headphones and tune in to your favourite music. Listening to music can have a very calming effect on your body and mind.
Every time stress sneaks in, I play a piece of Kundalini Meditation music called Ra Ma da Sa. It's a chanting song with a healing mantra related to the different elements of this world and ties them to the chakras. Whenever I choose this from my playlist, it settles my heart and mind, and I'm instantly at peace.
Make a playlist on Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever your stream music to use for those stressful days. Pick music that is soothing with a slow tempo and light instruments. I like reiki healing music which is very soothing and composed with healing in mind, but choose something that appeals to you. It's a good idea to use music with natural sounds, Tibetan bowls, waves, didgeridoos or birds and wind sounds which work well on healing peace of mind.
Relax your body: When you're anxious or angry, it can feel like every muscle in your body is tense (and they probably are). Practising progressive muscle relaxation can help you calm down and centre yourself.
To do this, lie down on the floor with your arms out by your side. Start at your toes and tell yourself to release them. Slowly move up your body, telling yourself to release each part of your body until you get to your head.
With practice, you can fully release virtually all the tension you're feeling in your body in a matter of seconds. This release can help you feel calmer and better able to handle the situations at hand.
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.
Writing in a journal gives me insight and clarity, especially on those days when I'm emotional but can't really pinpoint why. I can write it down and then let it go. I sit and breathe a few minutes, ask myself what I need to heal today, and then write. It's amazing what insights this can reveal and how much lighter you feel afterwards.
If you are feeling frazzled, stressed, or emotional, grab a notebook and write down what's bothering you. You can even take it one step further and make an action plan to continue staying calm once you've finished writing.
“Breath is the power behind all things….
I breathe in and know that good things will happen.”