How To Calm Down When It All Seems Too Much
Everyone experiences frustration and fear at some time in their life, but when anger, panic, and anxiety disorders become part of a pattern, staying calm can seem overwhelming.
Even the most mentally healthy people in the world can have moments of anxiety, panic, or fear and have trouble calming down. When challenging emotions become overwhelming, it can help to employ some evidence-based strategies for calming down. Below, we’ll discuss ways to calm down in the face of anxiety, anger, and even panic attacks.
Benefits Of Learning How To Keep Calm
Several physical benefits are associated with calmness. The following are just a few:
- Lower blood pressure: Research shows that people who commonly have anxiety are more likely to experience hypertension later in life.
- Lower heart rate: Both anger and fear significantly in the moment.
- Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke: After a show of anger, the risk of heart attack and stroke rises.
- Reduced digestive problems: Anxiety can lead to digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea.
- Reduced overeating: Anger may lead to greater feelings of hunger and more impulsive eating.
Emotional And Social Benefits
If you know how to calm your mind, you may also experience profound emotional benefits. People who know how to control their emotions tend to have less depression and anxiety. They tend to be happier and less susceptible to shifting moods.
When you understand how to calm down from anxiety and anger, you may enjoy greater success at work, at home, and in social situations. You may also find that you can build stronger relationships and express your creativity better.
Identifying Fears And Frustrations
Sometimes, it may be challenging to identify what triggers fear and anger. Other times, a specific event or situation can cause these emotions to flare. It may help to first recognize that it’s acceptable to feel the way you do. Trying to deny your feelings may intensify them. Instead, being aware of your emotions and your triggers may help you prepare to be calm no matter the situation.
What Is It That Makes You Feel Angry?
While each person can experience anger for unique reasons, the following are some common triggers of anger for many people:
- Traffic jams
- Elections that don't go your way
- Social injustice
- Strict rules or laws
- People who hurt others intentionally
- People who correct you in public
- People who reprimand you at work
Perhaps you recognize some of the above triggers in your own life. You may notice that angry feelings are a common response for many of the items. However, if you learn how to calm down from anger when confronted by these challenges, you may find that you can manage the situation more effectively.
What Are You Afraid Of?
Fear can sometimes be a useful emotion when it helps us be more careful or stay away from dangerous situations. However, in other contexts, fear can be paralyzing. You can miss out on opportunities because you're afraid to try.
Recognizing your fears ahead of time may give you a chance to overcome them. People with anxiety may experience fear in many situations, but there is usually something that triggers it. They, too, may benefit from examining what makes them afraid.
The following are some common causes of fear in many people:
- Being a victim of crime
- Losing a loved one through death, divorce, or abandonment
- Experiencing a natural disaster
- Losing a job
- Speaking in public
- Being embarrassed
- Meeting new people
- Being in a crowd
- Being in a hospital
Some of these fears may serve essential functions. For example, being afraid of crime can prompt you to park in a well-lit area at night or lock your doors when you leave home. Being afraid that you can't support yourself may push you to work harder to find a job. However, other fears can paralyze you and cause the very thing that you fear to happen.
How To Calm Down From Anxiety Or Anger
Below are some strategies you might try to calm down when you experience fear, anger, or anxiety. You might try out several until you find a mix of techniques that work best for you.
Stay In The Moment
It can be easy to think excessively about the past or the future. For example, when tempers flare, thoughts of past grievances often fuel the fire, and anxiety tends to be more about the future. When you keep your thoughts in the present moment, you may find that you can manage the anger, fear, or panic in that moment.
Mindfulness is one strategy for staying in the moment. Mindfulness typically entails paying close attention to the information you are getting from your senses in the present moment. Being mindful may help you get in tune with what is going on so that you don't react in a way that leads to regret.
Thoughts that provoke anger or fear but have no other purpose may come into your mind repeatedly. Instead of letting them affect your emotions, you might practice the thought-stopping technique. When an unwanted thought starts repeatedly replaying, you might be able to stop it by mentally saying the word "Stop!" If your imagination is more visual, you might try to picture a stop sign. Every time the thought recurs, you can stop it again. Once you have practiced this method for a while, it may come more easily.
