Summary: Returning back to a relaxed state is something we can choose to do at any moment.
There are many things that can be done for bringing oneself back to a state of calm. The following activities are just three examples. The author of the book Bouncing Back, Linda Graham, recently shared a simple exercise that can be done in about one minute.
1. Place one hand over the heart. She says doing so will begin to stimulate the release of oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the intimacy hormone. (She uses the words safety and trust, instead of intimacy.)
2. Breathe deeply and slowly and with a sense of the breath going into the heart.
3. Remember a time where you felt safe, or a person you have trusted or loved.
4. Be with the feeling associated with remembering the time or person for about 30 seconds.
Another exercise uses colors in your surroundings as reminders to breathe and feel a positive emotion like gratitude, love, interest, or serenity.
For example, if you chose red, every time you see someone wearing that color of clothing you can choose to breathe and feel a positive emotion. If you see cars the same color you have selected, having this calming reminder may reduce stress while driving in traffic. It seems that when we are caught up in stress it is frequently related to our thoughts about a situation, more than the situation itself.
Counting Five Breaths
This next exercise is from Dr. Andre Weil:
1. Breathe easily and deeply a few times.
2. Continue doing this and count 'One' on the exhale.
3. Continue breathing and counting on each exhale up to five.
4. After five breaths, start again with one on the exhale.
5. Count five breaths over and over until you have done so for about ten minutes.
Linda Graham also says researchers have found that having a sense of being competent at doing anything helps people to do a new thing they may have uncertainty about. In other words, there is some carryover effect. So being aware of your own competence can help reduce stress, fear and anxiety when you are facing new situations.