In times of distress or difficult emotions our breathing becomes irregular sending signals through our nervous system affecting our physical and mental state. This is why It is important for us to find a sense of calm and relaxation and bring focus back to the present moment.
Regulating stress involves identifying and managing various physical and emotional responses to stressors. There are many different strategies and techniques that can help, including exercise, mindfulness, deep breathing, and journaling, to name a few. I have put together an information sheet of stress-management techniques that has helped me personally and representing them in a poster has been a personal project that I wanted to share - it may spark one or some techniques but hopefully for people to simply enjoy my infographic cartoon character in a peaceful state of meditation to be a reminder for self-care and calmness every time you pass it by.
The infographic identifies the symptom and suggests an activity in resetting and calming the body and mind. This blog explains the ideas behind the tasks suggested.
After regulating the distress signal, a sigh can really help affirm your success in resetting the body and mind. When we sigh, it releases tension in our muscles and helps to regulate our breathing, which can reduce stress levels. On a physical level, sighing helps to fill the lungs with fresh air, which can improve oxygen levels in the bloodstream and support the body’s natural healing process. Sighing also sends signals to the brain to release hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which help to improve mood and reduce anxiety. All of these physiological benefits can help to provide a sense of calm and relaxation and can be used as a tool to reset the body and mind.
PANIC > acupressure:
For moments or attacks of panic, concentrating on tapping or pressing certain areas of the body can help distract your racing thoughts to a repetitive task that will help reduce the intensity of the physical symptoms of panic and let you catch onto a regulating path again. My preferred method is pressing the thumb against each finger in turn with firm pressure until the uneasy sensations subside.
ANXIETY > breathe 4/3/7
Prolonged anxiety will develop into symptoms of stress so it is important to slow down your breath when you notice your worry rising, this will access the parasympathetic the nervous system and send out a signal of safety. By taking slower, rhythmic breaths in a sequence such as – in for four counts, hold for three and breathe out for seven counts – allows your cells to relax and respond to the environment. Over time, this practice can help to increase the body’s overall resilience to stress and help to prevent long-term health problems.
OVERWHELM > hummmmm
Humming is an easy, accessible way to reduce feelings of overwhelm. The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve and is responsible for carrying sensory information from the body to the brain. Humming sends vibrations to the vagus nerve which not only sends signals to the brain helping to regulate heart rate and digestion, it releases endorphins that can help to reframe stress and calm the body. Just hum, deep tone, gentle… and feel the increased oxygen and energy fill your body!
GUILT > visualise
Goodness we can beat ourselves up with guilt can’t we! It will lead to intrusive thoughts which can be damaging to our self-worth and future character growth. The need to check in with yourself (reflect) is at its highest necessity at this stage and by visualising yourself as a friend or family member giving out compassion, you will create a safe space to connect with the inner self and process emotions of guilt. If you find visualising ineffective you can use a real mirror – difficult to look yourself in the eye but answering to yourself is key when addressing guilt because we all respond to our environment in reflection of our emotions and in that we need to give ourselves a bit of understanding.
DOUBT > back from 5
When we doubt our ability to do a task, it can create a sense of paralysis that keeps us from taking action. We become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what it will take to complete the task and our doubts can start to eat away at our motivation to get started. Take a breath, remind yourself that no matter how difficult the task may seem, you CAN break it down, you just need to start. Without thinking of a counter response, count down from five and then just start. This simple action can help to break through the doubt and give you the momentum to make the FIRST STEPS towards completing it.
FRUSTRATION > mantra
Frustration can be difficult to catch and stubborn to settle. It has a source of a core value being betrayed or a boundary not respected or even good attempts which don’t seem to work out. In these moments we need reminders of our intentions to help reframe the situation and shift your attention to something more productive. Repeating a mantra when you are frustrated can help you to focus on something more grounding giving you a sense of control and stability. The mantra can take the form of a phrase, a word, or even just a sound like a melody segment of a song which can be repeated as often as needed to give your mind space for compassion leading to more calming thoughts.
STRESSING > 5 senses
Managing stress starts with mindfulness. It may feel like a waste of time to give every…thing and thought around you some space but that room becomes our environment and can help ground us in the present moment. If you can start by thinking of one thing for each of the senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste) it’s a good way to realise that we make the space that keeps us calm and relaxed. We then need to continue this practice through other tasks like meditation, creating (bake/make/plan), music playlist, journaling, fun exercise (skate/dance/swim), or even next to our to-do list run a NOT-TO-DO list! Increase that space little by little and remember there is no time limit!
I really hope these activities help to make many moments of peace of mind. I've shared the ideas on this blog but remember there's an infographic that's easy to reference along with a poster which is being sold on Etsy, if you would like the help sheet or know of a friend or family member that could benefit, send them along to the shop item here.
If you would like to read more about the soothing power of sighing, have a read of Psychology Today: Using sighs for soothing