Remember Past Positive Outcomes
When you are faced with a challenge to your emotions, it may help to think about times in the past when the same situation turned out well. Perhaps you tend to get angry when you see a certain relative. Instead of dwelling on times when your personalities clashed, you might remember when you had a pleasant conversation. Similarly, if you are afraid you will have an accident when you drive across town, you can think of another time when you drove there and made it to your destination safely.
Take A Break
Resolving an emotion-fraught situation can be tiring and frustrating. It may help to take a break from it and come back later when you have calmed down. Mostly likely, either the problem will still be there for you to resolve, or it will have resolved in some other way and you won't have to face it.
Suggest Another Time Or Place To Settle A Problem
Sometimes, getting out of an argument or a fearful situation can be difficult. One possible way to get calm is to suggest coming back to the discussion or situation at another place or time. Moving to a more neutral place during a dispute may help calm your nerves if you are at a disadvantage. Once you arrive at the new location, you may feel more in control of your emotions.
You don't have to settle every dispute. Sometimes, it's okay to walk away from an argument and go on with your life.
If a confrontation or scary situation has concluded but you still feel angry or upset, you can take some time to have a cup of herbal tea like chamomile or lavender. For many people, these herbs tend to be safe and effective, but you might ask a doctor before trying them.
Muscle Relaxation Techniques
You might consider using muscle relaxation techniques when your muscles tense after an intense episode of anger. One technique is called progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and releasing each muscle group one by one.
How To Calm Down From A Panic Attack
Panic attacks fall into the more general category of anxiety. A panic attack is typically sudden, intense, and over quickly in most cases, usually peaking in about 10 minutes or less. The following are some strategies you can try to calm down during a panic attack.
Recognize You're Having A Panic Attack
If you've had panic attacks before, you may recognize the symptoms listed below. Feelings and sensations during a panic attack can be quite unsettling, but they are typically harmless:
- Your heart is racing.
- You feel weak or faint.
- You feel dizzy.
- You have numbness or tingling in your extremities.
- You feel terrified.
- You feel like you are going to die.
- You sweat or have chills.
- You have pains in your chest.
- Your breathing becomes irregular.
- You feel like you are losing control.
Don't Rush To Do Something About It
It's common for people with panic attacks to search frantically for methods to calm anxiety as soon as they feel the panic coming on. Because panic attacks usually only last a few minutes, waiting for them to pass may be more helpful. You might practice a technique called urge surfing, which involves feeling the anxiety rise and fall like waves until it finally dissipates and loses its power.
Stay Engaged in Activities You Need To Complete
If you aren't doing anything important, you can focus on using tips and techniques you've learned to calm a panic attack. However, if you're driving, you need to stay focused on the road until you can pull over.
Use Breathing Techniques
You might consider trying belly breathing to get yourself calmed down from a panic attack. Instead of breathing from your chest, try focusing on your belly, and breathe as if the breath is coming and going from that part of your body. Slow breathing may also be helpful. You might try breathing in for a slow count of five, holding your breath briefly, and then breathing out to a slow count of seven.
Remind Yourself It Will Pass
When you're in the midst of a panic attack, it can feel like it will last forever. It can feel so intense that you can forget it will only last a few moments. It may help to remind yourself that your panic attack is temporary and will soon be over. Once you learn how to calm down during panic attacks, they may happen less frequently, and if they do, you’ll know how to react.
How To Stay Calm
Getting calm only takes a short while, but staying that way can be a challenge. Knowing how to keep calm can be an important skill to learn, especially if you are prone to experiencing anger, anxiety, or panic attacks.
Accept Your Feelings
First, you might allow yourself to feel angry, anxious, or upset. You don't have to dwell on those feelings. You can just notice them without judgment.
Take A Positive Viewpoint
Once the angry or fearful moment has passed, you may find that you can adopt a positive viewpoint while resolving the situation. When you know how to calm down anxiety, a positive viewpoint may help keep you from getting upset again, and it may lead to a solution to problems when they arise.
Use Preventive Measures
Part of learning how to remain calm may involve preventing flare-ups before they happen. Making some small lifestyle changes may go a long way toward reducing emotional turmoil.
