We need calming techniques to get us through life without being buried in our anxiety.
Life isn’t easy – mine isn’t and I bet yours is the same. We’re working, caring for a family, and just trying to do our best. Of course, life is going to throw us curveballs.
Homes need repairs, cars need maintenance, and computers are slow the minute you put a file on it.
And people, well, we’re imperfect. We all have bad days, and sometimes that slows us down, while others are in a hurry. We get tired, frustrated, and stressed.
Stress is part of life, but when anxiety sets up shop and stick around for a while, you need a plan to calm your emotions.
That’s where calming techniques come into play! Calming techniques help counteract the body’s response to stress naturally.
So if you’re stressed and desire medication free techniques to relieve anxiety, you are in the right place!
Not only are these methods great for everyday anxiety, but help with PTSD as well. -I use them all for mine!- Whether you use one calming method, a few, or all 8 of them; add a few notes to your self care kit for those anxious days.
Let’s discuss, shall we?!
Why Should I Use Calming Techniques?
We all need calming techniques. Stress is part of life. But chronic stress is bad for your body.
Chronic stress can cause physical ailments like migraines, body pain, stomach issues, and illness. Not to mention it causes anxiety, depression, panic attacks, sleeping problems like insomnia, and other mental disorders.
In short, living your life full of anxiety will make you sick: physically and mentally. Calming techniques are a great way to reduce stress and get your body back to a restful state.
Tips to Remember Before Using Calming Techniques:
Have a Conversation
Sometimes we need support to get through our darkest days.
Whether you need someone to talk to or just a quiet place to study, having a support system can help you reduce stress.
Talk to loved ones about your needs so in times of stress you know who can help you with your calming techniques.
I keep a copy of this Support System Worksheet in my self care kit (and my phone) so when I am overwhelmed and anxious, I already know who I have talked to and can call for help.
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Involve A Doctor or Therapist
Your doctor or therapist isn’t just someone you get meds from or spill your secrets to. They are a valuable resource for helping you learn coping skills and calming techniques!
–I recently needed an antidepressant change, and we made a plan together. Including my doctor in my self care plan helped him determine what medication would help me avoid symptoms and side effects that are preventing me from reaching my goals.-
My therapist is helping me expand my calming techniques so I fight nighttime PTSD anxiety woes.
Medical professionals want to help you reach your goals. Doctors and therapists LOVE when they can get the whole picture! It makes their job easier. And you are the one that benefits from it! Including them in your plan to combat your anxiety helps them make a long term plan to help you.
Remember, No One Suffers the Same
No two people are alike. We don’t have the same cold. We don’t feel emotions the same. And our anxiety is not the same either.
What works for you, may not work for me. And vica versa.
If you are helping someone with their anxiety, please respect the boundaries of the person you are helping.
Ask questions, be kind, and let the person with the anxiety call the shots. We all have different needs.
Prep Before Anxiety Occurs
If you have ever watched heist movies, you know that a well made plan is the best made plan. –I love a good crime drama!-
I keep a self kit in my bedside table for nighttime anxiety (my anxiety is night related mostly).
Preparing before you are anxious helps keep different stressors at bay: unpreparedness. Ever have that dream where you forgot to wear your pants to school? Or had to give a presentation with no notice? Yeah, that’s the stuff of nightmares. So keep your self care kit stocked, print or keep your notes in a journal or notebook, and put it all in a pretty box where it’s ready to help you.
Have those conversations with friends and loved ones. Tell them what you need when you are stressed and overwhelmed. Do you need space? Is touching off limits? Do you need less noise or more noise?
-My husband likes to hug me when I am overwhelmed, but my body can’t take it. My skin is painful to the touch. By having a conversation with him, we made a plan together of how he can help me feel relaxed faster.- Updating your loved ones to your needs helps them reduce your stress without adding to it.
Or if you aren’t quite ready to share your thoughts, write them down for yourself and put them away in your self care kit. It will be your little checklist for later.
If you need to order materials, do so. I know I run out of essential oil frequently, so that’s on my permanent to buy list. –I’ll be referencing a few products I use for these calming techniques in this list for you I keep in my self care kit.–
By being prepared, you can start the soothing without trying to problem solve. I know I don’t like that panic when things do not go as planned. Do you? Prepping to use these calming techniques will help you have one less stress.
