How to Think Calm and Speak Clearly When Feeling Stressed
Stress can make our bodies react in odd ways like making our heart race, or our palms become sweaty. Even though we react differently to stress, we aren’t great at telling others or ourselves how to calm down.
As a life coach for entrepreneurs, my clients cannot afford to constantly be anxious and we need to find ways to calm ourselves quickly. This article will talk about how to regulate your body and feel calm again.
First, I’ll share my own experience with how anxiety has affected my communication skills.
Why can’t people see that I need help!
For the longest time, I lived in a state of quiet desperation. I constantly asked myself this question: “Can’t people see that I am stressed?”
Heart racing, skin flushed, on the brink of yet another panic attack – my physical signs of anxiety were apparent.
But here’s the twist: People could sense my unease even before I uttered a word.
Jumbled language. Confusing ideas
It wasn’t about my body language; it was the jumbled, fragmented sentences that tumbled out of my mouth when I did speak about my pain.
I would say comments like:
“It’s not right!”
“They are always out to get me.”
“I’m just so…”
No wonder I left people speechless or prompted them to avoid me during my meltdowns.
In my quest for comfort, faced with a world that seemed devoid of solace, I turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, explicit sexual content, and casual encounters. You can learn more about the train wreck of my past experiences here.
Why my needs were never met in a healthy way
Now, reflecting on my journey, I realize a crucial aspect of why I didn’t receive the comfort I craved. There were many reasons, but primarily they involved my failure to:
- Self-regulate my body
- Inability to communicate my needs effectively.
It can be hard to control your body and talk well, especially if the people who took care of you only showed you bad ways to behave like being too alone or too angry. But, there are good ways to feel good and get what you want.
In the following part, we will talk about how to do this.
How to regulate your body and get your needs met via communication
Here’s how you can improve how you talk to others when you’re feeling stressed or anxious:
1. Pause and Breathe
So many of us have trained ourselves to jump into action without skipping a beat. When something or someone is causing anxiety, it is neither necessary nor needed to immediately react.
We can pause and ask ourselves, “Will this action help or hurt me later?”
Just because the brain says it’s a great thing to do, doesn’t mean you should do it.
Our bodies were built for survival, and that requires doing whatever is necessary to keep ourselves from harm.
Your amygdala, located in the brain, is constantly on alert and ready to have you jump into action. While it may have helped our ancestors flee from saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, jumping and attacking things or people doesn’t work well in a building filled with expensive equipment.
Pausing and breathing means to pause and allow your brain time to process everything that is happening around you.
Take anywhere from 30 seconds up to two minutes to close your eyes and take slow, controlled breaths. This action will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system and signal your hypothalamus (the memory bank in your brain) to alert your amygdala to slow down. This slowing down process will allow you to think about constructive and healthy ways to deal with your fear and anxiety.
2. Identify Triggers
Some people you know have no idea what upsets them because they are constantly on high-alert. The fact of the matter is, we all have specific ideas, people, or things that irritate, upset, and annoy us. These are called triggers.
For the longest time, whenever I was upset, my husband would tell me to “calm down.” This seemingly helpful comment would actually make me even more irate.
Through my own healing journey, I examined past traumatic memories and realized that whenever someone said “calm down,” it was right before I was abused. To me, “calm down” meant “settle down before I violate you.”
To avoid triggers, identify the root causes of why you feel upset. Next, determine whether you even need to interact with certain people or situations. Ask yourself these questions:
- Can some things be removed?
- Can you distance yourself?
- Given the current situation, what is the best way I can make myself feel safe?
- How can I self-soothe myself?
Investigate all the ways you can keep yourself safe emotionally and spiritually.
3. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Understanding your emotions and those of others is key to self-regulating your nervous system, eliminating chronic stress and improving your relationships.
When you can understand your motivations and those of others, you will not only minimize miscommunication but also prevent problems from spiraling into an utter disaster.
I highly recommend the books “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman and “Why You Feel the Way You Do” by Reneau Z. Peurifoy.
4. Time Management and Boundaries
Let me tell you about a time when I thought I had to do everything all at once. I was trying to write lots of articles, talk to as many clients as my schedule would allow, find new ways to promote my business, and also be involved in church activities.
On top of that, I tried to cook for my family and keep my home super clean. It was a bit crazy when I look back on it. I used to feel proud when my schedule was jam-packed with activities, but it wasn’t healthy.
To feel calm, your mind and body need to be in a peaceful state throughout the day. But that’s hard when your body is stressed from trying to handle everything at once.
Be a better planner
Now, here’s the trick to living a calm life: Plan out the most important tasks (only those which are needed and necessary now) so your energized is maximized and you don’t get easily overwhelmed. When you manage your time well, you’ll be less stressed and communicate better.
Also, don’t forget to set limits on what you can do. Tell others about your limits so you can handle your work without too much stress.
Ask for help
Remember, it’s totally fine to ask for help when you need it. Some of us are trying to model the behavior of our parents that seemed like an energizer bunny.
We thought we had to keep going and going.
Keeping that behavior up, the only place you are going to is the hospital emergency room.
Nobody is going to fault you for saying, “I need help!” Most people want to help others.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment and tell someone exactly how you are feeling.
Let someone know if you’re feeling fearful, anxious, scared, or tired. They can help you see solutions that you may not have considered.
The image below is a summary of the tools we discussed. In the next section, I will share with you my final thoughts.
Being able to self-regulate your body, sense your triggers, and allow your mind the time and space to calm down is not going to be an easy process. This is especially true if you have the life script of “DON’T THINK.” But I am here to tell you that with practice, support, and time, you can learn to express yourself clearly and articulately, even in the most stressful times.
If you need more help, don’t hesitate to contact me. And if you want to dig deeper into this, listen to this episode between myself and Reneau Z. Peurifoy about understanding your emotions.