Research shows that stimulants, such as caffeine, may play a role in panic attacks. If it’s difficult to eliminate your consumption of caffeine, you might create a reduction plan.
Get Enough Sleep
Fitful sleep or not enough of it may make you prone to all kinds of emotional turmoil. It may help to implement some sleep hygiene practices. For example, you can make sure your room is dark, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and set an alarm to get up after 7-9 hours. If you snore or have trouble breathing, consider talking to a doctor to see if you have sleep apnea.
Research shows that exercise releases endorphins, which are “feel good” hormones. For this reason, working out may relieve tension and boost your mood. It may also help you sleep better, which may help you remain calm throughout the day.
Practicing daily meditation has a number of physical benefits, such as lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system, and it may make you feel more peaceful for the rest of the day. The longer you practice it, the more effective it might become.
Use Guided Imagery
Guided imagery typically involves evoking images of a calm, peaceful place in a way that incorporates the five senses. You can work with a therapist or get a guided imagery recording to listen to at home. The narrator usually describes a peaceful place in great detail so that you can imagine what it is like and mentally enter that peacefulness.
Devise Coping Statements
Coping statements are positive thoughts you can use to replace negative thoughts that arise with when you're angry or afraid. To be prepared for upsetting events and situations, you can make up a list of negative thoughts that might come to you and create a list of coping statements to replace them with.
Keep An Emotions Journal
No matter what kind of emotion tends to disturb you, it may help to keep a journal to write down your experiences with that emotion. You can write down what it felt like the last time you experienced it, how you reacted, and what happened afterward. This process may reinforce helpful behaviors as you begin to see what usually works best for you.
Getting Help For Staying Calm
If you still have trouble understanding how to calm down from anger, panic, or anxiety, it may help to speak with a licensed therapist who has experience in this area. If you feel hesitant to see a therapist in the office, you might consider online therapy, which numerous peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated to be effective for a variety of concerns, including anxiety.
With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can talk to a licensed therapist from home via phone, live chat, or videoconferencing. Also, you can contact your therapist at any time through in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can. This may be helpful if you experience anxiety in between sessions and want to write down your thoughts in the moment.
If you sometimes find it difficult to calm down, you’re not alone. Many people experience this from time to time, whether as a result of anxiety or specific life stressors. You may benefit from trying some evidence-based strategies for calming down, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Also, you might find it helpful to speak with a licensed counselor, whether in person or online.
With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience helping people with anxiety, panic attacks, or any other specific concerns you might be facing. Take the first step toward learning to invoke a sense of calm when you need it and reach out to BetterHelp today.
How do I calm down my anxiety?
Calming anxiety involves recognizing the body's stress response and learning to manage it effectively. When we feel anxious, our bodies activate the "fight or flight" response, releasing the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline. This physiological reaction can manifest as racing thoughts, a pounding heart, sweaty palms, and other uncomfortable sensations.
To address anxiety, it's crucial to acknowledge that our emotional energy plays a significant role. Anxiety can drain this emotional energy, leaving us feeling overwhelmed.
Here are some strategies to help calm anxiety:
- Deep breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing can help control our heart rate and relax tense muscles. To start, you'll take deep breaths through your nose, hold them for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Mindfulness and meditation: Techniques like mindfulness meditation can train you to stay present and reduce anxiety-inducing thoughts. Meditation can also help control your emotions and improve self-awareness.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups can help release tension in the body, leading to a calming effect. You'll start by tensing each muscle group for 5-10 seconds and then relaxing for 30 seconds before moving on to the next. Massaging pressure points like the forehead and palms can also help release tension.
- Physical activity: Regular exercise releases endorphins, natural mood lifters and stress reducers. Exercise can also help control sleep patterns and improve self-esteem and cognitive function while reducing anxiety.
- Getting outdoors: Natural surroundings can improve mental and emotional well-being. Walking, spending time in nature, or even opening the window for some fresh air can help calm anxiety.
- Reducing caffeine intake: Caffeine can increase heart rate and mimic anxiety symptoms. Cutting back on caffeine or switching to decaffeinated options may help reduce feelings of anxiousness. Chewing gum can replace caffeine as a stimulant while also providing a calming effect.
- Grounding techniques: Engaging your senses can help you stay in the present moment and alleviate anxiety. Some grounding techniques include focusing on your surroundings, holding an object with a particular texture or smell, or finding a safe space to retreat when feeling overwhelmed.
- Seeking professional help: Sometimes, anxiety can be challenging to manage independently. Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can give you the tools and support needed to address your anxiety effectively.
Why can't I calm down?
Calming down can be challenging for some individuals, particularly when managing persistent stress and anxiety. There are several reasons why it might be difficult:
- Chronic stress: Prolonged exposure to stressors can lead to chronic stress, making it harder to relax and calm down. The body's stress response system remains heightened. Even when we reduce stress, it can take time for the body's systems to return to their baseline state.
- Underlying conditions: Sometimes, an underlying mental health condition, such as generalized anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, contributes to ongoing anxiety that's difficult to manage.
- Unresolved issues: Unresolved personal or professional problems can fuel anxiety and make it difficult to find peace.
- Coping mechanisms: If unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance use, avoidance, or self-isolation have been relied upon, they can exacerbate anxiety over time.
- Lifestyle factors: An unhealthy lifestyle, including poor diet, inadequate sleep, lack of physical activity, or excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, can contribute to chronic anxiety.
- Genetics: Genetic factors can predispose some individuals to heightened stress responses.
- Trauma: Past traumatic experiences can impact mental health and make it challenging to calm down. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common diagnosis for individuals who have gone through trauma. PTSD can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and intense anxiety symptoms.
What is the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety?
The 3-3-3 rule is a simple and practical coping strategy for anxiety that can help individuals manage overwhelming feelings and regain control. It involves:
- Three things you see: You'll start by identifying three things you can see around you. This acknowledgment helps ground you in the present moment and shifts your focus away from anxious thoughts.
- Three sounds: Next, you'll name three sounds you can hear. This practice encourages you to be mindful of your surroundings and the sensory input in your environment.
- Move three parts of your body: Finally, you can move three parts of your body. The movement can be as simple as wiggling your toes, rolling your shoulders, or taking a few deep breaths. You can also touch three objects around you to engage your sense of touch.
The 3-3-3 rule is especially helpful in situations where anxiety is beginning to escalate. Engaging your senses and body can interrupt anxious thought patterns and return to the present. While it may not eliminate anxiety, it can be a useful tool in managing anxiety symptoms and preventing them from becoming overwhelming.
It's important to note that anxiety disorders are a significant mental health concern, affecting a substantial portion of the adult population. Recent study indicates that 10 to 14% of the adult population meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder each year. If you find that anxiety severely impacts your daily life, seeking support from a mental health professional is advisable. They can provide tailored strategies and treatments to address your specific needs.
Why do I feel uneasy when I'm calm?
Feeling uneasy when you're supposed to be calm can be a confusing experience, but it's not uncommon. There can be several underlying reasons for this sensation.
One possible explanation is related to your body's stress response. Even when you consciously try to relax, your body might still have elevated levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, due to underlying stressors or anxiety disorders. These hormones can keep your nervous system on edge, making it challenging to experience a true sense of calm.
Anxiety disorders can also play a significant role. Conditions like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can cause persistent, excessive worrying and physical symptoms like muscle tension, restlessness, and irritability. Even during attempted relaxation, these symptoms can persist, creating an uneasy feeling.
When our bodies are used to being in a heightened state of anxiety, it can feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable to be calm. However, with practice and patience, you may be able to retrain your body's stress response and learn to embrace moments of calmness without feeling uneasy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help identify and challenge underlying thought patterns and behaviors contributing to this uneasiness.
How can I quiet my mind?
Quieting the mind can be a challenging task, especially for individuals who live with anxiety. However, there are various techniques that you can try to help quiet your mind and find a sense of calm:
- Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help release them from your mind and provide clarity.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or body scans, can help calm racing thoughts and promote relaxation.
- Engaging in enjoyable activities: Doing something you enjoy, whether a favorite hobby or spending time with loved ones, can help distract your mind from anxious thoughts and bring a sense of joy and peace.
