Feeling worried or anxious is a normal part of life, and every one of us is affected differently by the things going on around us. If you’re feeling concerned rather than carefree, it may be wise to work on your calming techniques.
Some of these activities take seconds, while others require a scheduled hour, but all of them can help calm you down. And, it’s not just for your emotional health. Having too much stress or worry in your day-to-day life can lead to physical health problems, too. We’ve talked about cortisol before - the stress hormone that increases when our adrenaline pumps. High cortisol can lead to an uncomfortably long list of health problems, including heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes, and weight gain.
It’s safe to say that we want to reduce our stress and anxiety as much as we can! Here are 7 quick and easy ways to get that zen flowing!
In Through The Nose, Out Through The Mouth.
Deep breathing or meditating tends to be number one on every anxiety-reducing list out there, including this one. The reason? It works. While it’s hard to believe that something as simple as breathing can make such a difference, it truly does. That’s because breathing increases the supply of oxygen to our brains, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.
Even if you’re driving or in a work meeting, you’ll always be able to focus on how you are breathing. To get the most benefits, your breathing should move from shallow to deep. Also known as belly breathing, or in fancy terms as diaphragmatic breathing, this type of breathing is just how it sounds - breathe in so deeply that you feel your belly rise. (We bet you’re already breathing more deeply after reading that sentence.)
One method to calm down your nervous system quickly is called the “4-7-8” breathing technique. Here’s how to do it: Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath at the top for 7 seconds, then gently whoosh the breath out through the mouth for 8 seconds. Try it right now; we dare you! Instantaneous calm awaits you.
Soak Up The Sunshine
Don’t dismiss the power of the sun to make you feel better! Other than its potential to leave you with a blistered sunburn, sunlight is beneficial in many ways. Exposure to the bright sun, especially first thing in the morning, can boost the amount of serotonin your body produces, also known as your happy hormone. If you’re feeling extra-worried or anxious, taking a step outside or sitting in a sun-drenched window can work wonders.
Bonus points if you can get out into nature! Being near forests or greenery of any kind has been shown to reduce anxiety. Especially in the wintertime, when that sunshine only appears for those few short hours per day, we need to make sure our entire day isn’t spent cooped up indoors. Not only does sunlight boost our serotonin, but the UVB rays convert into vitamin D in our skin.
Most Americans are inadequate or deficient in the so-called sunshine vitamin, and these low levels have been linked to an increase in mental health disorders. While we don’t want you to get sunburned, a few minutes in the sunshine can increase your vitamin D and serotonin levels without risking your skin.
Write It Out
Whether you want to call it a journal, a diary, or just some thoughts typed into your Notes app, writing out your feelings in a “brain dump” can lead to immediate relief from worry. Although physically writing things down may have more of an impact than typing, any way that you can release your emotions and thoughts is a good thing.
Journals can range from a napkin at a bar to an old spiral-bound notebook to a fancy leather-skinned diary; it doesn’t matter what you use. Just get that pen to paper and don’t edit your thoughts - you can always tear it up (or delete it) after you’re done!
Talk It Out
More often than not, we’re worrying about things that are either out of our control, or things that won’t be that big of a deal in the long run. (A good test: will this matter one year from now? Five years from now?)
Talking it out, whether it’s with a close friend or a trusty therapist, can work wonders on how you’re feeling. It’s definitely time to release society’s stigma in going to therapy; everybody could benefit from the impartial advice and supportive soundboard that a therapist can provide.
Fight Worry With Weight
Another immediate way to relieve anxiety and worry is by sneaking away and lying under your weighted blanket. Whether it’s the type of anxiety that turns your stomach into knots or the kind that makes your thoughts run a mile a minute, the Deep Touch Pressure from a weighted blanket can soothe your bad feelings in no time.
The science is simple: the pressure on your body leads to an increase in serotonin, our happy hormone, and a decrease in cortisol, our stress hormone. When we’re feeling extra-worried and the complete opposite of calm, cortisol is likely pumping through the body at higher-than-normal amounts. When we decrease cortisol and increase serotonin, anxiety melts away - you may even forget what you were worried about in the first place!
The key part about using a weighted blanket for worry, stress, and general anxiety reduction is to make sure the weight is evenly distributed across your body. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Our Nappers are made with weighted yarn that naturally drapes across the body and completely cocoons every inch, triggering all the right pressure points.
Other weighted blankets are lined with fillers–usually plastic beads or weighted pellets–that shift around as we sleep, which means you’re never getting the even-pressure you need to maximize the benefits of sleeping under weight. So do yourself (and your anxiety) a favor, and wrap yourself in the weighted yarn of a Bearaby.
Put Pressure On Yourself (The Good Kind)
Other than weighted blankets, you can also apply some self-pressure. If you’re at work (and don’t have a spare weighted blanket laying around), try using acupressure (no not acupuncture, that requires a professional!) to calm yourself down. Acupressure is simply using your fingers, palms, or even a special device to apply pressure to key points along your body. There are certain points that can relieve stress if pushed down upon, like the spot directly between your eyebrows.
Other pressure points include the upper area of your ear, your shoulders (massages relax you for a reason!), and the webbing between your thumb and index finger. At all of these points, you can either press down firmly or move in a circular motion while you press. And if you can head out and get a deep tissue massage, even better!
Move Your Body
Exercising has been long-proven to show benefits to our physical health. But, did you know the research on mental health is just as compelling? Both as a preventive measure and as a spot treatment for immediate anxiety relief, moving your body can help immediately.
Exercise (or really, any type of physical activity) produces endorphins — powerful chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. These chemicals also improve your ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Yoga, running, walking, hiking in nature, or whatever exercise your little heart desires can all work to release you from worry.
You could walk through the forest with the sunshine streaming through the trees while using your 4-7-8 breathing method for a triple threat of anxiety-crushing potential. Take a seat on a tree stump and journal it out for a few minutes; you’ll be a zen-master by the time you’re done.
7 Ways To Calm Yourself Down When You're Worried
If you’re feeling concerned rather than carefree more often than not, it may be wise to work on your calming techniques. Here are 7 quick and easy ways to calm yourself down.
Anxiety and worry can be day-ruiners, which is why we try to combat them every chance we get, with deep belly breathing and the power of sunshine topping our lists.
Other ways to feel cool as a cucumber? Talk it out in therapy, walk it out with exercise, or write it out in journals.
Activating pressure points, whether with a weighted blanket or with self-acupressure, can boost your serotonin and reduce your stress hormones immediately. Ahhhh.
Did you know?
Acupressure (which differs from acupuncture in that it uses hands instead of needles) dates back to 2000 B.C. when ancient Chinese practitioners used these pressure points to restore energy balance in the body and improve health.