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How to Keep Calm and Move On

No matter how often we practice yoga, why does it seem like all the lessons learned are forgotten once in the throes of stress? Recently I discovered another technique that helped me calm down, and it’s something that can be done anytime or any place.

It was a Friday at 5 p.m. I got stuck on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway taking my son to soccer practice. We’d been doing this route for about a month, and were well aware of the heavy traffic that can occur at this time. But on this day, it was different. We weren’t moving. We were literally stuck on the BQE with no way to escape.

Since I had kids in the car, I didn’t want to come off as some crazy Mom Gone Wild by shouting profanities at the other drivers. I was also driving so I couldn’t get into a yoga pose. What did I do? I cranked up Lite FM and started singing to Pat Benatar. It worked! All my stress and anger released with the lyrics from Hit Me With Your Best Shot. And although I did receive a slew of eye rolls coming from the back seat, I realized that singing is an excellent way to calm down during a stressful situation.

3 Other Techniques to Help You Keep Calm and Move On

1. Shaking. This is from Qi Gong, a movement meditation practice, and will work dramatically to eliminate tension from the body. You only need a few minutes to do this. Simply put on a favorite song and shake for the duration. Begin with your legs and slowly shake each one. Then move onto your arms, your head, neck and torso. Eventually you will shake your entire body. Your heart rate may rise from the rapid movement (although you don’t have to go fast if that doesn’t feel right). When the song ends, slow down your shaking, and finish by doing each body part alone. It’s nice to finish with a few moments of stillness to feel the effects that the shaking had on your mind and body.

2. Breathing. I was so happy when I learned that they’re teaching mindfulness in my daughter’s school, and when I asked the teacher about it, she explained that bringing awareness to the body through the breath is how they are transitioning from recess back to their academic curriculum. They’re using it to help the kids calm down! My daughter taught me the “square breath” that she learned in school, which involves inhaling for four, holding for four, and then exhaling for four. This could also be helpful when trying to fall asleep.

3. Writing. You don’t have to be a daily journaler to use writing as a stress reliever. The next time you hit your boiling point, whether it’s from Sharpie on the sofa or a leak in the bathroom, instead of lashing out at whoever is in front of you, put it down on paper. You can write in all caps and use lots of exclamation points if you wish. The purpose is to create some space between you and the incident. Writing it down will give you this space so when you return to the situation, you’ll have a refreshed perspective and a calmer state of mind.

What techniques do you use to keep calm and move on? —Elysha

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