People can experience varying degrees of success with different techniques, so finding what works best for you is essential. If you're struggling to quiet your mind, seeking help from a therapist can provide additional support and guidance in developing effective coping strategies.
How long does anxiety last?
The duration of anxiety can vary greatly from person to person and depends on various factors, including the severity of the individual's symptoms, their coping skills, and the avail of treatment. In some cases, anxiety may only last for a short period, while in others, it may be an ongoing struggle.
Generally speaking, acute episodes of anxiety typically last for a few hours or days and may be triggered by a specific event or situation. Chronic anxiety, on the other hand, can last for weeks, months, or even years.
Anxiety attacks, which are intense and sudden bursts of anxiety, can also vary in duration. Depending on the individual's ability to manage their symptoms, they may last for a few minutes or continue for an extended period.
It's worth noting that untreated or poorly managed anxiety disorders can lead to prolonged periods of distress and impact daily life significantly. Everyone's experience with anxiety is unique, and there is no set timeline for recovery. However, with proper support and treatment, it's possible to manage anxiety effectively and improve overall well-being.
How can I calm myself at night?
Calming yourself at night is crucial for restful sleep and managing anxiety symptoms.
Here are a few stress relief strategies to try:
- Creating a bedtime routine: A consistent bedtime routine can signal your body that it's time for rest. Your routine may include reading, listening to calming music, or taking a warm bath.
- Practicing relaxation techniques: Engaging in relaxation techniques before bed can help quiet the mind and promote sleep. Some examples include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery.
- Limiting screen time: The blue light emitted from electronic devices can suppress melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Try to limit screen time at least an hour before bedtime to relieve stress from the day and prepare for a good night's rest.
- Creating a comfortable sleep environment: When your bedroom is conducive to sleep, it can help calm your mind. Blackout curtains, a white noise machine, or a weighted blanket can promote relaxation and alleviate stress.
- Limit late-night eating: Heavy meals and stimulants like caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. When you avoid these before bed, you can create a calmer and more peaceful mind and body.
What triggers people's anxiety?
Anxiety triggers can differ greatly from person to person. Some individuals may experience anxiety in response to certain situations, while others may experience it more generally.
Some common triggers for anxiety include:
- Stressful events: Major life changes, or significant stressors, such as a job loss or health concerns, can trigger feelings of anxiety.
- Past traumas: Individuals who have experienced past traumas may be more susceptible to experiencing anxiety in response to triggers that remind them of their trauma.
- Genetics: There is evidence that genetics can play a role in developing anxiety disorders. If you have a family history of anxiety, you may be at an increased risk of developing it yourself.
- Substance use or withdrawal: Alcohol, drugs, and some medications can trigger or worsen anxiety symptoms.
If you find that certain situations or triggers are consistently causing you to experience anxiety, exploring coping strategies with a therapist may be helpful. Understanding and developing healthy ways to manage your triggers can greatly improve your mental well-being.
What does 54321 mean?
The 54321 method is a coping technique that can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety. The method involves using your five senses to focus on your surroundings and bring yourself back to the present moment.
Here's how it works:
- Acknowledge 5 things you see around you. These could be objects in your immediate environment or larger details. Take a moment to notice and name them.
- Acknowledge 4 things you can touch. These could be the texture of your clothes, the sensation of your feet on the ground, or the feeling of wind on your skin.
- Acknowledge 3 things you hear. Focus on sounds in your environment, whether big or small. They could be birds chirping outside or the hum of an appliance in your home.
- Acknowledge 2 things you can smell. Bring your attention to any scents around you, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
- Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste. Take a sip of water or pay attention to the lingering taste of something you ate earlier.
The 54321 technique can be used anytime, anywhere, and is a helpful tool in managing stress and overwhelming emotions.
How do I know if I have anxiety?
If you experience persistent and excessive worry or fear that interferes with daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Other common anxiety symptoms include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.
A mental health professional can diagnose an anxiety disorder after conducting a comprehensive evaluation and ruling out other potential causes of your symptoms. If you have concerns about your mental health, it's essential to seek professional help.
Talking to a therapist or doctor is the first step in understanding and managing your anxiety. Seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength and self-care. You can learn effective coping strategies and work towards a healthier and more fulfilling life by seeking support.
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