As defined by Merriam-Webster, calm is a period or condition of quiet and free from disturbance.
Simply put, it is the absence of strong emotions and reaching an inner place that lessens the grip of anxiety, worry, excitement, and troubles. The state of being calm is often something we think is just a function of circumstance, but we can actually play a role in helping our minds and bodies get to and maintain a state of calm.
As I strive to achieve calm, every day, I’ve learned that this is a state that I can evoke when I find myself in stressful situations.
My go-to is to focus on, and, to take two or three deep breaths, get calm, then react to the situation.
I’d like to share some ways I embrace calm. So, I’ll start with my two favorites:
Taking deep breaths can bring about calm and aid in the management of negative thoughts and emotions. Research has shown that taking slow, deep breaths can lead to enhanced feelings of comfort and relaxation, while also reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and anger (Booth, 2020).
Diaphragmatic breathing specifically can be especially beneficial for bringing about a calming response, as it involves breathing where the belly expands in and out versus the chest rising up and down. This slows the heart rate and again brings the body to a place of calm where one is able to better ration and reason.
Meditation can be a huge asset in the pursuit of internal calm. Meditation is the practice of continuous deep focus on an object for a prolonged period of time.
Meditation can aid the mind in pivoting from a stressed and anxious response to a state of calm. A 2018 study found that even just one hour-long meditation session can significantly lower levels of anxiety and stress (Booth, 2020).
Research suggests that there are certain nutrients present within certain foods that can work to bring about feelings of calm and relaxation. Omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, and dark chocolate (in moderation) all possess nutrients that deal with the neurotransmitters in the brain and help to ease anxiety by releasing stress-relieving signals.
Exercise can be quite beneficial for promoting calm in the body. Evidence suggests that only 20 minutes of exercise can aid in the reduction of symptoms of anxiety. Physical activity encourages the body to release endorphins that boost mood and increase relaxation.
Additionally, exercise can protect people from developing some mental health conditions and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
There is also research to suggest that as the temperature of the body increases with exercise, the neural circuits responsible for controlling cognitive function and mood are altered, including those that impact the neurotransmitter serotonin. Similarly, this response is believed to be linked to stress reduction, mood-boosting, and enhanced relaxation.
Time spent outside can work wonders for promoting relaxation and inducing calm. Research suggests that getting some sun can increase the release of serotonin in your brain, which can improve your mood and leave you feeling more at peace.
A 2020 research review found that spending just 10 minutes outside can improve mood, amongst other physical benefits.
Write It Down
Journaling is a technique whereby you write down your anxious thoughts and feelings as they arise. Journaling allows for the release of anxious thoughts that can lead to enhanced levels of stress. This release of worrisome thoughts and feelings reduces feelings of anxiety and brings about relaxation and calm. A 2009 study of college students found that those who did expressive writing experienced less depression, stress, and anxiety after a period of two months as compared to a group of their peers who did not participate in the expressive writing.
Listen To Music
Music has long been linked to increased relaxation. A 2013 study showed that listening to music prior to a stressful situation can help the nervous system relax once the situation is over, helping to manage levels of stress and anxiety.
Music such as classical or soothing sounds like rainfall has particularly been shown to decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) and induce mental relaxation (Booth, 2020).
Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health. Self-care can include activities such as going for a walk, getting a massage, talking to a friend, or anything that you deem as beneficial for improving your health, which includes mental health. Self-care can be beneficial when it comes to anxiety because the act of caring for yourself can relieve stress and tension, effectively promoting calm.
Take A Long Bath
Research shows that just 10 minutes spent bathing in hot water can lead to better mental and emotional health. A 2010 study found that bathing regularly promoted calm and led to better sleep. Evidence suggests that warm water eases tension and aching muscles which promotes reduced anxiety and promotes both physical and mental calm.
