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How to cultivate calmness in a chaotic world

As we come to the end of Women’s history month, whilst we can celebrate the progress of equality you don’t have to look far to see from social media or the news that the world has a long way to go before equality is truly achieved.

Recent horrifying news articles over the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, who was just walking home, shone a light onto women's darkest fears becoming the catalyst to a huge social media outpour from thousands of women sharing their fears and experiences, as well as a response from men who want to help.

For change to happen it’s important that these conversations are had, and people share their stories, talk about their fears to spur on growth, education and change.

However the downside to the constant social media updates and news refreshes is that it can amplify feelings of un-safety, uncertainty, fear and anxiety. We wanted to share some possible ways to try to help both women and men cultivate a sense of safety.

Put your phone down

The instant updates on social media and news apps can make it tempting to keep refreshing the pages, but to try to give your brain space and your body time to leave its ‘fight or flight’ stress state try to have some time away from your phone. It can be helpful to set time allowances on apps so that they don’t consume you.

Return to mother nature

Whilst your daily walk might be the last thing you want to do when you feel anxious or scared, try to take some time outdoors in nature, reconnecting to the earth, trees and ground beneath you can really help to ground and stabilise feelings of fear.

When you are immersed in nature and hear calming nature sounds, or even the silence away from the humm of a city, this helps to lower your bodies blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone called cortisol, to help you feel more relaxed. Researchers in Holland and Japan found that as little as 30 minutes outdoors can reduce the body's cortisol, stress hormone levels.

Take a deep breath

Another way to help to feel more calm is to practise some slow breathing, this exercise can be really great to help activate your brain and body to a calmer state.

Box breathing:

To try box breathing:

1) Sit upright comfortably, mouth, face, jaw, neck and shoulders relaxed

2) Breathe through your nose

3) Inhale for four counts

4) Hold the breath for four counts

5) Exhale four counts

6) Hold the breath for four counts

7) Repeat for a minimum of 12 rounds

You could even try it outdoors to link with the sounds of nature.

Move your body

Joining the breath and the body in the union of yoga can also be another way to help ground yourself, bringing you into the present. When we work with our minds and bodies in yoga we bring ourselves completely into the present. Yoga reduces the body's response to stress, and helps to produce ‘happy hormones’ helping you feel calmer.

The practise of yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that can help to achieve peacefulness of body and mind - this stillness, and breathing reduces cortisol levels. Japanese researchers also found that those who regularly practise yoga have low cortisol levels.

Cuddle your pooch

One other way to help your body and mind calm down, and possibly our favourite way, is to cuddle your pet (or if you can borrow someone’s to cuddle!). Stroking a fluffy animal lowers your blood pressure by 10% as the body releases feel good hormones, known scientifically as serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin and lowers the stress hormone cortisol.

The world can be a scary and unsettling place, but we are stronger together. Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is ask for help, so if you are wanting to talk to someone here’s a list of organisations who provide support:

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

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