How To Calm Down When It All Seems Too Much
Updated June 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Heather Cashell
Keeping your cool can be a challenging task, especially in the fast-paced, often dangerous world of the 21st century. Everyone deals with frustration and fear at some time in their life, but when anger, panic and anxiety disorders become a part of a pattern, staying calm can be almost overwhelming. Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in America.
In a 12-month period, 18.1% of adults in the U.S. reported suffering from it. Panic disorder is rarer, with only 2.7% of the adult population reporting it, but just as distressing to the people who live with it. People with anger problems often have trouble knowing how to remain calm as well. Still, even the most mentally healthy people in the world can have moments of anxiety, panic or fear until they master the art of how to stay calm.
Benefits of Learning How to Keep Calm
Feelings of anger, fear and panic are uncomfortable, to say the least. This is reason enough to know how to calm yourself down. Other reasons make keeping calm even more desirable.
Several physical benefits are associated with calmness.
- Lower blood pressure: Science has proven the notion that people who commonly have anxiety are more likely to suffer from hypertension later in life.
- Lower heart rate: Anger and fear both increase heart rate significantly in the moment.
- Reduce risk of heart attack and stroke: After a show of anger, heart attack risk and stroke risk
- Reduce digestive system problems: Both constipation and diarrhea have been associated with emotional problems, especially anxiety, for many years.
- Reduce overeating: In a study conducted at the University of Wurzburg, Germany, feelings of anger were associated with greater feelings of hunger and more sensory and impulsive eating.
- Other benefits: By keeping calm, you might avoid hair loss and skin problems and boost your immune system.
If you know how to calm your mind, you can also experience profound emotional benefits. People who know how to regulate their emotions tend to have less depression and generalized anxiety. They are happier and better able to appreciate the positive things and people around them.
To Increase Success
When you can understand how to calm down from anxiety and anger, you can enjoy greater success at work, at home, and in social situations. You can build stronger relationships. Knowing how to stay calm can increase your creativity, too.
Identify Fears and Frustrations
Sometimes, it's hard to know what triggers fear and anger. Other times, a specific event or situation causes your emotions to flare. It's okay to feel the way you do. Trying to deny those feelings can intensify them. Yet, being aware of your triggers can help you prepare yourself by learning how to be calm no matter what situation comes up.
What is it that makes you feel angry?
- Traffic jams?
- Incompetent workers?
- Elections that don't go your way?
- Social injustice?
- Paying taxes?
- Strict rules or laws?
- Being rejected in a relationship?
- People who hurt you or others intentionally?
- Being corrected in public?
- Being reprimanded at work?
The list could go on and on. As you read it, did you recognize any of your hot buttons? Notice that angry feelings are an appropriate response for many of the items. Remember, it isn't the feeling that is wrong. Yet, if you learn how to calm down from anger when confronted by these issues, you can manage the situation in the most effective way.
What about fear? What are you afraid of?
Fear is a helpful emotion when it helps us be more careful or stay away from dangerous situations. Unfortunately, fear can be paralyzing. You can miss out on great opportunities because you're afraid to try. Most people only feel fear occasionally, but an improper response to it can cause other problems to arise. Recognizing your fears ahead of time can give you a chance to overcome them. People with anxiety disorders may find fear around every corner, but there is usually something that triggers it. They, too, can benefit from examining what makes them afraid.
Which of these fears makes you feel anxious or panicked? Are you afraid of:
- Losing a loved one through death, divorce or abandonment?
- Angry people?
- Natural disasters?
- Losing your job?
- Public speaking?
- Not meeting survival needs?
- New situations?
- Meeting new people?
- Being in a crowd?
- Being in a hospital?
- Your own death?
Many of these fears serve essential functions. 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 can push you to work harder to find a job. Or, these fears can paralyze you and cause the very thing that you fear to happen. That's the biggest reason you need to know how to calm anxiety.
How to Calm Down from Anxiety or Anger
You have a wide range of options to choose from to help you get and stay calm. Try out several until you find a smaller subset of techniques that works best for you.
Stay in the Moment
When you keep your thoughts in the present moment, you are only dealing with the anger, fear or panic in that moment. Often, when tempers flare, thoughts of past grievances add fuel to the fire. Anxiety is more about the future. Incessant worrying can make what might have been a neutral event into one filled with thoughts of unpleasant times ahead.
Mindfulness is akin to staying in the moment, but it is a more specific technique. Mindfulness involves paying close attention to the information you are getting from your senses in the present moment. Being mindful can help you get in tune with what is really going on so that you don't blow it out of proportion.
Thoughts that provoke anger or fear but have no other purpose may come into your mind repeatedly. Instead of letting them affect your emotions, practice the thought-stopping technique. When an unwanted thought starts replaying over and over, stop it by mentally saying the word "Stop!" Or, if your imagination is more visual, you can picture a stop sign. Every time the thought recurs, stop it again. Once you have practiced this method for a while, it will come more easily in the future.
Remember Past Positive Outcomes
When you are faced with a challenge to your emotions, think about times in the past when the same situation has turned out well. Perhaps you tend to get angry when you see a relative. Instead of dwelling on times when your personalities clashed, remember a time when you had a pleasant conversation. If you are afraid you will have a wreck when you drive across town, 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. Take a break from it and come back later, when you have calmed down. 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 It
Sometimes, it can be hard to get out of a fight or a fearful situation. One way to get calm is to suggest coming back to the discussion or situation at another place or time. You can get back to what you were doing before you got upset, and you can let tomorrow take care of tomorrow. Moving to a more neutral place during a dispute is how to calm your nerves if you find yourself at a disadvantage. Once you arrive at the new location, you can 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. Be careful with herbal remedies if you are taking prescription medications. For many people, these herbs are safe and effective.
