Whole Heart

7 Steps to Instant Calm

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Shift your focus

When you're feeling tense, you may get the (unproductive) urge to mentally replay what went wrong over and over in your mind.

Dr. Emmons recommends shifting your focus to your body instead. Find a quiet place to sit down, and concentrate on feeling the seat beneath you. Then take long, deep breaths from your diaphragm; try inhaling through your nose for a count of four, holding for two, and exhaling through your mouth for seven. Exhaling longer than you inhale deepens your breathing, which helps calm your nervous system. "You can even practice your breathing when you're not stressed, so you know exactly what deep-breathing counts soothe you," Dr. Emmons says.

Next: Get a move on