Stress Busting Strategies That Invoke Calm

Modern living has created what seems to be an ever-increasing workload, a culture of demanding emails, texts and social media posts all vying for attention; in addition to financial juggling and all the other ‘life admin’ that keeps each week ticking along. Not that it ends there as, if you are really committed, there is also the need to fit in ‘scheduled down-time’ along with eating well and moving regularly so you can theoretically refill those energy reserves for all of the above…plus there is the need to carve out time to invest in social and family relationships!

When put in this context it’s easy to see that being incredibly busy can also potentially be stressful, depending upon how you are feeling. Because that’s the thing –

the difference between something being exciting and stimulating, or feeling overwhelming and stressful, is your ability to adapt to your environment at any given moment

– which is why some days just seem to fly along easily, and at other times you may be more inclined to throw in the proverbial towel and retreat to a desert island away from it all.

By all means take a moment to pause and ponder what life might be like on a tropical island – it’ll potentially be calming to visualise a beautiful place – which is what this article is about; what you can do if you find yourself with that less than ideal inner sensation…the one where you are feeling acutely stressed and under pressure to the point of discomfort. This is when you need a rapid ‘stress buster’ – an effective solution to bring about a feeling of calm.

Now it may be you’ve read all about how to eat well and exercise regularly to reduce stress (if not then this will be a topic covered in a future post); however, in the most part these recommendations are more of a long-term action plan to increase your resilience to stressors, rather than acute solutions. That said – a run really can help relieve tension and help you feel amazing, so if that’s your thing then next time you feel a bit under the pump – run! For everyone else, what you need in these instances is to induce what’s called the ‘relaxation response’ to change your internal chemistry and offset that adrenalised feeling of wanting to run away. To keep it simple I’ve listed three tried and tested stress busting strategies below:

Rapid Response Remedies

(1) Put yourself first.

If you find yourself in a situation that has you feeling ‘squeezed’, the best thing you can do (if at all possible) is to remove yourself for a few minutes and take steps to actively calm yourself.

Different things will suit different people but strategies could include: excusing yourself to ‘go to the bathroom’; go outside for a five minute walk; or perhaps make yourself a cup of tea (chamomile tea is often around and is a helpful calming herb). While there, take a few deep breaths (see below) to centre yourself – the act of controlled breathing can be very effective.

(2) Breathe.
You are already an expert at breathing as you’ve done it all your life! A simple breathing technique is to do the following:

  • Hold your breath and count to seven;
  • Breathe out slowly while mentally saying ‘relax’;
  • Breathe in slowly for a count of seven;
  • Breathe out slowly while mentally saying ‘relax’;
  • Continue this for 3 to 5 minutes (depending upon how much time you feel you have).

This exercise can be carried out lying down, sitting or standing and gets easier with practice. Give it a go and you will have an effective calming tool to use anytime, anywhere.

(3) Use an anxiolytic herbal formula.
Named for their ability to also help with feelings of anxiety (not that dissimilar to many peoples description of stress); a number of herbs support the activity of your primary calming neurotransmitter (brain chemical), gamma aminobutyric acid or ‘GABA’. Examples of fast-acting herbs with this soothing quality include passion flower, magnolia, lavender and California poppy. Whilst herbal teas can help, to find the perfect formula for your needs at a dose that will work well the best solution is to speak to me so I can take into consideration your health history and any medications you may be using.


There is no doubt that life is getting busier for most people, and this is putting ever-increasing pressure on our ability to rapidly adapt and remain calm at all times. Look out for the upcoming post on how to build resilience to life’s stressors for the long-term; but in the meantime, keep up your sleeve a few more immediate strategies for those moments when you need to rapidly calm and centre yourself if it becomes necessary.