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Top 5 Ways to Find Calm During Extreme Stress

How to tap into this superpower to enhance your motivation and well-being.

Source: Erwan Letue/Unsplash
Calm is waiting for us if we make intentional efforts to seek it.
Source: Erwan Letue/Unsplash

Calmness is a human superpower—but one that each of us can tap into.

Superhero movies are more popular than ever, because all of us desire the ability to fight the bad guys and make the world a better place. It’s a way we can escape into fantasy, just for a moment, when there is unease and unrest.

The ability to manage your emotions effectiveness and maintain a sense of calm in stressful situations has a direct correlation to your ability to perform well at work. Prolonged stress, when unmanaged, can wreak havoc on mental and physical health, and over time can lead to a host of problems including higher risks for chronic illnesses, lack of life satisfaction, and higher incidences of depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Research has shown that moderate levels of stress and punctuated stress (that occurs for brief moments and then lessens or dissipates once the crisis is over) can be conducive to productivity and not harmful for our health, the problem is prolonged, unrelenting stress that goes on for many hours or even days. And that's why it's of utmost importance to be able to balance the stressors that come your way with the ability to self-regulate and achieve calmness at various points during the course of a day.

When we are able to tap into calmness, it can help curb impulsive decision-making, disengage hyperactive fight-or-flight responses, and allow us to feel less overwhelmed and more confident that we can handle the challenge that come our way.

⁣⁣It’s not easy to find calm during stressful times, but being able to retreat to this refuge is essential so that we can thrive emotionally and physically. ⁣⁣

So here are my top five ways to find calm during extremely stressful times. Try one or more of these today and watch your superpower grow. ⁣⁣

  1. Breathwork: Take a beat, close your eyes, and take 10 deep breaths, slowly and deliberately. Let the air fill up your lungs and with each exhale, breathe out your stress and worries.⁣
  2. Digital Break: Research shows that too much screen time (phone, TV, computer) can amplify stress, anxious feelings, and decrease happiness. You can reverse this by taking a digital break every day. Try one hour to start, perhaps during dinner or before bed. Get over your FOMO and do this—it works!
  3. Gratitude Card: At the beginning of the day, write down one thing you are grateful for on a card. Carry the card with you and add to it throughout the day when you feel inspired. At the end of the day, give the card to a family member and talk about it, or read it out loud to yourself.⁣
  4. Pleasant Activity: Feeling stressed and anxious makes us participate less in life. So recover from stresses by scheduling and participating in enjoyable activities. For inspiration, Google “pleasant activities list.” Make a pact to schedule at least one activity a day into your calendar and watch your joy grow. ⁣⁣
  5. Engage Senses: There is nothing that brings instant calm than engaging your senses in a positive way. So light a candle, gaze out the window to the beautiful world outside, dance to one of your favorite songs, or smell something delicious like citrus or a sprig of rosemary. ⁣⁣

⁣⁣What are your favorite ways to find calm?

More from Judy Ho Ph.D., ABPP, ABPdN
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