Under stress, it is difficult to act rationally and think through every step. To reduce the risk of bad decisions, scientists and psychologists usually advise to pause. But sometimes it's not easy: emotions are so overwhelming. Here are a few simple actions to help switch your body into a calmer mode and think things through with a cool head.
🥶 Wash your face with ice water.
Better yet, hold your breath and dip your face in cold water for 5-10 seconds. This procedure activates the parasympathetic nervous system - switches the body into relaxation mode in a matter of minutes.
Also under the influence of cold water in the body increases the level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and enhancing positive emotions
This method is recommended for students before a difficult exam. Research has shown that chewing gum reduces stress and increases stress tolerance.
The physiological mechanism is unclear. But apparently it's the chewing process itself. There is evidence that it increases the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for the logical processing of emotions and the regulation of behavior
🥊 Crush and shout in safe mode
Tear up paper or a bag. Stomp your feet. Yell into a pillow. Smash an ice cube against the sink. Squeeze an empty plastic bottle as hard as you can.
Scientists call this the physical replacement method. It allows you to transfer strong negative emotions - anger, resentment, anxiety - into physical action. And so safely dispose of the excess cortisol and norepinephrine that trigger the stress response
🧮 Count slowly from 100 to 1.
Counting back is a difficult task that requires concentration. To perform it, the brain activates the already mentioned prefrontal cortex. As a result, anxiety and stress are reduced.
If you combine counting backwards with slow walking, the calming effect will be stronger
👂 Use the "5-4-3-2-1" technique.
Look around and mentally list five things you see. Then name four physical sensations that you have right now. Next, three sounds you hear. Finally, think of two smells and a distinct taste you've ever felt.
This exercise is especially effective for derealization, when severe stress makes everything around you seem fake. It helps to bring back a sense of reality and calm down a bit
🧘♀️ Scan your body.
The exercise can be done in any position. With your eyes closed, concentrate on the physical sensations at the top of your head. Move your focus to your face. Find tense muscles - relax them. Then go to the shoulders, neck - and so on to the feet.
The technique helps get rid of anxiety, forcing the brain to focus on the present. Its effectiveness has already shown many studies. It is now one of the most popular exercises for dealing with stress
🥣 Wash the dishes
The main condition is to do it consciously. That is, fully concentrating on your actions and feelings during the process. Pay attention to the way the water envelops your hands, how the cleaning agent foam rustles and how the plates shine. According to measurements by scientists in Florida, this action helps reduce nervousness by almost a third.
If there's nothing to clean, vacuum or dust. This, too, will calm your nerves through rhythmic action
🧩 Solve a puzzle.
This will force the brain to distract itself from anxious thoughts, the main catalyst for stress. And when the brain manages to find the solution, it will increase the production of dopamine. This will cause a sense of satisfaction and a little encouragement.
It is important that the task is not too difficult. If you fail to solve it, it will only increase your stress. If you can't figure out which task you can do, put together a puzzle. It's a calming activity.