We all have felt stress before, or have times when we wish we knew how to calm down! No matter how confident and relaxed you are, you know what it’s like to be nervous before an interview, trembling before you are about to give speech, or cold and clammy when you’re about to pick up your date. Nearly everyone feels nervous over some issues, yet many never seek knowledge to learn how to calm down properly. Life is too short to go through it drowning in your anxiety. Learn how to calm yourself down!

The point of this article is to provide you with five different ways to release your tension and calm yourself. Hardly anyone will actually notice that you are using them. My ways will not have you sitting in a meditation position on the floor, or chanting mantras to yourself to relax, so no worries. When you calm yourself these ways, your will not detach yourself from your environment, but instead integrate yourself in unison to it while you mentally move inward to obtain steadiness. You should not feel tired or detached. You should simply become “in the zone” as you calm down - Alert, focused and relaxed; your nerves at ease.

1. Reframe

So, something has you stressed out. First, ask yourself: Does it really matter? Are you feeling nervous over trivial issues? Most of the time, probably. It is incredible to watch the ways in which the general populace react and lose composure over the smallest sources of stress. Go to the supermarket – watch a couple argue over which bread to buy. Watch a mother scream at her child for pulling a box of cereal off the rack. You may think “Jeez… calm down!” In her mind though, such an issue is apparently losing her calm over. Watch someone throw a tantrum in the checkout line because an item is 10 cents more than it was labeled as. Are any of those things worth losing your calm and freaking out about? I would say no. Everyone can work toward remaining calm during such trivial events. Some things are no-brainers (such as the supermarket examples). However, when you find or define yourself and purpose in Life, you will find that literally nothing except those things which pertain to your missions are worth becoming stressed about. I speak from experience: the only times in the last year which I have felt stress are when things which pertain directly to my purposes in life have been threatened.

Aside from those ways, nearly anything can go wrong and yet I remain 100% calm. Why? Because unless it affects my ability to live out my purpose in life, it does not affect my reality! In addition to asking yourself “does it really matter”, another solid reframing technique to calm yourself down is to take step back. See yourself in the third person. Move farther away and see your World and your place among humanity. Step back, further and further. See your life. Move farther away and see the universe and all of creation. Realize your trivial daily stress is absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of existence (or your life, for that matter)!

2. Write it Out

Many are able to calm down and find relief from stress by telling someone close about their worries. If someone is not available to listen and help them calm down, a journal works great. Keeping a journal has been proven to help reduce stress. Make a commitment to yourself that you will keep one for a month – you may begin to find yourself needing to calm yourself down during your day less and less! When keeping your journal, make your accounts as vivid as possible. The more descriptive your writing is, the less your mind will need to hang onto the recorded events. Another way to calm yourself is slightly shorter and sweeter. Carry a notepad and pen. If something in your day is causing you to lose your calm, write it out clearly on the paper, describing it in detail. Writing it out will help put it into perspective and force you to think about the root cause. Next, rip it into little, itty-bitty pieces and throw in the trash or toilet. Disposing of it is symbolic of ridding yourself of the stress and beginning to calm yourself. Remind yourself where you sent it in the event that you loose your calm over it in the future.

3. Identify

Identify the true cause of the stress. Ask yourself: what is that is really preventing you from being calm? Is it the current situation, or something else in the back of your mind? Is the guy in traffic really pissing you off? Or, is the fact that you fought with your spouse before you left for work? In order to remove stress from your Life, you must be able to properly identify its cause. Problems may only be solved by addressing the root cause, not containing the effects. As a statistical problem solver for General Motors, I came to realize this: containments and fixes for a problem are inferior in effectiveness compared to addressing the root cause. You can contain a stress problem for years via using different ways to calm yourself down, but until you address the root cause, the stress will continue indefinitely. If you are having trouble remaining calm, work down the ladder to identify the root cause. Address that, and you will find much of your stress is merely effects of the root cause.

4. “Mow”

I was blessed to have been raised by a father with an incredible work ethic. I have prided myself in my die-hard ability to work a 100 hour week once or twice a year during a product launch. My father, however, works 80-90 hours every single week. How does he calm himself down after work and remain stress-free? He “mows.” Literally, he mows the lawn. He often stated how everyone must have their own “mowing” to engage in; lest they work themselves to death. After a long day, he would often mow the lawn and unwind in the process before going to bed; at which time he would be completely calm. It still provided him a sense of accomplishment and took care of something which needed to be done, yet at the same time provided a way to calm down. Everyone must find a “mowing” activity which they enjoy and commit themselves to engage in it when they are going through periods of stress. Be it dancing, drawing, playing the violin, punching a heavy bag or gardening; any form of “mowing” is essential to reducing stress and serving as a real way to calm down.

5. Plan

Did you just find out you’re going to be expelled from your school? Did you just receive your two-week notice at work? Did you just find out your daughter totaled her car yesterday? You’re probably freaking out. Freak out no more. Now is the time to remain calm. Making a plan in stressful circumstances is key to getting your ass out in one piece. If you are driving down the road when something bad happens and you throw your arms up in the air, screaming, what happens to your car? If you are driving through Life and something bad happens, do not throw your arms up in the air and scream! Your Life will go in the ditch! Hold onto the wheel. Figure out how you will escape!

I am extremely emotionally intelligent person. Thus, at any time I am usually experiencing some sort of complicated (yet positive) emotion. However, when something uncertain or threatening presents itself in my life, I usually become much less emotional than I am typically. It is due to my realization that in order to escape any circumstance, I must remain cool-headed. I must see the situation in its proper lighting, devise an escape or damage control plan and execute it ASAP. Emotions may be used to fuel the execution of the plan, but not the conception of it. When you need to calm down after receiving shocking news, force yourself to go into objective, cool-headed, scientific planning mode and you increase your odds of succeeding one hundred fold.

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Lee Ridenour
Founder & CEO