Some days it feels like we are ceaselessly bombarded with potential stressors — from the “urgent” messages coming across our devices to our various responsibilities and seemingly endless to-do lists. Often without warning, panic and anxiety can begin to take over our minds and disrupt our sense of calmness. Practicing some simple self-calming techniques can help you reset and carry on.
Regulating your breath is one of the first steps to lowering an anxious heart rate. By taking deep inhales and slow exhales, you are sending fresh oxygenated blood to your brain for clearer thoughts, while simultaneously reducing your heart rate.
Meditation can help achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. The practice can be as simple as taking some time to yourself to close your eyes and quiet your mind, even for as little as 5-10 minutes a day. Research shows that this simple act also contributes to a healthy immune system and can activate the body’s self-healing abilities.
Take a few moments each morning to think about what you have to be grateful for, before all of the potential stressors come your way. Contemplating good things in your life will help keep focus on the positive and promote calmness. Alternatively, keeping a nightly gratitude journal will enable your subconscious to store these positive memories and can also help you to relax as you fall asleep.
Nutrition plays a huge role in affecting your mood. What and when you eat can impact blood sugar and hormonal balance, and ultimately, your moods, energy levels and cognitive function. Try to eat at regular intervals and avoid skipping meals, as hunger and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are known to set off the stress responses in the body.
Regular physical activity is essential to physical and mental well-being. Exercise regulates your body’s functions, helps keep you happy through the release of endorphins and is known to sharpen your mind and organize your thoughts – all which help to minimize stress.
Change your thoughts
When you feel stressful or anxious thoughts creeping in, try to change your thought pattern in the moment. Recalling a funny movie or a relaxing day at the beach can help break the pattern of stress and restore a measure of calmness. Employing the habit of daily gratitude practice can make it easier to remember a happy time and reset your mood when needed.
Put on a happy face
Simply forcing yourself to smile or laugh can trick your brain into happiness. Endorphins are released when you smile, triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy and help lower stress levels. Laughing increases oxygen intake, expands the lungs and stretches the muscles, thereby providing some of the same benefits as exercising. Good news — even faking a smile or a laugh can work as well as the real thing.