In our everyday life it’s not uncommon to feel a little stress. Or, perhaps, a lot of stress. It seems almost unavoidable: from issues at work, rising costs of living, or even the weather – there can be a lot to be stressed by.

But there are skills you can learn that can help you to calm down and focus, even in the most stressful situations, on something else. These skills can be learned and used to bring you calm not only when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but also during less taxing periods during the day.  

Here are six tips to help bring some calm into your day – no matter how it’s going.

1. Stop

It’s really important to stop for a moment or two during the day. Even a quick pause helps you to refocus on what’s important and can help settle that ‘headless chicken’ feeling we all get from time to time. The more little pauses you can build into your day – and they literally only have to be a moment long – the more calm you’ll feel throughout the day.   Here’s an easy way to remember what to do:

  • Stop  
  • Take three breaths  
  • Observe  
  • Proceed

2. Take a breath

Taking a deep breath – or even better, three deep breaths in a row, is a really easy way to both physically and mentally calm yourself down. It helps to bring oxygen into the body – we tend to breathe shallowly when we’re stressed, whether we realise it or not, and more oxygen keeps us working better all round.  

In addition, it’s been shown that changing how you feel physically can change how you feel mentally. So calming the physical feeling of anxiety caused by stress with a few deep breaths can help to change the anxious state of mind. When taking a deep breath it’s important to focus on the exhale. Exhale for nine seconds, inhale for seven seconds.

3. Focus on your feelings

Whenever possible, take a moment to focus on your feelings at various points during the day. This gives you time and space to decide if it’s possible to change them and improve your day or situation in that way.  

Even noticing how you are feeling can change how you feel. Despite how it can seems, you can change your feelings about a situation. The more you practice noticing your feelings, the better you’ll get. The important thing is to focus on the feeling without judgement, just kindness.

4. Notice what’s around you

When your mind is full of thoughts and it feels very chaotic and stressful, it really helps to just pay attention to what’s around you.  

Focus on what’s going on around you – the people walking past, even the colour of the sky (if you can see it) or anything else that is in your immediate vicinity. Notice the colours, the textures, even the smells around you.  

This reminds you that you are more than the thoughts you are experiencing and brings you back into the moment.

5. Pay attention to your walk

If possible, when you’re feeling stressed, focus on your walk for a minute or two.  

Really focus on each step that you take, concentrating on how it feels to bring your foot down and then up again, the movement of your body, the swing of your arms, and all the related sensations and sounds. It might sound odd, but it really helps to focus you on the moment.

6. Take a mindful minute – or five

What’s a ‘mindful minute’ exactly? It’s a minute you take during the day to be mindful of what’s going on with you. So you can stop for a moment, take a breath, notice what’s going on around you, and focus totally on what you’re doing right in the moment – not in the past or future in your head, but right here, right now. And the more you manage to take of these during the day the better you’ll feel.  

A good exercise to try is when your phone rings, don’t pick it up for three rings. This will bring you into the present moment and give you time to pause. All these points are cumulative, so the more you practice them – the more you’ll experience the benefits.

Bringing some calm into your life is easier than you think – even in the most stressful situations, you can always take a breath and focus on it. If you practice these calming techniques on a daily basis, they’ll be easier to implement when things get tougher. To find out more visit Suicide or Survive and check out their free online workshop on bringing calm into your day here

Content provided by Suicide or Survive and orginally published on thejournal.ie. Find out more about our content partnerships.