We all lead very hectic and stressful lives these days, and, as you know, it’s not always easy to stay calm and focused in certain situations. The following 3 techniques can be utilized to bring instant calm and tranquility when you need it most, allowing you to stay composed and focused when you need to be.
Method #1 ~ Breath deeply.
You’ve heard it many times before, no doubt: “Take a deep breath!” Well, there is definite truth to this old saying. Deep breathing can bring about relaxation almost instantly. Pausing for a moment, and taking even a single deep breath can benefit the mind and body, and bring calm to a chaotic mind.
The trick is to do what is known as “diaphragm breathing”, or belly breathing. This means that you expand your lower abdomen when you breath in, almost as if the air is collecting in the belly. Doing this expands your diaphragm, which is a thick, flat muscle that lies beneath the lungs. Expanding your diaphragm enables more air into the lungs, giving the brain extra oxygen, and releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, calming the mind and body.
And it’s such a simple and easy thing to do! Next time you’re in a stressful situation, take a big, deep belly breath before responding. Even a single breath can calm you enough to think clearly and not overreact.
Taking a 10 minute break to focus entirely on breathing can also bring big benefits, and can keep you in a calm state of mind for hours. The trick is to breathe slowly, too. For example, breathe in for 5 seconds, pause for 1 second, then slowly breathe out.
Method #2 ~ Come to Your Senses!
“Come to Your Senses” is the title of a popular book by the author Stanley Block. In summary, the method discussed in the book involves consciously focusing on the sensations of your body from your 5 senses, to bring about a state of calm.
This can be practiced at any time. In fact, the more you do it, the better. The technique gets you “out of your own head”, as it were, because it is almost impossible to be stressed about a situation or thought when you are actively concentrating on your surroundings.
For example, try thinking of something that happened recently that annoyed you, or made you feel bad. While keeping this in mind, listen carefully to any noises you can hear right now. Every tiny bump or “whir” that you never normally notice. If you’re in your home as you read this, perhaps you can hear the fridge running, the clock ticking, the traffic zooming past and other noises. When you do this, you’ll notice that the thought that annoyed you before, no longer has any effect. If you want to continue, try focusing on what you can feel, down to the most minute detail. Or what you can see or smell.
You don’t always have to use this on old thoughts. It can be used in the present moment at any time to distract you, and relieve stress.
Method #3 ~ Relaxation Response
The relaxation response is a very effective method to de-stress and keep calm. It was introduced in the 1970’s by Herbert Benson. It is a little bit like the “Come to Your Senses” technique mentioned above, but it concentrates more on physical relaxation.
The relaxation response is almost a type of meditation, but it is a lot simpler.
To perform the relaxation response, you’ll need to be in a comfortable position, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. The mind needs to be focused during the exercise. To do this, concentrate on your breathing, or repeat a sound or word over and over.
To begin this method, close your eyes. Now mentally relax your muscles, starting at the toes. Deeply feel your toes relaxing, then your feet, your legs, the pelvic region, the abdomen and chest, upper and lower back. Then relax your fingers, hands wrists and arms. Your neck, face, scalp and especially the jaw (a lot of tension is held here).
If you find it hard to relax, it can help to contract the muscle, then release. Or use your imagination to feel as if the muscle is under warm, heavy sand, or saturated in golden light.
It’s best to remain like this for around 20 minutes, breathing easily. Afterward, sit quietly for a few minutes before resuming the rest of your day. It is most beneficial to practice the relaxation response once or twice a day.
The above 3 methods will be extremely helpful if you want to avoid emotional and mental stress, be instant calm and tranquility, and have that much admired ability to stay calm in any crisis.