How to Calm Down
Dr Libby Weaver shares a few helpful tips for how to calm down
It doesn’t seem to matter if we have two things to do or 200, we can be in a pressing rush to do it all; yet for many of us it rarely feels like we are in control, or on top of any of it.
How to calm down? Small steps can result in large pay-offs when it comes to your sense of calm, happiness and wellbeing. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Address your caffeine consumption
Many people have become somewhat addicted to their daily caffeine fix. However, what is often not considered is the impact that excessive amounts of caffeine can have on our already stressed/amped-up nervous systems. Caffeine drives the production of adrenalin, which is also why it makes many of us initially feel alert and energised. The flip-side is that often it can lead to anxious feelings and further perpetuate the stress we are already encountering. Green tea is a wonderfully uplifting beverage to consume, in place of coffee or to help you reduce your caffeine consumption.
2. Take a nap
It’s as if too many people have become too “proud” to take naps. In fact, they are absolutely invigorating and need to be encouraged. Instead of reaching for another coffee or tea, recharge your batteries properly. Taking a 15-minute nap ?is a great way to reset your nervous system and wake up feeling energised. While this may not be practical at work, it’s a wonderful thing to do on the weekend. Research into populations who live well and live long has shown that the one thing they all have in common is that they regularly nap!
3. Create a tech-free zone in your home for one day a week
It is hard to imagine a world without the sounds of cellphones and emails — but it is possible. Take a break from technology once a week (preferably on the weekend), and feel your nervous system start to calm: it can happen almost immediately. Allow yourself the time to just be. Schedule this at least once a week, and become stricter with yourself around the use of your phone, laptop or tablet in the evening.
3. Re-evaluate your to-do list and schedule tasks instead
How many of the items on your to-do list need to be done by you? How many can be done by a colleague, family member or friend? How many of them need to be done at all? How many of them need to be done now? One of the ways we can create more calm in our lives on a daily basis is to re-evaluate our workload, prioritise and schedule.
4. Learn how to say no (gently)
If this feels really uncomfortable for you, make a list of what energises you and what drains you. If the “drains me” list ?is longer, start by cutting back on one of those activities or obligations. If that’s not possible, whenever possible seek help, from a friend, loved one or colleague. You show strength, courage and honesty when you can ask for help.
5. Put your legs up the wall
A great way to help you breathe diaphragmatically is to lie on your back with your legs up the wall. Lie in this position for 5-10 minutes and focus on your breath. Place a folded towel under your back or bottom for support if you like. Take 10 minutes ?to fully relax into this pose; it’s especially delicious with some soothing music. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to activate the part of the nervous system responsible for eliciting calm feelings.
6. Creating calm through movement
When you have a one-way ticket on the stress express, it’s not uncommon to be drawn to high-intensity exercise in an effort to “sweat it out”. While that most definitely works for some people, it might not work for you, plus, in the long term, high-intensity exercise can drive processes inside of us that drive oxidation and inflammation; essentially, the way we age from ?the inside out. When you have been in a constant state of stress, you tend to neglect or even avoid calming activities. Consider enrolling in a meditation course and committing to do so with ?a friend, or go to a restorative yoga class. Incorporate a breath-focused practice in your life, whether that is mediation, yoga, t’ai chi, pilates or even just 10-15 minutes every day where you focus on slow belly-breathing.
7. Listen to your body
If you feel like cancelling plans, snuggling up on the couch and reading a book, do it — and enjoy it! Far too often we ignore our own intuition about what we need in each moment; instead, we feel obligated to carry through on our original plans. Make a conscious effort to tune into and act on this: you will feel so much better for it.
• An edited extract from Women’s Wellness Wisdom.
You can see Dr Libby speak live at the Power Stage at the BePure Live Well Festival, October 15 & 16 2016 at the Cloud in Auckland. These seminars are free for everyone with a GA Ticket. The BePure Live Well Festival is New Zealand’s premier wellness and lifestyle event, with over 60 exhibitors, seminars from health and wellness experts, fitness classes, meditation and massage. For more information and to purchase tickets visit livewellfestival.co.nz.