As a highly-sensitive person (as defined by Elaine Aron in her bestseller The Highly Sensitive Person), it’s easy for me to become overwhelmed, or over-aroused (not in a sexual way—not on antidepressants). I have been compiling ways to calm down over the years. I learned some in Aron’s book, some as part of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program I participated in, and just recently picked up a slew of them in Lauren Brukner’s fantastic book, The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control. Brukner is an occupational therapist who helps kids with sensory integration issues be able to keep it together in school. However, her techniques are brilliant for adults too.
1. Hand Massage
I learned this one in both the MBSR program and in Brukner’s book. What’s great about it is that you can do it while attending a lecture, listening to your kids fight, or sitting at your desk working. No one will notice. Simply use the thumb of one hand and press around the palm of the other hand. It’s very soothing.
2. Palm Push
By pushing your palms together and holding for five to ten seconds, you give your body “proprioceptive input,” according to Brukner, which “lets your body know where it is in space.” I like this one because it reminds me of tree position in yoga, which is the last of the standing series postures in Bikram yoga. By then, I am quite happy to hold the tree position. The palm push is like a mini, portable tree position I can pull out any time to calm down.