Knowing how to calm yourself down when you’re feeling anxious, distressed or angry is critical for emotional self-regulation. If you’re suddenly not feeling calm, something has likely caused you stress or anxiety. Perhaps you got bad news, or you suddenly got a bad feeling about something. Maybe you’re in a fight with your partner and you’re worried you’re going to lose them. Strained relationships with family, friends, coworkers or your employer can also cause you to not feel calm.
Being anxious is typically a pretty horrible feeling, so it’s natural to want to know how you can calm yourself down quickly.
If You Know How to Self-Regulate, You Can Calm Yourself Down Much More Easily
When someone says they know how to self-regulate their emotions, they’re really referring to their ability to self-regulate their nervous system. When you’re not feeling calm, or you’re generally feeling anxious or on-edge, most likely your nervous system is dysregulated.
People often learn how to self-regulate by going to therapy. Psychologists, therapists and counselors often have great tips for how to self-soothe, calm yourself down, and self-regulate your nervous system.
However, it’s possible to learn how to self-regulate and calm yourself down, without the help of a professional. Sometimes, all you need to do is understand which metaphorical tools you need to keep in your metaphorical toolbox.
For example, if singing karaoke seems to almost instantly calm you down and singing out loud helps regulate your nervous system, you’d want to keep a mental note of this. Karaoke would be in your metaphorical toolbox – the one you open when you need to calm yourself down quickly.
Other self-soothing tools in your toolbox might include breathing exercises that work for you, a favorite walk or trail, a weighted blanket, or a friend you like to call when you feel stressed.
Below are 5 more detailed examples of ways you can calm yourself down quickly.
1. Try Focused Breathing Exercises
Never underestimate the power of deep breathing. Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply with intent will help calm your nervous system very quickly. Many people find that certain breathing exercises help them feel calmer almost instantly.
Check out this list of breathing exercises that help calm you down almost instantly. Try all of them, and see which one works best for you.
Focused, deep breathing for even just 5 minutes can help you calm yourself down very efficiently.
2. Challenge Negative Thoughts
Many people swear by the fact that they can calm themselves down by talking themselves down. Talking yourself down involves challenging negative thoughts either verbally or in writing.
For example, imagine you don’t feel calm one evening because your boss sent you an email where they sounded angry, and you’re worried about your job. You could write down the negative thought that’s giving you anxiety, such as, I’m worried that I messed up, and now I might lose my job.
Then, cross that out, and directly underneath, write a positive statement that challenges the negative thought. In this case, you might write, My boss is aware of all that I bring to the table. Even if my boss is upset, I can smooth it over.
Read that positive statement out loud to yourself several times. This works because negative, intrusive thoughts that are making you feel agitated need to be acknowledged and challenged. Many people instantly feel calmer once they acknowledge their negative thought, and put a positive spin on it.
3. Go for a Walk
Sometimes, to calm yourself down, all you really need to do is release nervous energy by getting up and moving. Exercise or going for a walk can help rid your body of nervous energy.
This will work even better if you can go for a walk somewhere scenic where you feel immersed in nature, because spending time outdoors in nature is good for your mental health.
If you get your body moving, breathe in fresh air, and take in the view of trees, ocean, mountains or greenery, you’ll feel calmer.
4. Give Yourself a Tight Hug
A tight, 10 second hug can work wonders to calm yourself down. Hug yourself tightly, or get a tight hug from a loved one.
Why does this work? A tight hug activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that’s responsible for relaxing you. Physical touch and hugs help calm the nervous system, and they also release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is an anxiety-reducing, mood-boosting hormone.
5. Try a Guided Meditation
A quick, 5 minute guided meditation on YouTube could help you calm down very quickly. Meditation helps calm both the body and mind.
Guided meditations often also involve breathing exercises and music therapy for additional stress relief.
Try a few different guided meditations on YouTube. If you find one you really like that legitimately helps you calm down, save it and use it as your go-to whenever you’re feeling anxious, stressed, agitated, angry or nervous.
In fact, regular meditation is great for your brain health.
Do You Often Feel Anxious?
If you find that you’re often feeling agitated, anxious, or on-edge, a mental health condition could be the cause. You could have an anxiety disorder, ADHD, or another mental health condition that makes you often feel like you need to calm down.
Find out if you have any genetic predispositions to certain mental health conditions or if you’re genetically more likely to be a ‘worrier’ by taking an at-home DNA test from CircleDNA.
Remember that knowing how to calm down when you’re feeling distressed is for your benefit, not for the benefit of others. It’s important to know how to calm yourself down, because it’s an uncomfortable feeling to be anxious, and too much stress is bad for your overall health.