5 Quick Ways to Calm Yourself


If I chose a single year that has challenged me throughout, it would be 2020. Other years have seen worse things happen, but this year has been relentless. It’s the slow drip-drip of restrictions and total upending of many areas of life that has proven difficult.

It has also made it more important than ever to rely on quick methods to calm my mind. I have tried many this year, with some working better than others. Here are a few quick fixes you can try whenever – and wherever – you need them.

Get some fresh air

Easy to say but not always easy to do – I know. I work at home, so I can easily get up and step outside into the garden for a few minutes.

But fresh air does wonders for us. Take a walk before you start work, wherever that might be. Even if all you can do is open a window and lean out for a few minutes, do it.

Belly breathing

This sounds odd, I know. Yet it is the way we should all naturally breathe. The next time you feel stressed, focus on how you are breathing. Chances are you’re doing it from your chest rather than your belly – short breaths that leave you out of breath.

Revert to belly breathing when you notice yourself doing this. You’ll relax more. Check in with yourself whenever you need to. You can find deep breathing exercises online too if you need them.


Really? Yes – grab a coloring book (there are plenty aimed at adults) or use an app (I recommend Happy Color) and color. I find it impossible to think about anything while I’m doing this. The app is better than you’d think – no stress about coloring outside the lines!

Hug yourself

Another one that may raise eyebrows, but I read about this a while back and thought I’d try it. It doesn’t substitute for hugging someone you love, but it did make me feel nurtured and calmer.

The other cool thing about this is that you can do it at work – just head to the restroom for a moment so you’re away from other people.

The cold water trick

Nothing magical about this one… or is there? I regularly wash my face in cold water first thing in the morning. Yet I also read that it can help reduce stress. It feels like you’re resetting yourself.

Obviously, it’s not ideal if you’ve got makeup on, but at the end of the day when you’re looking for a way to unwind and destress, it works a treat.

Which quick fixes work for you?

Maybe one or two of these suggestions will work. Maybe you’ll find some others you prefer. The point is to find a handful of fast ways to destress and calm your mind. If you can “disconnect” completely for a while, letting your worries float away, so much the better. My iPad coloring app does that for me. I spent five hours doing it last Saturday, so I must have really needed it!

-Allison Whitehead

Image: Colored mandala (Wikimedia Commons)






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