9 Instant Ways to Calm Yourself Down


Something pushed you over the edge. Whether your kids are screaming at each other again, you had another work project dumped on your lap, or your spouse said something insensitive, you may want to know how to calm yourself down in these moments.

The need to calm down — now — is different from seeking out general stress management. “How I like to differentiate the two is that stress can be a pervasive, long-term feeling that we deal with in the background of our minds. The other is an acute presentation of anxiety or stress in the moment,” says Jennifer Anders, PsyD, of Yellow Pine Therapy in Boulder, Colorado. Each requires a different approach.

Namely, you can know all the good stress-coping skills — taking a walk, doing yoga, carving out “me” time in your day — but when you’re in a high anxiety state you’re in a state of dysregulation, says Dr. Anders. Meaning your nervous system has entered the sympathetic fight-or-flight, which makes it hard to think straight. “You really can’t access common stress-coping skills when you’re dysregulated. Instead, you do need to calm your body and mind down fast,” she says. This requires techniques that bring your body back into parasympathetic “rest and digest” quickly.

After using one of the many calming techniques, you can then make a plan to problem-solve or determine ways that you’ll manage future stress. But when you’re in the moment, here’s how to calm down fast. Note that not all tips will work or resonate for you — it’s important to pick those that you feel comfortable with and are doable based on your preferences and circumstances.


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