7 tools for calm

Aug 28 • Ilona Nurmela • Comments: 0
Have you ever felt your blood starting to boil at the negotiation table when someone is issuing unreasonable demands or yelling or just being…ummm…unpleasant? How do you calm yourself down instantly? How do you calm yourself down before a presentation, before giving a speech, before an important interview or appearing in court?
Besides imagining everyone in the room being naked, there are other tools for calm, tools to calm anxiety and even tools to reduce stress. We’re not going to get into a debate why a certain level of anxiety and stress are good for you and what lessons we can learn from them.

1. Ego-shredding exercise. My favourite is Gaby Bernstein’s so-called ego-shredding breathing exercise, which gets your energy and confidence up as well as calms you down in 5 minutes and all you have to do is hold your hands above your head and breathe. See here for the Ego Eradicator exercise: https://gabbybernstein.com/a-meditation-to-bust-through-your-blocks/

2. Take a break. If doing the ego-shredder in the middle of a Board room presentation or negotiations might seem funny, just take a 5-minute break - for a cigarette, ego-shredder exercise, meditation or just to play your favourite happy music or get out of the room and possibly go outside for those 5 minutes.

3. Drink water and breathe slowly. If for some inexplicable reason no one wants to take a 5 minute break and visualising yourself at the beach or thinking of a happy childhood memory doesn’t work for you like it did for Harry Potter for the Patronus charm, try this breathing exercise - I promise, no one will even notice:

1) drink a glass of water;

2) make yourself as comfortable as possible:

3) Breathe in slowly with your abdomen on a count of 4;

4) Hold your breath for a count of 4;

5) Breathe out slowly through your nose on a count of 4;

6) Rest for a count of 4;

7) Repeat until you feel better.

You can actually feel your heart rate slowing down during this exercise. For the optimum result try this with a formula of 1-4-2-1 or with a multiplier by 2 (e.g. 4 breaths in, 16 to hold, 8 breaths out, 4 for rest).

4. Do something you really like. When you are just prepping for something important or really dreading going into work that you hate (well, besides the obvious suggestion to rethink your job and doing what instead makes you happier) - instead of distracting yourself with busywork, you can go for a walk or take a bath or listen to calming music or use calm self-talk (This too shall pass, I am safe right now, I can feel my heart rate gradually slowing down) or exercise even for a minute or spend time with your pet or laugh (find funny videos on Youtube) - find a positive action where you can direct your worry or anxiety.

5. Bend forward. Bending forward into a fetal position also counters stress and worry.

6. Download an app. For tech-savvy people that don’t like the whole new age breathing-calming-meditation mumbo-jumbo, there are also apparently apps for de-stressing, calming and anti-anxiety. There are even apps on iTunes that can stop panic attacks for USD 1.99 (called Calm Down Now). From free apps for iPhones and Androids, there is Relax Melodies, Breathe To Relax, etc. For the etc, see yourself here: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-anxiety-iphone-android-apps#promoSlide

7. Natural remedies. Of course, valerian roots and kava may also help - but you need to carry them around with you.

Next instalment will be on how to calm others down.

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