Research has shown that chamomile is both relaxing and can significantly decrease anxiety as well as aid in the fight against depression. Research has shown that chamomile tea can function like a benzodiazepine which is a prescription drug that can reduce anxiety and induce sleep by binding to benzodiazepine receptors.
It may seem odd, but there is evidence to suggest that good posture can aid in bringing about a feeling of calm. Sitting upright can be linked to decreased depression, heightened energy levels, improved confidence, and enhanced calm. Good posture can also improve the ability to take deep breaths which can also contribute to feelings of calm.
Gratitude is the practice of finding those things in your life that you are thankful for. Whether big or small, the goal is to refocus attention away from stressful and anxious triggers and towards something more positive. This gives the mind a chance to calm down and decrease negative thoughts and emotions.
The act of closing your eyes alone can induce calm. Closing eyes can eliminate tension, relax muscles, and return the body to a state of calm. Adequate amounts of rest help to keep anxiety levels low and stress well managed by normalizing the brain’s anticipatory reactions and reducing overall anxiety levels.
Studies show a connection between scents and feelings of stress or calm. A 2015 study found that people who smelled plants reported reduced levels of stress and anxiety and enhanced levels of relaxation. A 2017 research review suggested that essential oils like lavender could also aid in the management of anxiety, improve sleep, and boost feelings of calm (Booth, 2020).
Muscle relaxation is a technique that can promote calm throughout the whole body. A practice called autogenic training involves sitting or lying in a comfortable position and letting muscles go totally limp. Another practice of gradually tensing various muscle groups and then releasing them can also be practiced. Research suggests that the tensing and relaxing muscle groups develop an awareness of bodies and tense areas, which helps induce a feeling of calm and relaxation.
Play With A Pet
Animals can be very therapeutic when trying to induce calm, hence the reason they are often used in treatments and therapy. Having a pet or regular play with animals can improve mood and reduce stress, leading to enhanced calm. A 2019 study showed that just 10 minutes of interactions with a pet led to a significant reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. While a study conducted in 2002 found that people with pets were better able to manage stressful situations.
Have a Laugh
Laughter has long been linked to reduced anxiety and an increase in positive feelings. In a 2017 study, researchers found that laughing regularly can lead to greater feelings of calm over time.
Adopt A Mantra
Mantras aid people in focusing on more logical thoughts and help us to move into a calmer headspace. A 2015 study showed that repeating a word or phrase to oneself works to quiet the part of the brain that leads the mind toward stress and anxiety.
Socialization is a strong tool for helping to induce calm. When we remain in community with family and friends, we have people in our lives who can help us stay grounded, refocus on more positive objects, and be present to support us when we find ourselves dealing with stress, anxiety, or other negative thoughts and feelings. The presence of others can help us to feel the support we need and help us feel more relaxed, joyful, and at ease.
Practicing relaxation techniques can help us to refocus our energy and attention to more positive things, while simultaneously decreasing our stress and anxiety levels.
When we engage in practices like breathing, yoga, or aromatherapy we can get a hold of anxious thoughts and bring ourselves back to a place of calm.
Now, take a deep breath and consider these brief life lessons to embrace peace and serenity!
“ “Breath is the power behind all things….
I breathe in and know that good things will happen.” ― Tao Porchon-Lynch
Meditation is a habit that may come easily to some. I have been meditating for over five years, but there were many days I found myself slipping. These days, not so much, not since I completed the no-cost Action Habits Challenge by Connie Ragen Green, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur. You can check it out here.
If you’re interested in revitalizing your life through meditation and would like to learn a virtually risk-free, and cost-effective practice, that people of all ages can do with a little patience and guidance and that will serve you for the rest of your life, I would love to connect with you. You can connect with me here.
I’m Donna SLam, who loves to blog about how meditation brings self-compassion, peace of mind, and clarity to my life and others by sharing tips and strategies on how to live a fulling and purposeful life. I enjoy championing others to lead a healthy and happy life through meditation, walking, self-development, and spending time with loved ones.Follow me on: