Do you ever feel like your body is freaking out, even when you use every mental tool you have to stay calm? That’s because panic and fear don’t just happen in the mind; they happen in the body, too.
When we become threatened, we experience a surge of chemicals designed to allow us to survive through whatever the event is. The physiological effects are increased adrenaline, acceleration of heart and lung action, shaking, dilation of pupils and more. Cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” is an integral part of our body’s “fight, flight or freeze” response. The fight, flight or freeze response is essentially a state of acute stress.
While stress is usually seen as a negative, it is beneficial if we need the surge of chemicals to help us fight, flight or freeze to avoid danger. However, it’s only useful in short bursts. Many of us get caught in this perpetual state, never releasing it from our system and returning to normal, or homeostasis. That’s when you feel the freak-out effect in your body pretty much all the time. You’re drained of energy, you lose your patience, you crave sugar, and you can barely get through the day.
How Stress Affects Your Mind, Body and Spirit
Animals in the wilderness shake, tremble, run, or do other physical activities to discharge the effect of these stress chemicals on their bodies. The natural human tendency is to do this, too. But, we’re often told (by ourselves or others) to “calm down,” “get it together,” “stop being so sensitive,” and “be a big boy/girl and suck it up.”
When we purge the survival chemicals after a trauma, it shows our primitive brain that we survived and we are safe. This sends a signal to the cognitive brain to process the information and throw out the irrelevant associations related to it.
If we don’t discharge the trauma though, the primitive brain freezes the event in our systems. Anything in the future that reminds of us this original event can trigger further responses.
But the great news is that you can retrain your body to chill out, even during times of stress. Try these three techniques.
3 Simple Calming Techniques
1. Tap Your Thymus Gland
The thymus gland is not only a huge part of your immune system, but is also known as the “happiness point.” It might be my favorite tapping spot on the body! Thumping it helps activate your immune system and bring your emotions into balance by sending a force of energy through the system, which can release energetic blockages.
How to tap your thymus: Find the “notch” in your neck where you’d tie a tie. Then go about an inch below that. Your thymus is under your breastbone but you will tap directly on your chest. When feeling strong emotion, tap your thymus gland continuously while taking deep breaths until you feel the emotion start to shift.
2. Tap or Rub Your “Panic Point”
Fear is maybe the single most stressful thing to your body. It’s totally normal if you feel it from time to time, but when your body gets stuck in a frozen state of fear, it’s call the “fight, flight or freeze response.”
How to use the panic point: In the groove between the pinky and ring finger, about halfway down on the top of the hand, is a point that helps calm the body. Simply use three or four fingers of your other hand and tap or rub that spot (you don’t need to be right on it) while taking deep breaths when you can’t calm down. This one is easy to do under a restaurant table or a desk. Because it’s directly on the Triple Warmer meridian or energy pathway, which governs the fear response in the body, working with it actually sends a message to that energy force to calm down and “back off” from being in overprotective mode.
3. Get Grounded
“Grounding” is the simple practice of connecting with the earth. It can help balance hormones, get and stay centered, and calm emotions.
How to ground your energy: If you can, find a place outside to stand barefoot—grass, sand, dirt or concrete; if not, inside is fine. Place your hands at the sides of your waist. With your thumb in the front and fingers toward the back, slide your hands slowly and firmly down your leg. When you get to your feet, squeeze at the sides of your feet. Stay connected to the earth as long as you can, but even five minutes can help you feel better.
That’s it. Easy, right? But these tools only work when you use them. So integrate them into your daily life and get ready for a calmer, more centered you.
Bodhi Tree Suggests…
In addition to the hands-on techniques above, here’s our favorite book and spiritual tools to help you in your quest for calmness in your daily life: