Need a way to stop your blood from boiling and sending your blood pressure through the ceiling?  Read on to find out how to regain your calm.

We’ve all been there.  Your child left his brand new coat at school – again.  The dog just ran across the carpet with muddy paws right before visitors are due.  The accident ahead just prevented you from getting to an appointment that took weeks to secure.  Or how about this one?  You open a bill in the mail, only to find that there are unexpected charges with insurance codes attached that require an inch-thick guidebook to decipher.

Before you scare the kids and unleash the dragon that is Mom in her least-favorite form; before the neighbors hear you yelling vows to send the family pet to the pound, and before the driver next to you sees you ranting through the window or the insurance call-center representative gets an earful of your wrath, just stop a moment.  Gather your senses – all of them – and choose the ones that are going to soften the blows and help you regain your composure – quickly!

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We all react differently to stressors, and the remedy that is right for a friend may not work for you at all.  So it is time to do some experimenting.  What is going to work for you personally? Learning what works for you in the moment is like learning a new skill, and it may take some time.  Try out some of the ideas below, and you may find your world doesn’t go dark when the clouds roll in:

Take a Step Back – Remove yourself from the situation for a few moments, or just take some deep, cleansing breaths and decompress.  You will be able to problem-solve much better once your mind is quiet.

Analyze the Stress Itself – Take a look at it from different angles.  Did the children or the family pet act irresponsibly on purpose?  Is the ambulance ahead taking someone’s loved one to the hospital?  Is the call center rep the one who actually assigned codes and billed you?  If you are going to tackle the issue, you need to first be clear on how to respond to the audience.

Use Your Senses  While you try out what works best for you, keep a list.  If something makes you feel at peace, write it down.  If you smell something that brings you a feeling of relaxation or joy – write it down.

  • Sight – Keep cherished family photos in plain sight at home and in your work space.  Brighten up a room with your favorite flowers or fragrant plants.  Go outside in warm weather and watch leaves rustle in the trees.  Close your eyes and remember a family vacation where everyone was smiling, or a moment in time you felt very proud of yourself.  Watch a viral video.  Laughter will ease stress immensely.
  • Sound – Listen to different tracks of music and find one or two that seem to lift your spirits.  Add them to your list.  Stand next to wind chimes or keep a recording of them and other noises that calm your nerves to play in stressful moments. Sit on a porch and listen to birds, or hum a tune to yourself.
  • Smell – Keep candles lit with your “happy” fragrances.  Lemon, ginger and peppermint are popular for relaxing.  Go smell those flowers you are keeping around the house or go get some fresh air.  Spritz on your favorite body spray and lie down for a few moments before tackling what has annoyed you.  Keep a piece of cloth or a handkerchief in a sealed, plastic bag, scented with your favorite perfume in the glove box of your vehicle for emergency use.  And if you are in the middle of cooking, take a few moments to smell the different spices you are adding to the food. 
  • Touch – Hold something you love.  A stuffed animal, a favorite pillow.  Pet a cat … stay away from the dog until you calm down!  Wash your hands with a lavender or eucalyptus soap, dry them off, and then cup your hands around your nose and breathe deeply.  If you are in your car, keep something soft or squishy you like to hold in stressful moments.
  • Taste – Slowly savoring a treat can be very relaxing, but don’t start mindless eating.  It will only make you stress more about your waistline.  Chew a piece of sugar-free gum.  Eat a piece of fruit or eat some crisp snap peas or carrots.  Concentrate on the flavors and let your mind stop racing.  Sip a favorite beverage.
  • Movement – Make use of several senses at the same time.  Take a walk and smell the fresh air.  Scrunch up your toes, and then relax them.  Try it with different parts of the body, until you feel calmed.  Dance around, jog in place, or even massage the space between your thumb and forefinger … experiment with what works best for you.

When it comes down to it, you have to face what you can fix right away, and what is going to take some planning.  There is no need to scare your child by yelling about the jacket.  Instead, make a plan of action to help them remember to bring it home in the future.  As for the muddy prints – if you have time to get out the carpet cleaner in the garage, go for it!  Otherwise, you may have to put Rover outside, smell the flowers and just explain that your four-legged family member was just excited with all the commotion.

When stuck in traffic, make a call to see if your appointment can be moved into a cancelled slot, and if it can’t, turn on your favorite tunes and look around you.  Maybe you’ll see a new store you never knew was there.  Need to make a dreaded phone call?  Deep breathe, remember the representative most likely did not code your doctor’s visit incorrectly, don’t attack.  Start off by saying, “I really hope you can help me.”  Give them opportunity to feel they alone have the power to make a positive difference in your day.

The key is to recognizing what works for you, and keeping those stress-busters handy for situations as they arise.  Your heart will thank you, and so will the world around you!