10 steps to instant calm
How to calm down and de-stress
The clock ticks, your paper work pile mounts higher and higher and your in-laws have just texted you to say they’re 15 minutes away and are coming for a surprise, three-week visit. Let’s face it, day-to-day life can be extremely stressful and at some point we all need to take a deep breath and calm down. So, we’ve compiled 10 steps to instant calm to help you through those tough times.
Step 1 to instant calm: Progressive relaxation
Now, the words progressive relaxation may sound a little intimidating, but trust us, this relaxation technique is excellent, simple and convenient. Ideally this technique is performed whilst lying on the floor, but if you need to relax and you are at work or on the bus, you can adapt this technique and perform it wherever you are.
Begin by tightening the muscles in your toes and feet, hold the squeeze for five to eight seconds and then slowly release the muscles, again over a period of five to eight seconds. Repeat this exercise throughout your entire body, from your toes right up to your facial muscles and repeat three to four times. During the exercise focus on your breathing too and inhale deeply from the diaphragm.
Step 2 to instant calm: Chocolate
Ladies and gents, today is a good day. It turns out that chocolate is great for helping us to relax and de-stress. Chocolate is high in magnesium – which can help relaxation – and also contains anandamine, a neurotransmitter which can help you to experience a feeling of peace. With high levels of phenylethylamine, chocolate also raises endorphin levels, so all the more reason to unwind with your favourite chocolate treat.
Step 3 to instant calm: Action plan
For us worriers, daily stresses can become muddled and overbearing. To make your concerns more manageable write down a list of everything that is currently causing you stress. Then, next to each point try to think of ways you can overcome your concerns and ways in which you could reduce the anxiety each point is causing you. Don’t worry if you can’t think of solutions to each point, but tackling a few issues might help lower your stress levels and calm you down.
Step 4 to instant calm: Sex
Although we don’t suggest you hop into bed with any guy or girl you can find, if you have a partner getting hot and steamy can be a great way to unwind. A study of 24 women and 22 men found that those people who had had sex were able to cope better when stressed than those participants who had not had a night of passion.
Step 5 to instant calm: Hot and cold
Wouldn’t it be great if every time we felt harassed or needed to calm down we could book ourselves in for a luxurious spa treatment? Unfortunately, our schedules and bank balances don’t allow for this, yet there are some simple home remedies that can give you that after-spa feeling of serenity. Lie under a blanket in a dark room and place a hot water bottle at your feet and fresh cucumbers on your face. This contrast in temperature will deeply relax you and once you emerge you will feel peaceful and composed.
Step 6 to instant calm: Tryptophan
Certain foods have been found to counteract the effects of stress. These stress-busting foods all contain tryptophan, an amino acid that triggers the release of the feel-good chemical, serotonin, which in turn induces a sense of calm within you. So, if you need to calm down quickly munch on some of these foods, which all contain a healthy amount of tryptophan: turkey, cheese, nuts, chicken and soybeans.
Step 7 to instant calm: Worry diary
To calm down and de-stress keep a worry diary for at least two weeks. Keep your worry diary with you at all times and when you begin to become anxious or feel stressed write down what you are thinking about or what has triggered this feeling in the diary. After at least two weeks of compiling the diary take a look through what you have recorded and attempt to identify patterns or causes that have made you anxious. If you notice a pattern or certain causes attempt to address these issues to get a calmer, less stressed you.
Step 8 to instant calm: Music
Various studies have indicated a strong link between music and lowered stress levels in everyday life, while research has also indicated that music can lower extreme levels of stress in people undergoing surgery, critically ill patients and pregnant women. However, don’t worry; you don’t have to listen to whale music or other types of “relaxing” music if that doesn’t suit your personal tastes. Instead, choose something you enjoy listening to and whack on your headphones to relax.
Step 9 to instant calm: Exercise
Although hitting the gym and getting hot and sweaty can sometimes be the last thing we feel like doing when we feel stressed or worried, exercise provides a wide variety of psychological benefits and triggers the release of various endorphins and promotes our wellbeing. Yoga, boxercise and dancing have been found to be excellent forms of exercise if you want instant calm. Head down to a class or buy a DVD to unwind when stressed.
Step 10 to instant calm: Be realistic
It is common knowledge that when we get anxious our worries are blown out of all proportion and everyday obstacles can suddenly seem like unconquerable mountains. To keep calm try to be realistic about your worries. The best way to do this is to imagine that your friend has come to you with the same problem. What would you advise them? How would you react?