Ways to create a habit of calm

From a one-minute breathing exercise to an hour’s reflexology session, here are 10 routes to inner peace

1. Take conscious breaths

Reduce tension quickly by focusing on the breath. Take a deep breath fully into your chest and abdomen and then slowly exhale. By giving attention to your breath, you take it away from the crisis. The extra oxygen circulating through the body will encourage clearer thoughts.

2. Press away the pressure

Acupressure – which is like acupuncture, but uses touch instead of needles – can be helpful in a challenging situation. Try pressing the web between your thumb and index finger or rub your thumb (or a chosen crystal) firmly over the palm of your opposite hand. Repeat several times until you’re feeling more relaxed.

3. Drop into your body

Be conscious of how your body feels during a difficult situation. Where are you holding tension? Is it in your jaw, neck, shoulders or stomach? Sit with the frustration, anger, or whatever you’re feeling. Notice those tense areas and try to relax the muscles so that you’re more at ease.

4. Get creative

Immerse yourself in an art practice. Whether you sketch, paint, write, knit, compose or play music, being creative focuses attention. You’ll quickly feel more relaxed as you tune into the zone.

5. Pause and be open

If you’re in the middle of an argument or confrontation and feel irritation or anger rising, take a moment to sit with those feelings and how you’re reacting to the other person. This might feel challenging at the time, but be compassionate. Notice the other person, listen to them, try to understand what they’re feeling, find some connection, and open your heart. This is easier to achieve when you’re calmly aware. In the end, you might agree to disagree, but it might help to be able to walk away without any lasting hurt to yourself and the other person.

6. Take up yoga or tai chi

These ancient practices encourage mindfulness and wellbeing. By focusing on posture, technique, breath and movement, practitioners can become more in tune with their body, mind and spirit, and feel where they are holding tension before consciously letting it go.

7. Be in nature

Sitting on a park bench listening to birdsong or going for a walk along the beach watching the tide lapping the shore is a gentle way of restoring equilibrium. Being in the natural world has long been known for its soothing effect.

8. Laugh more

It sounds simple, but laughter can diffuse tense feelings and helps to recognise life’s frustrations from a more enlightened perspective. Make space in life for laugh-out-loud activities that you love.

9. Go for a walk

A brisk walk is an effective way of encouraging life’s stresses to run out of steam. With each mindful footfall, strong feelings and tension can quickly dissipate. By the end of the walk, the chances are you’ll feel calmer and more focused.

10. Have a foot rub

Treat yourself to a regular reflexology session. Alternatively, give yourself a foot rub using lavender or camomile essential oil blended with sweet almond oil. Massage your feet, paying special attention to the area around the big toe (which energetically represents the head and neck area), the joint below the little toe (shoulder area) and under the foot arch (stomach area).

Enjoying our inspiring stories? Sign up to our newsletter and receive our latest editorial and offers directly in your inbox.