Muscle Relaxation Techniques
You can use muscle relaxation techniques when your muscles are tense after an episode of intense anger. One is to lie down and tense and release each muscle group in succession.
How to Calm Down from a Panic Attack
Panic attacks fall into the more general category of anxiety. A panic attack is a specific type of anxiety that is sudden, intense, and over quickly in most cases, usually in about 10 minutes or less. Knowing how to calm down a panic attack before it happens can make your life more pleasant and manageable.
Recognize You're Having a Panic Attack
If you've had panic attacks before, you will recognize the symptoms listed below. If you are unsure about the symptoms of a panic attack, learn them. Then, in the moment the panic attack is happening, tick them off one by one as you recognize them. Feelings and sensations that happen during a panic attack can be quite unsettling, but they are 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.
Distinguish Between Fear and Danger
The next step in learning to how to calm down a panic attack is to sort out what is a baseless feeling of fear and what is an actual danger.
Don't Rush to Do Something About It
It's common for people with panic attacks to scramble for methods for how to calm anxiety fast as soon as they feel the panic coming on. Because panic attacks usually only last a few minutes, it makes more sense to wait for them to pass. Trying to think about what to do to help yourself when your mind is focused on intense fear may be nearly impossible. It's better to wait if you can before you start trying to find a way out of your panic.
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 while discovering how to calm an anxiety attack. But, if you're driving, you need to stay focused on the road, at least until you can get your car off the road.
Use Breathing Techniques
Try belly breathing to get yourself calmed down from a panic attack. Instead of breathing from your chest, focus on your belly and breathe as if the breath is coming and going from that part of your body. Slow breathing can also be helpful. Try breathing into a slow count of five, holding your breath briefly, and then breathing out to a slow count of seven.
Ask What If Questions
Many fears are so exaggerated that it's easy to lose sight of what will happen if they come to pass. If you're afraid you'll get lost when you drive to a new place, ask yourself what would happen if you did get lost. You could ask for directions, get out your road map, or notice where the sun was in the sky to determine what direction you were going. If your answers are more ominous, ask yourself how likely they are to happen.
Remind Yourself It Will Pass
When you're in the midst of a panic attack, it can feel like it will last forever. It is so intense that you can forget it will only last a few moments. Remind yourself your panic attack is a temporary thing and that it will soon be over. Once you learn how to calm down a panic attack, it becomes less likely that they will happen. And, if they do, you know what to think about and 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 is an important skill to learn, especially if you are prone to experiencing anger, anxiety or panic.
Accept Your Feelings
First, allow yourself the permission to feel angry, anxious or upset. Don't dwell on those feelings. Just notice them.
Take a Positive Viewpoint
Once the angry or fearful moment has passed, you can adopt a positive viewpoint while the situation is being resolved. Be a problem-solver. When you know how to calm down anxiety, the positive viewpoint will help keep you from getting upset again.
Take Action When It Is Appropriate
If you are in an emergency situation, you are likely to feel fearful. Most people do. One way to stay calm after you've managed to get calm is to do whatever you can find to do that will help the situation.
A part of learning how to calm nerves is preventing flare-ups before they happen. Making lifestyle changes can go a long way towards reducing emotional upsets. You can also prepare yourself for emotionally upsetting situations by investigating how you typically react to them, practicing calming techniques, and thinking out what you could do if anger or panic happens.
Panic, anxiety and anger get your heart pumping by themselves. You don't need caffeine speeding up your heart rate more.
Eat Healthy Foods
Following a healthy diet can help you feel more peaceful in general. It's especially important to get the vitamins and minerals that can relieve stress and reduce anger and anxiety. Magnesium and the B Vitamins are helpful for people with anger or anxiety.
Get Enough Sleep
Fitful sleep or not enough of it can make you prone to all kinds of emotional upsets. Make sure your room is dark, go to bed at a reasonable hour, set an alarm to get up after 7-9 hours, and go to sleep. If you snore or have trouble breathing, talk to a doctor to see if you have sleep apnea.
Working out your muscles relieves tension and boosts your mood.
Practicing daily meditation makes you more peaceful for the rest of the day. The longer you practice it, the more effective it becomes. A basic way to meditate is to imagine you are looking up at clouds as they float by above you. Place each of the angry of fearful thoughts that arise onto the top of a cloud. Notice the cloud as it glides by, but let it pass without trying to hold onto it.
Guided imagery sessions can help you become a calmer person. You can work with a therapist or get a guided imagery recording to listen to at home. The narrator describes a peaceful place in great details so you can imagine what it is like and mentally enter into that peacefulness.
Devise Coping Statements
Coping statements are positive thoughts you can use to replace negative thoughts that come up 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 gets the better of you, you can keep a journal to write down your experiences with it. Write down what it felt like, how you reacted, and what happened afterward. This reinforces helpful behaviors as you begin to see what usually works the best.
Getting Help for Staying Calm
If you still have trouble understanding how to calm down from anger, panic or anxiety, a therapist can help. If you need help putting these techniques into practice, talking with a therapist can help you learn more about yourself, how you react to stressors, and what you can do to improve your emotional well-being. Licensed counselors are available at BetterHelp.com to talk with you about this and other mental health issues as they relate to learning how to calm down when angry or anxious.
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