Sometimes it can feel like our minds are spinning a bit out of control.

This is a normal response to stress, although it can be really uncomfortable.

The good news is that there are a few simple ways to calm your mind and take back control. 

Here are 4 ways to calm your mind when stress hits:

Box breathing

This simple and effective breathing exercise is a tried and true method of calming the mind. 

Studies show that controlling your breathing reduces your heart rate and blood pressure, while also lowering the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. 

Breathing exercises also stimulate the vagus nerve which is responsible for our bodies’ “relaxation response.” 

Stimulating the vagus nerve can also reduce inflammation, increase our quality of sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve our mood. 

Box breathing is utilized by people in high-stress conditions, like navy seals, to calm the mind and focus on the task at hand. 

Click here for a quick tutorial on how to do box breathing. 

Do a 10-minute brain dump

The term “brain dump” was popularized by author David Allen in his book Getting Things Done.

A brain dump is a writing exercise designed to clear space in your brain and calm your mind.

Think of it like decluttering your room; only your room is your brain. 

The exercise is very simple. All you need is a pen and paper. Set a timer for 10 minutes and just write whatever comes to mind. 

If nothing comes to you at first, start by writing about your surroundings. 

Listen to music for 13 minutes 

Extensive research shows that 13 minutes of listening to music can greatly reduce negative emotions and thoughts, increase focus, and promote relaxation. 

Slow tempo music appears to work best for calming your mind. You can try classical, jazz, or light acoustic tunes. 

Try a mindful observation exercise

Mindfulness is a scientifically proven method of reducing stress and calming your mind. 

There are dozens of quick exercises to choose from. One of our favorites is a simple observational exercise.

To practice it, just sit comfortably and gaze out at your surroundings. Focus intently on what you can see, hear, and feel. 

Now, either out loud or in your mind, slowly list 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, and 5 things you can feel. 

It’s best to be as descriptive as possible, for instance instead of “I see a car” you could say “I see a green SUV with black roof racks and shiny tires.”

After you have completed this, pick one thing, and observe it for two minutes. Focus in with as much awareness as you can and just simply observe.