How to calm yourself down – 7 practical hacks that really work
There are both physiological and psychological ways to tame the beast that lies beneath the exterior. Doing so is not easy, but it is totally doable if you want to change those behaviors that end up hurting you (and those you love) the most.
#1 Breathing techniques. Humans have two types of nervous system responses: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. The parasympathetic is when the nervous system is in a calm and nonresponsive mode.
Once you pass into the sympathetic nervous system, your nervous system thinks “it’s on.” The flight or fight response makes you react differently. Driven by adrenaline, you act out of instinct, and your brain pretty much takes a back seat. So, how do you overcome the sympathetic system?
Breathing. It is a scientific fact that deep breathing moves a body from the sympathetic system to the parasympathetic. Sure, you don’t need the science behind it, all you need to know is that if you can take ten deep breathes, like super deep, it calms you the hell down physically. In most cases, your emotions follow suit.
#2 Go for a walk. It isn’t just deep breathing that calms your body down. Going for a walk, jog, or even run, allows the built-up adrenaline to work its way through the body. Once the adrenaline has “left the building,” it is much easier to see things clearly and deal on a less emotional and more rational plane.
#3 Remove the emotions. When we remove emotions from any situation and stop ascribing intent, it is much easier to deal with the issue on hand. Often, we are all worked up about things that need not get us worked up.
If you consider a situation and strip your own feelings out of it, or maybe put yourself into someone else’s shoes, you just might find no harm was meant. You also find that you need not be angry.
One of the biggest reasons we lose our cool is out of hurt. If you refuse to be hurt by something that happens, you address it without intensity. Instead, see it as a problem that needs to be solved.
#4 Write a letter you don’t intend to send. If you struggle calming yourself down, sometimes it is because you feel like you aren’t saying what you want. It burns inside of you.
If you want to know how to calm yourself down and vent in a way that won’t come back to bite you in the ass, write down what you want to get off your chest to the person that upset you. Unleash in words and walk away.
In a couple of days, when you have calmed down, decide if you want to send it. But, sometimes just getting it out on paper is enough to let it go and be free from the thing that gets you off.
#5 Vent to a third party. The problem we face when we get all worked up, we usually unleash on the worst person ever. If your boss or partner pushed you over the edge, calling them out is going to do nothing but make things super ugly.
Instead of starting a fight that spins out of control, let your anxiety and angst out on someone with heavy shoulders. Don’t engage in a fight if you are not thinking clearly. Instead call your BFF to discuss your feelings, sort through them, and decide if the battle is worth fighting. In most cases, once you let the anger out, you find it isn’t worth going to battle. And you let it all go.
#6 Find your happy place. Even if you aren’t a yogi or a meditation guru, finding your happy place is an excellent way to calm yourself down. We all have a memory of past events or places that make us happy.
When highly intense and engaged, picture sitting on the beach, mountain climbing, or breathing in the fresh air of the outdoors. Visualization takes you away from your worst nightmare and imports you into your best dreams. Simply close your eyes and let your mind go.
#7 Think about the consequences. Sometimes when caught in the moment, we lose control and don’t think about how our behaviors leads to consequences. If you are a frequent crazy-train rider, instead of losing your shit, next time think about where that train took you and the fallout you had from getting onboard.
Sometimes, the best prevention is remembering the pain from the past. If going batshit crazy didn’t serve you well last time, chances are very good they won’t the next time either. As hard as it is when all fired up, stop to think about what happens if you lose your temper. It just might deter you from following through with habitual behaviors that land you in trouble.
We all have the capacity to lose our ever-loving shit. Sometimes it serves us well, but if you stop to think about it, normally it doesn’t. If you are like most of us, there is that point where you can calm the hell down or let shit fly. Just remember that there are always consequences to losing control.
Calming yourself down when someone or something sets you off takes some real maturity and awareness. But, it is totally doable even for the most emotional ones among us.