How to Compose Under Stress

Stress is just a part of life that comes and goes, but some people find it difficult to calm down in stressful situations. Here are seven ways to calm down based on evidence. Today’s blog is based on an article from the Medical News Today website as well as some help from one of our amazing LSCSW counselors who is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Robert Funcheon.

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
    Deep breathing is the most commonly recommended ways that healthcare professionals suggest to calm yourself down. According to the authors of a study done in 2017, diaphragmatic breathing can help you relax your body. During this time, one group of participants participated in diaphragmatic breathing, and the other group did not receive any treatments. At the end of the study, the group that practiced the breathing technique had lower cortisol levels (a hormone liked to stress) and better attention levels. This method involves pushing your stomach out while inhaling, and your chest should not expand during the breathing. This method should only be used while you are calm, so you know how to do it when you are anxious, stressed, or upset.
  2. Chew Gum
    Chewing gum while multitasking may help reduce stress and improve mental clarity. People who chew gum while stressed experienced improved mood, reduced stress at work, reduced anxiety, and reduced symptoms of depression.
  3. Write things down
    Negative feeling are often toxic if you fixate on them, but recording your thought could help you process negative emotions. Some people find that writing in a journal can be helpful, and some take notes on their phones. Most people will write a letter to the person they are upset with but without sending it. It can help clarify feelings and help you calm down.
  4. Listen To Music
    Some people feel that listening to music can help calm them down when they feel stressed. Music can also be an effective way to reduce a person’s psychological response to stress.
  5. Practice Yoga
    Yoga’s popularity is thanks to its health benefits for the person practicing it. Yoga can help those who need help reducing stress, lowering anxiety, improving depression symptoms, lowering chronic pain, enhance strength, improve flexibility, promote cardiovascular health, improve well-being and quality of life, and improve sleep pattern.
  6. Body Scan/”Wet Noodle”
    This is when you relax each tense muscle for 5 seconds and then tighten the tense muscle for 5 seconds. Start head-to-toe by relaxing the tense muscles for 5 seconds, tighten the tense muscles for 5 seconds, then relax. Alternate back and forth from toe-to-head as well.
  7. Pelvic Floor Relaxation
    For this technique, you need to sit in a chair with your spine resting on the back of the chair, feet flat on the floor.
    Lengthen the spine up towards the ceiling in a gentle, unforced manner.
    Have your arms resting on your lap with the hands gently touching your abdominal wall. Put your attention to your pelvic floor muscles which will be resting down towards the seat of the chair.
    As you breathe in, notice the tummy wall expanding into your hands almost like a balloon softly inflating, and then as the air leaves the lungs, the tummy softly falls.
    Stay with your focus on the gentle flow of the breath while allowing the muscles of the pelvic to soften, lower, and lengthen down towards the seat of the chair.

Original article:

Robert Funcheon resources: Self-Regulation Skills Taken from “The 10 Core Competencies of Trauma, Grief & Loss” workshop
By: Robert Rhoton, PsyD, LPC, D.A.A.E.T.S
Eric Gentry, PhD., LMHC

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