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6 Quick and Actionable Tips to Regain Control of a Situation

Updated: Jan 25

When life gets a bit out of control, there are things you can do to help yourself. I call it personal first aid.

A digital sketch of a mum juggling many things

There are days when everything is going wrong. Those days will continue happening; we cannot cancel them. I wish.

But we can be prepared for when they show up. Hence, I suggest you note down these simple tips to help you quickly regain control of the situation.

None of these techniques require special education or preparation. We just need to remember to do it as soon as we feel overwhelmed, stressed or out of control.

1. Give yourself a hug

Hug yourself as if you were hugging a loved one. Squeeze opposite shoulders. Sway from side to side. Move your body the way it wants to move intuitively. Stay like this for a few minutes, feeling the warmth of your arms.

2. Pat your shoulders

Give yourself a hug. Now start rhythmically patting yourself, both sides at the same time.

The trick is not to lose the rhythm and get out of sync.

This rhythmical patting relaxes your muscles and allows your brain a few moments to recharge and recalibrate.

3. Be your own loving parent

You know how we comfort kids when they fall and cry because of a bruise?

“There, there, my poor darling. It will get better, I promise.”

The trick is not to give yourself a solution or a piece of advice or anything else constructive.

It's about gentle reassurance, just to show care and attention.

4. Have a cry

Crying released pent-up energy. We have myriads of emotions and feelings that we are not aware of. We also store emotions we think are not manly or womanly enough, childish, worthy, etc., add your own here.

These emotions are draining your battery. It’s better to admit to experiencing it and have a little cry. If not, we might explode at the most inappropriate time. At work during a tough meeting or with our loved ones. Medical News Today mentioned a study that suggested that crying may have a self-soothing effect.

Researchers believe that crying could reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, which could, in turn, reduce stress. - ScienceDirect

5. "Four-squares" breathing exercise

Any breathing exercise will do. I recommend this breathing exercise, also known as box breathing, because it is very easy to follow. Apparently, it's also used by the United States Navy SEALs.

I do it like this: exhale for the count of 4, breathe in for 1-2-3-4, breathe out for 1-2-3-4 rest for 1-2-3-4 and start again.

Working on your box breathing in times of calm can help you harness it in times of anxiety, even going so far as to lessen your body’s overall response to stress. - Dr Melissa Young

You could watch a very comprehensive video about this technique.

In my opinion you don't have to stick with the count of 4. As long as you are doing it slowly, you can do 7 or even 10 counts. That's where the benefits of this breathing exercise lie. When counting, you are distracting your mind and calming down your nervous system.

Counting also helps because sometimes you don't know if you are stressed or angry and counting is a known anger management technique.

Deliberately taking a slow, deep breath not only brings a soothing sense of relaxation, but also helps us to focus our attention in the present moment. - Dan Johnston, PhD

6. Sing something loud

Singing lowers cortisol and relieves stress and tension. - Sing Up Foundation

But when I say loud I mean loud. Hard rock? And maybe angry.

Of course, any singing will do. The research on the benefits of music and singing is quite extensive. But I encourage you to try something different. Try loud. Remember 'All by myself' by Celine Dion? It does not really work if you whisper it, does it? You need to act it out. And acting it out and improvising is what will help you to regain control over the situation and relieve stress.

Go to karaoke and sing your heart out. Sing something at the top of your voice. Get it out of your system. Apparently, heavy metal music can help one become better adjusted. That's exactly what we need.

If it's a nursery rhyme, sing it as if your life is dependent on it. Your child will be impressed, trust me (I tried it on my kids).

Final Thoughts on 6 Quick Tips on How to Regain Control of the Situation

When life gets tough - make sure you use one tip that works for you.

That means preparing in advance.

Try several tips and tricks and see which one resonates with you and which one is easier to remember.

Use it when you need to, and you'll notice how much easier it gets to de-stress and return to your normal-ish self more quickly.


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