3 simple remedies for a stressed-out mind

 Smiling father and son focus on preparing salad in kitchen

When you’re stressed out, it’s difficult to stay open to ideas that might help make things better. Here are three simple ways to immediately slow a stress reaction and feel more calm and focused so you can think straight.

1) Slow down. Literally. Whatever you’re doing—walking, talking, typing, even driving—start doing it at a slower pace. Brain activity copies what the body is doing, so if you move slower, your mind starts to move slightly slower, too, and the flurry of stressed-out thoughts start to calm down.

2) Soften your body. The body tenses up during stress. You often don’t notice it happening, but that’s how you end up with tight, achy shoulders or a stiff neck at the end of a hard day. Take moments throughout your day to actively soften your body—adjust the way you’re standing or sitting, move around a bit, stretch your arms overhead or bend and sway. If you’re slouching, trying sitting up straight. Stretch your chest. Roll your shoulders and your head.

3) Be mindful of a simple task. Any simple task. One thing we know about the way the brain works, is that when you focus one thing at a time, you can’t also be thinking about all the other things worrying you. Try focusing on any one thing: washing the dishes, eating something mindfully, walking slowly, tuning in to a friend talking. Even just a few brief moments of focus will give your stressed brain a break.



This copyrighted information courtesy of Mindful.org and psychologist Elisha Goldstein.

Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. August 2019.

Mindful, healthy mind, healthy life

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or other coverage documents. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.