Just about everyone feels stress. Stress is not always a bad thing. Small amounts can actually improve your life by motivating you to push through obstacles. Stress has even helped us evolve.
On the other hand, too much stress can be awful for your health. Managing it is something we all should do, but often have trouble doing. You may already have some tried and true methods to help you deal with demanding times like sleeping enough and exercising regularly. When these aren’t enough, what can you do? What happens when the pressure seems too high and anxiety takes over? How can you become good at being calm?
You may not realize this, but being calm is actually a skill! Just like playing a sport or an instrument, or learning to cook, there is one major key to success- practice! How could you become a pro athlete or master chef without practice? You simply can’t! If you don’t practice something, there’s no history of success to reassure you. This concept applies to calming down. Here are some ways to practice serenity, so when the pressure mounts, you will be ready:
Focus on Your Breath: This one is an easy tip to follow because you’re always breathing! For a few minutes at a time, focus on a facet of your breathing. You may choose the sensation of your breath in your nose, or the rise and fall of your chest, or even the sound your breath makes. If your mind wanders, forgive yourself and refocus on your breath.
Improve Your Breathing: Research shows that few of us use our full breathing capacity. Instead, we tend to take shorter and shallower breaths. A few times a day, remember to take deep breaths. Make them slow and deliberate. Afterwards you’ll notice a change in your demeanor.
Laugh: Laughing has been shown to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Keep a funny book, comical YouTube clip, or a hilarious friend on speed dial. Getting a few laughs in can really help push you through a tough time.
Music: Make a playlist of songs that make you feel at ease. A song you love can make you feel like you did when you first heard it, so do yourself a favor and listen to it when times get rough.
Smell: Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic extracts and oils. Like music, certain smells can mentally and emotionally take you back to calmer times. The smell of warm cinnamon might remind you of your childhood. The smell of eucalyptus might remind you of a spa day you had in the past. Grass smells can remind you of enjoying a picnic. There are countless oil diffusers, aromatherapy products like lip balm, and even personal essential oil vaporizers.
It’s no coincidence that many of these techniques play a part in meditation. Meditation is a powerful skill that everyone can benefit from, but getting started isn’t always easy. These tips can help ease you into practicing calmness. Practice these methods when you’re already feeling peaceful, so you have a secret weapon against mounting stress!
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