How to Relax in Stressful Situations

3 methods to calm yourself down

You might not be able to avoid every source of stress in your life, but by learning how to relax in stressful situations, you can lessen the impact they have on your mental and physical well-being. Effective methods of relaxation range from breathing techniques to long-term strategies for a more generally relaxed state of mind. Equip yourself with some techniques for staying calm, and enjoy a more peaceful existence.

Relaxation in the moment

When you're in the middle of a stressful situation, whether it's an argument with your spouse, botched travel plans or an altercation with your boss, it's hard to step back and get perspective on what is happening. But in fact, taking a moment to simply take a breath and collect your thoughts can keep your mind from getting carried away with anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, simply pulling back and counting to 10 during stressful situations can help you stay more calm.

Breathing through stressful situations

Practicing deep breathing techniques can help you manage stressful situations in two ways. First, if you do them on a regular basis, they will contribute to an overall more relaxed mood. Second, once you become comfortable with breathing exercises, you can access them anytime, anywhere, making them a very portable stress-reduction method.

Try this technique, recommended by WebMD:

  • Sit comfortably, placing one hand on your abdomen below your ribs and the other over your heart.
  • Breathe deeply through your nose, expanding your belly so it pushes against your hand.
  • Purse your lips and breathe out, feeling the air as it escapes.
  • Use your hand to gently press all the air from your belly. Repeat three to 10 times.

To increase your focus on your breath, try counting the length of each inhale and exhale. Try to make your exhale last one or two seconds longer than your inhale.

Meditate for relaxation

Anyone can meditate, and there is no "right way." According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can help people move more calmly through their days, resulting in better emotional and, in some cases, even physical well-being. Meditation can help give you a new perspective on stressful events, build your stress management skills and let you focus on the present instead of dwelling on stressful memories or future concerns.

Types of meditation include mantra meditation, in which you repeat to yourself a peaceful word or phrase (such as "ohm," "one," or "breathe"); guided meditation, in which you picture relaxing images with the help of a meditation teacher or meditation CD; and mindfulness meditation, in which you simply inhabit the present moment by focusing on your breath and observing your thoughts passively as they enter your head. Yoga, t'ai chi and qigong are considered "moving meditations," and can also be beneficial when it comes to managing stress in your life.

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