How To Calm Your Nerves In 5 Minutes, Or Less

by Vanessa Luis

You try to keep your cool, but stress keeps catching up with you time and again—if this has become a regular occurrence in your life, take solace in the fact that there are many ways to relieve stress. A massage or a therapy session may work well, if you have time on hand.

But if you feel like a bundle of nerves in the middle of the day, you need to find a quick relaxation technique. When faced with an intense situation, you need to get back to your center immediately, says performance coach and clinical psychologist, Ben Bernstein. Knowing how to center yourself will help you calm down. He suggests four ways to do it:

Mindful Breathing Exercises:

  • Breathe down to your belly, taking long, deep breaths (not heaving your chest up and down). Your solar plexus (belly area) has lots of nerve endings. Thus, deep breathing will calm the center of your body, as well as the mind.
  • Feel your feet on the floor, and feel the ground really support you. Release any physical tension. When you’re anxious, you tend to feel un-grounded. You need to get yourself back on the ground and feel its support.
  • You’re probably tensing up your muscles. To de-stress them, systematically go through your body by first purposely tensing each muscle group (hands, arms, shoulders, legs, feet). Then let go, releasing the muscles, one at a time. Pair this with a deep inhale-exhale action, and you’ll feel instant relief.
  • Open your senses. Feel the different textures of clothing on your body; see all the colors in the environment around you, sip a glass of water very slowly. When you’re nervous and tense, you are cut off from your sense, and stuck within yourself, which is not a good place to be. Get yourself into the outside world, and get some perspective. You’ll calm down, soon enough.

Jin Shin Jyutsu Exercises:

Another technique that can be quite useful is the Jin Shin Jyutsu, which is a balancing and harmonizing practice that uses light touch to heal. Integrative wellness practitioner, Teri Meissner claims that this Japanese technique can help deal with anxiety quickly. Practicing these self-help exercises can relax the body and the mind in as little as five minutes.

  • One very simple Jin Shin Jyutsu exercise is to hold the fingers of the hands one at time, taking long,slow deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling (approximately 5 breaths each finger).
  • Hold the thumb of the left hand and breathe (5 breaths), then hold the index finger of the left hand and breathe (5 breaths), then hold the middle finger of the left hand and breathe (5 breaths), then hold the ring finger of the left hand and breathe (5 breaths), then hold the little finger of the left hand and breathe (5 breaths).
  • Finally, hold the palm of the left hand and breathe (5 breaths).
  • When you’re done, repeat the process on the right hand.

Doing so induces the relaxation response, calms the nervous system, boosts the circulatory system, decreases symptoms of pain, anxiety, stress, nausea, and fatigue.

We stress on the importance of breathing exercises because inhaling and exhaling regulate the oxygen and carbon dioxide flow. Holding your breath in particular, increases your carbon dioxide levels. This has a mild sedative effect, which could help you calm down. It also relaxes the nerve receptors in your muscle tissues that help break physical stress or tension reflex.

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