How to Calm Down When Stressed

I have a secret to admit. I get stressed and angry. So do my kids.

Okay, so that’s not really a secret. We’re human. Stress, frustration, and anger get the best of everyone from time to time. But how do we calm down when we’re stressed?

That’s the million dollar question, am I right?

Getting angry puts us in flight or fight mode. We just need it to stop. But in order to stop it, we first need to understand the reason it happens.

Once you know the reasoning, you’re better able to stay calm yourself and know that you’re on the right path to help get everyone cooler and less stressed.

READ: How to Deal with Temper Tantrums Like a Boss – Even When Your Kid is Past the Toddler Stage

First, let’s know that the research is.

Dan Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD talk about brain development in terms of an “upstairs” and “downstairs” brain in their book The Whole Brain Child. 

It works like this:

Downstairs Brain controls things like:

  • Emotions 
  • Limbic system (like breathing and blinking

Upstairs Brain controls things like:

  • decision-making
  • self-awareness, 
  • empathy and morality

And when we are kids (and I am talking about anyone younger than an adult) the stairs between the two sections of the brain are “incomplete”. Our kids cannot simply go from one section of their brain to the other on their own. They need us to help them. 

WATCH: Video for kids explaining the upstairs brain and downstairs brain

Second, know when you leave your zone.

Figuring out how upset you are has a lot to do with what self regulation zone you are in.

There are 3 of them:

  • Green zone. This is where you’re in control and feeling calm. 
  • Blue zone. This is where we often freeze and shut down due to stress.
  • Red Zone. This is where you, well, blow up. This is the “fight” response in action.

READ: What To Do After Yelling at Your Child

We spend the majority of our time in the green zone (thank goodness), but when something happens that upsets us or stresses us out, we leave our cozy green zone and creep into the blue or red zone.

And when you leave your zone, that’s your cue that you need time to calm down. As adults we can normally figure this out for ourselves relatively quickly, but our kids need our help figuring out when they leave their zone and that it’s okay (and good) to take time to cool down.

Third, teach kids how to cool down.

So how do we teach our kids to calm down? 

We talk about it and we model it!

A great way is to say “We need a few minutes to calm down”. You can also talk to them about how you calm down. 

Here are a few easy cool down strategies:

  • Belly breathing 
  • Removing yourself and walk away
  • Walking or light physical activity
  • Listening to music

That’s it. It’s that simple.

However, if you want a little more help with these steps, you will want our program for kids Emotions 911, which teaches your child directly how to name their emotions, recognize when they’re angry, and communicate those feelings with other people.

Resources We Shared:

The Secret to Connecting With Your Kid with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson (Episode #24)

Emotions 911 course for kids

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

Get Rich, Lucky B*!: Release Your Money Blocks and Live a First-Class Life

The Zones of Regulation 

Download the Transcripts HERE

The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here .  These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.

Brie Tucker

COO/ Podcast Producer at No Guilt Mom
Brie Tucker has over 20 years of experience coaching parents with a background in early childhood and special needs. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and is certified in Positive Discipline as well as a Happiest Baby Educator.

She’s a divorced mom to two teenagers.

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