Calming Techniques for Anxiety & PTSD
I absolutely love journaling! It is my go to for anxiety. Journaling is not just for 8 year old girls. It’s my favorite of the calming techniques.
It’s for racing minds. It will help you brain dump at night so you can get a restful sleep.
It can chart your moods so you can give your doctor or therapist an accurate picture of your emotions.
It’s jotting down your ideas that you do not want to forget.
It’s an inspiration to achieve your hopes and dreams.
And it is getting those emotions out of your mind and heart.
–During my first few years of therapy, I experienced a profound exercise that I still use today. I brought in my traumas on paper and we discussed the weight I had been carrying around by keeping them in. They were my emotional baggage. Then she gave me a waste basket. She told me to take those emotions I had been holding back and destroy the pages. Yes, that was my story, my pain. But I no longer had to carry it. As I ripped up the papers into the smallest of pieces, I cried. It felt amazing not to have that weight in my heart anymore. It was the first time I had really let it out, and wasn’t the last time I have committed my anxieties to paper just to tear or burn it. –
Golding Giant Noteboook: Watercolor Cover
I love this journal! It has 600 pages, much more than your normal journal or notebook!! And has a table of contents too. It is easy to use, and is a nice 7×9 (not super small or too large). Add some tabs and not only do you have a journal for your anxiety, but you have sections for your therapy/dr notes, dreams and goals, these calming techniques, and more!!
Getting it out of your mind and heart helps take the anxiety and pain away. That paper is a physical representation that no one has to see or hear, unless YOU choose. Writing it out puts you in control of your anxiety and allows you go to at your own pace. It’s extremely cathartic. Think of it as spring cleaning for your mind! Purge and make way for those happier emotions and memories!
Still not convinced journaling is right for you? Read Journaling 13 Huge Reasons You Need to.
Sensory Deprivation Combined With Deep Pressure Therapy
If you have ever heard of a sensory deprivation chamber, then you know they help with overwhelm. Limiting your senses helps your nervous system relax.
But you don’t have to book an expensive appointment to use this calming technique. You just need a few simple calming technique tools: vanilla or lavender essential oil, an essential oil diffuser, an eye mask, noise reduction earplugs, and a 20-25 lb weighted blanket.
Click the image to buy at Amazon!
Do you have everything you need? Good! Let’s begin the most relaxing of the calming techniques.
This calming technique limits the senses so they can relax. And you have probably already used or seen it before. Ever swaddled an infant? We’re doing it adult size.
HERE IS HOW TO USE THESE CALMING TECHNIQUES:
Add water and your choice of essential oil to the diffuser. I like vanilla because it is a relaxing scent but also reminds me of happy memories of baking with my mom. –Also, who doesn’t want the smell of baked good surrounding them?- Allow the diffuser to run for 15 minutes in your bedroom.
During this time, you will draw your curtains and, if needed, tell friends or family you are taking some me time. You may lock your bedroom door if you like. Grab some comfy clothes and prepare to take some “me time”.
Put in the noise canceling earplugs, put on your eye mask, and snuggle up under the weighted blanket.
It is perfectly normal to feel a little tense at first. When you take away your sight, hearing, and suppress touch, your brain can become confused. It will pass, but if it’s too uncomfortable for you, please stop.
The weight of the blanket combined with the absence of light and sound will help your brain use smell (which we have made a relaxing scent). You will feel safe, maybe even happy. And maybe sleepy. That is normal.
Stay in your little bubble as long as you need to feel relaxed. You can sleep like this and be fine. I do it frequently.
This is one of my favorite calming techniques for PTSD episodes and panic attacks. It helps the nervous system relax and helps you recenter yourself.
If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself or just want an hour of “me time”, go get a Deep Pressure massage and ask them if you can add an aromatherapy to it. This type of massage, along with the aromatherapy, is using these same calming techniques.
Redirect Yourself In Your Hobbies
Anxiety causes restlessness, irritability, and frustration. Today, no matter how hard I tried to buckle down and focus, I felt restless. I couldn’t carry on a productive conversation. I stared at my computer screen trying to get the executive part of my brain to write my thoughts, and I could not be still in my chair. I was anxious and frustrated.
So I turned to an old favorite of mine: painting furniture. And my whole body and mind changed so fast. I put on my favorite music and sang for hours on my patio as I lovingly applied white paint to my patio table. This go to calming technique of mine helped my anxiety to be channeled into a constructive project. Not only did I get a patio table painted, but I also got 2/3 of my total painting project done!
