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How to Calm Down Quickly?

Learn how to calm down quickly and get in control of your feelings and emotions. Change your perspective and other stress relaxation techniques that can help.

Being overwhelmed with feelings and emotions it’s not easy to realize how to calm down quickly. That’s why preparing and developing a strategy that works is essential.

Catch Yourself Red Handed
How to Calm Down - Step 1

Emotional outbursts often just seem to happen with little or no warning. That's the nature of things.
But in order to calm down you need to be able to change your behaviour (and thoughts and feelings) quite suddenly. That's the tricky part.

That's why realizing that things are going wrong, that you start to get irritated or are not as patient as usual, is a very important step.

The good thing is, the more often you catch yourself, the better you'll be able to notice those early warning signs. Over time you'll be able to change strategies sooner and sooner. Finally, even before you have an emotional outbreak.

Stop what you're Doing
How to Calm Down - Step 2

Now, this sounds so very simple. But having an emotional outbreak often feels like being a marionette having little to no control over your feelings. You might feel like a helpless onlooker wishing a fairy would come and make it stop.

At this point you need to realize that you - yes you! - are that fairy. You need to make that decision. Just like sometimes, when you need to make the decision and tell youself to get out of bed in the morning, or to write that letter or do that phone call or or finally get on with your tax declaration.

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Win Some Time
How to Calm Down - Step 3

Stoping alone isn't enough. How long do you stop anyhow? Often life is so fast, that it draws you back into what is happening immediately. That is especially true when you're responsible that something must or mustn't happen.

At those times you want to make good decisions and find a way that works. At the same time having this pressure, often prevents from thinking clearly and in a logical way. What you need is time, sometimes only a few seconds to decide what to do next.

This might be just a few seconds to decide how to get your kids safely busy to find more time to sort your feelings or find better strategies to solve the problem. 

You could:

  • take one or 2 deep breaths (or more if you need to)
  • Breathe deeply until you’re calm
  • Count to ten – (or backwards) slowly. You can do that quietly just for yourself or so your kids can hear it. The latter might also warn them that it’s time to run. ;)
  • Think “calm” and repeat it three times, slowly
  • Remind yourself of the kind of relationship you want with your children.
  • Think of what you’re doing to your children (by yelling negative things or whatever)
  • Remind yourself, that your kids are not trying to upset you.

Experiment a little. If one doesn't work, try another one. Combine 2 or 3. Find out what motivates you most to find a decision.

Choose the best and write them down. You could even write them on little notes you put around the house. Next time you’re realizing that strong feelings and emotions are about to get the better of you, you could use them even before you’re out of control. 

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Find a Better Way to React
How to Calm Down - Step 3

The goal here is to try to meet everyone's most urgent needs, finding quick solutions where everyone wins. 

What you do next depends strongly on the situation out of which your outburst did arised in the first place. It also depends on your principles and bases very much on your understanding of the situation. 

For example: does your toddler start whining and clinging a lot while you need all hands to prepare dinner or feed the baby? You're getting frustrated with both of them? All the fussing and shouting doesn't help - of course.

It being just before dinner I'd assume the toddler is hungry and/or tired. You can't do much that quickly about him being tired, but a little snack could tie her over til dinner is ready - anything that's not too heavy or sweet to spoil his appetite.

So the more you know and find out about your child, yourself and the typical kind of environmental circumstances, that let you lose your temper, the better.

This is very much learning by doing. Instead of being frustrated that you have another outbreak use the chance to find out more.

You can find some strategies that help me to relax and might help you too or spur your creativity with "101 ways to reduce stress".

Prevention Is the Very Best Medicine
How to Calm Down - Looking Forward

It is a good thing to be able to calm down. Over time though I think it's better to avoid those situations that cause an explosion, and prepare for those typically challenging times.

Again, this is very individual, but the observations and ideas you developed in the previous steps and the strategies in "Ways of Controlling Emotions" will help.

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