We've all got a temper in us somewhere. Anyone who says otherwise is just lying (to themselves). Yet I'm gonna be real with y'all — there are two of my friends (who happen to both be Leos…hmm) who can go from zero to a thousand in under a minute sometimes. When I asked them what gets them so heated, they both said that they tend to suppress for a while and then, once they've had enough, they just…SNAP.
One day, we'll get into how and why internalizing one's emotions isn't really the best thing to do (for a myriad of reasons). For now, I just thought it would be a good idea to offer up some helpful hacks, if you happen to also be someone who can pop off, kinda with the quickness, yet you know you need to find some proven ways to calm yourself down — for the sake of all parties involved.
1. Do Some Square Breathing
I don't care if it's your boss, your spouse, or your child, if someone has you so triggered that you feel like you're absolutely about to lose it, you can never go wrong by utilizing a technique known as square breathing (another name for it is box breathing). Many health professionals consider it to be a very powerful way to release internalized stress so that you can calm down faster. The steps are pretty simple:
- First — while sitting fully upright, slowly exhale through your mouth.
- Next — slowly and deeply inhale through your nose for a count of four, counting also slowly and making sure to fill your lungs with air.
- Third — hold your breath for a count of four.
- Fourth — slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four.
- Finally — deeply inhale for a count of four. Rinse and repeat. Three times, if possible.
Why is this is such an effective way to calm yourself down? Because this type of breathing exercise helps to lower your blood pressure, soothe your nervous system, and help your mind and body to feel more relaxed overall. Shoot, at the very least, it certainly couldn't hurt to give it a shot. Right?
2. Listen to Some Binaural Beats
Something that I personally find to be pretty cool is binaural beats. It's kind of a long story but the short of it is if you listen to two tones that are each at a different frequency, your brain will create a third one all on its own. And why is that beneficial? Well, word on the street is hearing that third tone can put your brain into the same state as meditation would/does. As a direct result, it can help to reduce anxiety, make you feel more relaxed, and put you into a more positive mental state. If this is something that you would like to test out for yourself, YouTube has a slew of videos that feature them. Just go to the site and put "binaural beats" in the search field.
3. Eat Some Berries or Kiwi
A delicious approach to calming yourself down is to snack on some raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, and/or some kiwi. As far as berries go, they are packed with Vitamin C which is able to combat stress, along with zinc, which can lower feelings of anxiety and depression. Kiwi is cool because there are studies that cite that eating two of them, on a daily basis, can fight depression-related symptoms and put you into a better mood.
4. Put on Some Patchouli
When I first learned that patchouli essential oil had a calming effect, I was thrilled because I really like the sweet musky scent that it has. Because the properties in it have such a good reputation for providing a relaxing feel, if you do feel like you're about to go ham, try putting some on your thumb and index finger and then pushing slightly (for about 10 seconds or so) on the top of your ears, in between your index finger and thumb on your other hand or right in between your shoulder blades.
All three of these areas are pressure points that help to reduce stress. That way, along with the aromatherapy that patchouli provides, the combo should be able to get you right.
5. Go for a Walk. Outdoors.
There are a billion reasons why consistent exercise is good for you. One of them is the fact that when you get your heart pumping, it helps to release endorphins. This is a great thing because they are natural hormones that are secreted through your brain and nervous system that help to literally reduce stress, calm depression-related symptoms, and even boost your self-esteem. As an added bonus, the sun is full of Vitamin D and since it's a nutrient that also relieves depression and anxiety, you simply can't go wrong with taking a brisk walk or light jog outdoors.
6. Repeat a Favorite Quote (on Being Calm)
There is power in words. There's no debating that. That's why, another cool calm down hack is to verbally recite a quote on being calm, the moment you feel like you are anything but. The reason why you should say "it" out loud is that it can help to "drown out" your emotions so that you feel more empowered in your sense of calm. As a result, it will be easier for you to respond rather than react — if you need to say or do anything at all. One that I really like is, "Being still does not mean 'don't move.' It means 'move in peace.'" An author by the name of E'yen A. Gardner once said that.
7. Hold a Hand. Get a Hug.
While it might be your natural inclination to "pull into yourself" when you are upset or frustrated, that's actually a good time to hold someone else's hand or ask for a hug. Something that hugs are proven to do is lower your cortisol levels which is your natural stress hormone. Also, physical affection can trigger oxytocin in your system which will make you feel more loving and less angry.
Actually, I wanted to advise having a quickie in moments like these as the subject title for this particular tip because it's hard to stay angry while you're having sex; but if you can't make that happen, a hand or a hug will work (almost) just as well.
8. Take a Nap
Listen, something that I will absolutely do with the quickness is take me a nap. If you're able to get in a 20-minute power one, not only can it strengthen your immunity, boost your energy levels and improve your productivity, taking a moment to get "off of the grid" of whatever has you so fired up can result in you waking up to, at least a slightly different perspective, so that you can approach the matter more from logic than emotion — which is always a good thing. (By the way, if you don't have time to nap, meditating for 5-10 minutes is a great alternative. Check out "7 Meditation Hacks (For People Who Can't Seem To Do It)".)
9. Color. Scribble. Write.
If you don't already own an adult coloring book, treat yourself and get one (there's a link to some African ones here. There's an article about another Black female-owned line of some here). While coloring is typically seen as a child's activity, the reality is it has a way of calming your nervous system and even inspiring you to do some problem-solving (much in the way that playing video games do, believe it or not). Scribbling? I mean, have you ever pulled out a tablet and pen and just scribbled with all of the strength that you have? There is something very surprisingly rewarding about it. As far as writing/journaling goes, writing down your feelings is a way of validating your emotions and sometimes bringing clarity to all that's going on. Plus, journaling can help to boost your immune system and brainpower in the process. So, definitely pull out some paper if you're going from 0-10 with the quickness.
Relax. Relate. Release. One of the best ways to do all of this is to disconnect from the noise and just get quiet for a moment. By "noise," I mean anything that taps you into a lot of chatter, along with the people who are around you (including those who are just a phone call away). Based on where you (physically) are, you might only be able to do this for five minutes or so but if you go somewhere that is dead silent (like your car) or even if you listen to some ASMR videos of rain, waves or the wind (YouTube has a lot of those as well), it can help you to gain your bearings so that you can function from a place of peace rather than intense stress — which is beneficial on every level. Every time.
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