Updated: Dec 9, 2022
Having dealt with PTSD and anger management in my life I know how hard it can be to deal with your intense emotions. When you feel anxiety or anger head on, or when you feel stressed and overwhelmed, it can create all sorts of problems - from not being able to enjoy the moment, to doing and saying things you regret, to sabotaging your work and your relationships.
In those moments, it's often really hard to calm down, no matter how much you try. It can lead you to do and say things that you regret later on. I know, I've been there. Our emotions and stress can take the wheel and make us feel out of control if we don't have healthy ways of regulating ourselves.
Being in psychology I have learned that numbing your emotions or using "self control" doesn't work long term. So how can you calm down in difficult moments in a way that actually works? That doesn't require a lot of time, and in a way that's healthy for you?
If calming down when you're feeling stressed or experiencing intense emotions is something you're currently struggling with, I'm going to share with you a scientifically proven method that can help you de-escalate even in the most stressful conditions.
This is a method I use anytime I feel my intense emotions and want to calm down quickly. My clients have seen the benefits for themselves in being better able to handle their emotions and keep their stress levels low. It's practical, easy and effective - but the only catch is that you have to do it to see the results for yourself!
What is this scientifically-proven technique? It's a form of slow paced breathing called Box Breathing. It is one of the simplest and most effective ways to directly get your Nervous System back into a calm state.
If you’re skeptical, here's why you should try it:
Slow Paced Breathing is arguably one of the best emotion regulation strategies that we know of to date. This is one technique that psychologists, doctors, yogis and alternative healthcare practitioners all agree on - That your breath can help you quickly get into a calm state.
Breathing techniques are often used by people in the most stressful situations, including the Navy Seals, paramedics, and firefighters. So be open to the idea that whatever you’re dealing with, it can help you to quickly and effectively calm down.
I learned about the power of box breathing from a paramedic I met at a personal development course. He had studied the most effective breathing techniques to stay calm since he would deal with real life or death situations on a daily basis. He was struggling with having PTSD because he was constantly exposed to high levels of stress and traumatic situations. He generously offered me his research and his experience with breathing techniques, and emphasized “box breathing”.
After learning more about it, and trying it out for myself, I realized every person on this planet should know about this! This is the technique that I find most effective when looking to calm the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) - This is the system mainly responsible for your fight/flight response, and what's activated when you're feeling stressed or intense emotions.
It is the closest thing to magic if you're looking to get back in control of your emotions and get yourself into a calm state in the moment.