This article has been medically reviewed by Howard Orel, MD. Board-certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Orel runs an active general pediatric practice, Advocare Marlton Pediatrics. He also serves as CEO of Advocare — one of the largest independent medical groups in the country.
Feeling overwhelmed and anxious is normal (especially these days). When we’re feeling stressed, angry, or even upset, it can feel almost impossible to find ways to calm down. While we might not be able to control what’s happening around us, we do have control over how we choose to behave and respond to those challenges. Sometimes simple deep breathing exercises and soothing relaxation techniques are the perfect coping mechanisms, but other times they just won’t cut it. Whether you’re dealing with work, a conflict with a partner, or feeling overwhelmed with the daily realities of parenthood, here are some useful tricks to manage your stress and find an effective way to calm down as soon as possible.
How to Calm Down From Anxiety
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your thoughts or a challenging situation, here are some quick tips to help you find some peace.
- Use logic. A lot of anxiety stems from fear-based storytelling and we let our minds dictate our emotions. When feeling anxious, apply logic to your situation. Is what you’re feeling based on fact? What’s the probability of what you’re worried about actually coming true? Is there another solution that can help your situation more effectively than worry? What is that?
- Chew gum. Sounds weird, but a small 2009 study suggests chewing gum can significantly better alertness and reduce anxiety, stress, and salivary cortisol.
- Write it out. Step out of your mind’s fear and write out what you’re stressed about. Journaling is an excellent way to process and express emotions while reducing their intensity.
- Go for a walk. Exercise is a great way to deal with stress and release negative energy.
- Incorporate yoga into your daily routine. Taking 10 to 20 minutes to center yourself and focus on your breathing. This is an excellent way to put your mind at ease.
- Talk to yourself. Talking it out when you feel out of sorts is an effective way to work through your feelings. So don’t be afraid to converse alone, and feel free to talk in third person if that helps.
How to Calm Down When Angry
Anger can be necessary, but it can also be an explosive emotion that can have negative effects on yourself and others, depending on how you deal with it and express it. If you’re having trouble calming down when you’re mad, here’s what to keep in mind to cool your jets.
- Count to 100. Counting is a good way to ground yourself and focus your attention elsewhere.
- Try to replace your angry thoughts. Often, when we’re in the throes of anger, all we can think of is how upset we are. Our mind keeps jumping from one irritating situation to another. Take a moment to switch your thoughts to more rational and logical ones. Can you see things from a different perspective? Is there a solution to the upsetting issue? Is there a resolution that would make you feel good?
- Take a deep breath and go for a walk. Sometimes removing yourself from the situation and going for a walk, or even leaving a room, can help clear your head and ease the tension.
- Exercise. Work it out (literally). Sometimes the best way to release anger is to take it to the gym or go for a run. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and boost endorphins, which are the happy chemicals in your brain. The next time you feel like you’re about to blow, sweat it out. It’ll calm you down and clear your head so you can better manage your problems.
How to Calm Down From a Panic Attack
A panic attack can feel overwhelming. Here’s how to calm down quicker.
- Remember this too shall pass. A panic attack, while intense, is a passing experience. Remember that your feelings will go away. Focus on them leaving you and try to calm yourself down with the knowledge it will end soon.
- Smell some lavender. Lavender can be a soothing and calming scent. Whether you add some essential oil to a bath or a diffuser, the scent can help reduce anxiety and keep you grounded.
- Repeat a mantra. Repeating a calming mantra or positive affirmation can help bring your focus back to the present moment and can be reassuring to remind you. It can be as simple as, “I am at peace. This too shall pass.”
How to Calm Down When Stressed and Overwhelmed
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Here’s how to lighten the load.
- Delegate or delete. If you’ve got too much on your plate, it’s a good idea to consider what you can delegate to someone else or what you can do away with altogether.
- Listen to calming music. Calming music, such as classical or spiritually-themed, can help bring you back to the present moment. Even your favorite anthem can get your energy up.
- Hydrate and fuel. Hydrating properly and fueling yourself with nutritious food can help you slow down and focus your attention back on your well-being.
How to Calm Down When Sad
Feeling sad can suck (just the truth). Here are a few hacks for coping when you’re feeling down.
- Don’t judge yourself. Let the sadness be there. Allow the tears or despair to flow and let yourself feel what needs to come out without any judgment.
- Make yourself laugh. Watch a funny movie or talk to a funny friend. Do what you need to lift your mood.
- Move your body. Often, when we’re sad, we’re too much into our minds and feelings. Doing something physically active, like going for a walk or even a sweaty workout, can distract you while releasing endorphins. Research shows physical exercise can improve mood and decrease anxiety.
- Listen to upbeat music. Listening to heartbreak music or Adele may send you further into your sadness spiral. But an upbeat tune can help put you in a lighter mood and make you feel a little better.
- Write it out. Sometimes the best way to push through sad thoughts is to write them down. Expressing yourself can be cathartic!