It seems like we are living in a constant state of stress. Bad news cycle after bad news cycle can leave a person feeling burnt out, to say the least. If you’re reading this article, it’s clear that you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed and anxious. And while the ultimate goal would be to take action and find a solution for thing that is occupying your mind, sometimes you just need a nervous system reset. It’s like they say: put your mask on before helping others.
Read on for five quick things you can do to calm your nervous system and put your feelings into perspective.
1. Do a gratitude exercise.
It’s easy to focus on the things that are weighing you down, the things you don’t have, and the things you wish you could change. But take a minute to focus on the things you do have — the things you are grateful for. A loving partner. A roof over your head. Food on your table. A stable job. Your health. The nature that surrounds you. Write them down. Read them again and again, and truly feel gratitude for your circumstances.
You don’t need a fancy app. Find a quiet place, preferably in nature, and take a seat. The second any thought—good or bad—enters your mind, push it away. Think of a river. You’re going down the river. Any thought that comes your way washes back behind you. Envision the sound of the river. Let your mind breathe.
3. Dunk your face in a bowl of ice water.
During moments of stress and panic, your limbic system is in charge and your frontal lobe (logical thinking, language, context, rational decisions, etc.) is not working. Dunking your face into a bowl of ice water can snap you out of a state of panic and brings your frontal lobe back online, which can allow you to use more cognitive grounding tools to stay regulated. [Source: Buzzfeed, Just Therapy Things]
4. Schedule a call with a therapist.
Sometimes you just need to talk it out. You can book on-demand virtual therapy with a number of services like Talkspace and Cerebral, or find someone local through Headway. Easy peasy.
5. Rework your schedule.
Have a bunch of social commitments that are only contributing more to your state of unrest? Cancel them. Send a nice text along the lines of, “Hi, I’m so sorry I can’t make it tonight. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and I just want to unplug for the night.” Real ones will understand.