You can see my project on my Instagram.
Just a few hours earlier, I was unfocused and restless with anxiety. And after I was calm and happy.
Use your favorite hobbies to your advantage. They are excellent calming techniques. You were drawn to your favorite hobbies for a reason. Use them to help calm your anxiety.
Don’t have a favorite anxiety reducing hobby? Try out one of mine in the article linked below.
I will not lie, I am not a mediation girl. My ADHD makes it too difficult for me to calm my mind and get the full benefits from it. But I have found three other ways to work around an active or anxious mind and use this calming technique. Learning to steady your breathing helps release the tension that anxiety produces.
3 Breathing Calming Techniques
1- Visualize a candle or balloon when breathing. This is my go to method for learning to relax my mind and body at night. This calming technique involves visualizing an object affected by your breath. For me, I like to visualize a red balloon or a lit candle. When I breathe in, the candle flame is strong. And the balloon gets smaller (just like in real life). And when I breathe out into the object, it reacts. The balloon expands and grows larger, while the candle flame flickers and moves. The long breaths I take to inflate and deflate the balloon help me slow my breathing, and the mental picture keeps my ADHD brain from singing the hits from the 90s instead.
2- Match the breathing of a calm, deep breather. When my PTSD is high, I lay on my husband’s chest and work on matching his breathing. It is a double bonus calming technique because I am also listening to his soothing heartbeat. His steady blow breathe helps me match a calm breathing pace.
3- Singing to help breath control. Have you ever tried to sing while hyperventilating? It’s hard. But by singing through your panic, you will start seeing a change in your breathing pattern. I don’t recommend rapping, just because you want to elongate your breath. I like to sing ballads as the pace of the song is slower and the notes are more drawn. Meaning you need to exhale and inhale deeper to get the full tone in the notes. So next time you are anxious, put on your favorite music and sing through it. It typically takes me 1-2 songs to achieve a normal breathing pattern again.
Spend Time With Your Pets
It’s a fact of science and biology that pets are good for us. Not only are there physical benefits, but emotional ones as well.
Pets help reduce our BP and heart rate, help us get exercise, and can help with ease loneliness.
Cats try to heal us by purring on us when we are unwell, physically and emotionally.
And dogs can help reduce anxiety, depression, and help us by becoming Service Dogs.
Both cats and dogs are excellent at helping you with deep pressure therapy. Cat and dogs love to lie with us, or on us, and share our space. And it mellows you. Tension just melts when a pet lets out that happy breath by you. That pressure from them laying on you helps relax your nervous system. So snuggle up with your fur babies and enjoy them.
Use Comedy to Help Calm Your Emotions
This is one of the easiest calming techniques I have come across, and I am ashamed to say that I only discovered it in the last few months!
If you have seen ”Steel Magnolias”, you remember the line about laughter through tears. The same goes for laughter through fear/anxiety.
When my anxiety is keeping me awake at night, and the thoughts are paralyzing me. I get up, turn on my living room tv, and watch old comedy shows. ”I Love Lucy” is my go to. Within the hour, I am happy, relaxed, and able to go to bed without anxiety keeping me awake.
Laughing creates endorphins, according to Mayo Clinic. Those endorphins give you a calm feeling.
So watching a quick comedy will help you feel better!
Restlessness often accompanies anxiety. And what better way to get rid of the nervous energy than to exercise?
Exercise produces endorphins, just like laughing. After your workout, you will feel more relaxed and happy.
So no matter how you move, you will start producing those oh so happy hormones that battle anxiety and kick it to the curb.
Get Away Temporarily
Sometimes your stress surrounds you. –Ever live in D.C. during election years? YIKES!-
Getting away, even if only for a day, can help you reduce your anxiety enough to problem solve it.
I take one self care vacation a year to help recenter myself. A quick trip helps clear the mind and gives your body a chance to rest and release the tension that anxiety causes.
Whether it’s a quick trip to the beach, a day skiing, a shopping trip with a loved one, a game night, or a day of roller coasters and bunging jumping; your self care vacation is a trip away from your stressors. This calming technique will help you come back to your life refreshed.
Calming techniques will help you combat your anxiety, distract you so you can function, help boost your happy brain chemicals, or help you make a plan. Including calming techniques in your self care plan is essential to improving your mental health!
QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CALMING TECHNIQUES AND HOW DO YOU USE IT?
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