There really is a day for everything. Take March 9 for example, which is Panic Day. We could celebrate by panicking, but I though instead that I would share with you some great ways to calm down. Whether you’re looking for simple ways to relax or tools to use if you’re prone to anxiety, here are some tips for keeping calm.
- Read a book. Whether you put your own troubles in perspective by reading about someone else’s, you read something that makes you laugh, or you read to learn, reading can be a great way to relax.
- Take a bath. I know that’s easier said than done with kids in the house, but shove all the bath toys out of the way and give it a try. If you’re looking to make your bath extra indulgent, may I suggest my favorite bath products: LUSH.
- Go for a walk. Whether it’s a long walk or a short one, getting some fresh air—and if you’re lucky some sunshine—can do a lot to change your frame of mind.
- Clean. Doesn’t sound like way to keep calm does it? But studies have shown that clutter causes anxiety, so tidying up can help you destress. And you’re perfectly content with your clutter? Feel free to ignore this advice.
- Go to the movies. Whether you find a friend, go with your partner, or go solo, get out of the house and immerse yourself in a movie for a couple of hours. Yeah, it’s cheaper to stream the latest film at home, but there’s nothing like getting lost in a movie on the big screen.
- Hug. Giving and getting hugs literally makes people feel physically better. One study found that 20 seconds is the optimal length for a hug—sometimes my daughter and I even count out loud when we hug to be silly!
- Wrap yourself up in a weighted blanket. Are you really feeling anxious? Try a weighted blanket. The pressure from the blanket is supposed to release calming chemicals in the brain and decrease stress hormones.
- Snuggle a pet. Are you a pet person? Pet your pet! It can be just as beneficial as a hug with a loved one.
- Listen to music. I don’t care if you’re into Mozart, 90s rap, 80s hair bands, showtunes (Hamilton FTW!), or The Prodigy, turn on whatever makes your heart happy and rock out.
- Exercise. I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling anxious, I tend to have a lot of nervous energy. Exercise can be a great place to direct it! Or if you find you can’t focus your thoughts, maybe some yoga can help you get back on a track.
- Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Method, or “grounding.” This is another great tip for someone who’s feeling more than just a little “not calm.” Here’s how it works: Look around you. Find five things you can see. Find four things you can touch. Find three things you can hear. Find two things you can smell. Find one thing you can taste. (I recommend keeping mints, gum, or emergency back-up chocolate in your bag. Don’t judge; it comes in handy when someone gets hangry, too.)
- Just breathe. It’s funny how easy it is to forget about this one. If you find it hard to focus on your breathing, you can try apps like the breathe bubble in Calm (the app is not free, but it’s my favorite tool) or a module like Breath and The Body from Smiling Mind (the app is free and has modules for kids, too!). Apple Watch also has a built-in Breathe app, at least from Series 2 on up.
- Make a list. If the fact that you’re not feeling calm is because you’re feeling overwhelmed, try making a list. It can look intimidating at first, but getting your to-dos out of your head to a place where you can see them and start handling them one at a time can help make them more manageable.
- Journal. If what’s stressing you out isn’t a to-do list type of thing, you can still write it down. Whether you put it in a journal or just write it down on a piece of paper that you can choose to save or recycle once you’ve gotten your thoughts out of your head, writing everything out can be helpful
- Treat yourself. I’m not talking mid-life crisis level treats, but go ahead and take yourself out to lunch, grab that coffee, buy a new lipstick, get something to make that bath more special, or treat yourself to the new album you’ve been wanting.
So, on National Panic Day, don’t panic. Instead, try one of these 15 tips for keeping calm. And share anything else that helps you in the comments!
(PS: For you Douglas Adams fans, my husband would kill me if I didn’t add this final tip: Number 16—Always carry a towel.)