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How to Relax: Tips for Calming your Mind

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“The greater the level of calmness of our mind, the greater our peace of mind, the greater our ability to enjoy a happy and joyful life.”

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

It is easy to feel overstimulated and overwhelmed in our busy lives. We have so many items to check-off on our to-do list. And on the rare occasion when we’ve ticked them all off, the ways that we finally “relax” can often feel unsatisfying. Do you really feel rested after binge watching a Netflix show or scrolling through Instagram for hours? Do you feel anxious when you finally slow down after a day filled with adrenaline, stimulation, and distraction? If you’ve ever felt this way, then this article is for you.

It is possible to live a productive and fulfilling existence without feeling as if you are constantly in survival mode. In fact, cultivating a state of calm will most likely lead to a more productive, creative, and rewarding life. Keep reading to learn the benefits of being calm and some of the ways you can achieve this peaceful state.

What are the benefits of a calm mind?

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“Many people think excitement is happiness . . . but when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

A calm state lends to clarity of mind, better focus, increased problem-solving skills, enhanced creativity, and so much more. Not only does this positively impact your work and productivity but cultivating a calm mind also allows for deeper connection with others. Being calm gives you the opportunity for reflection, patience, and understanding, all of which are essential for building relationships. And when you’re calm your emotions won’t cloud your better judgement. A calm mind can drastically change your well-being and life.

12 ways of calming the mind and body

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  1. Meditating
    • Meditation has so many powerful benefits and it is completely free! A regular meditation practice is great for mental health, relaxing the nervous system, improving sleep, decreasing blood pressure, increasing focus, and improving overall well-being. Read our blog post on the scientific benefits of meditation to learn more or try a 5-minute meditation to begin.
  2. Breathing exercises
    • By using your breath, you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, slow your heart rate, and find peace. There are many types of breathing exercises in addition to the classic deep breathing. However, they all aid in stress relief and increasing relaxation. Check out this list to learn more.
    • One of the most popular breathing exercises for anxiety is box breathing. This involves breathing in for four seconds, holding your breathe for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, and then holding your breathe for four seconds before repeating the sequence.
  3. Slow down regular activities
    • Slowing down your daily activities can bring inner peace and a sense of calm. To “slow down” means living in a state of calm—without worrying about what you need to do next—and being present with the task at hand. Instead of rushing through the dishes, all the while thinking of what you need to do next, stay in the moment and take your time. You’ll feel much better both during and after the task.
  4. Avoid multi-tasking
    • Try to avoid multi-tasking when possible and truly focus your attention on the task at hand; this way you reduce stress, boost mental health, enjoy the activity more, and avoid burn out. “Focusing on one thing at a time with one’s full attention can help promote efficiency and calmness amidst activity,” says Supriya Blair, PsyD.
    • Stanford University found that too much multi-tasking negatively impacts long-term memory and working memory; and that heavier media multi-tasking is associated with attention lapses and forgetfulness. By focusing our attention on one activity we are both improving the quality of our immediate experience and positively impact our long-term health.
  5. Chat with a family member or friend
    • If you’re in a stressful situation or working through a problem, talking to a trusted family member or friend may help. Make sure to choose someone who can listen without judgment and make you feel heard. Sometimes you don’t even need advice, just saying the words out loud and having someone listen can be enough.
  6. Listen to a stress relief playlist
    • Youtube, Spotify, Insight Timer, and many other apps offer stress relief playlists for those suffering from anxiety, depression, or stress. Ranging from thunderstorm soundtracks to relaxing jazz, there is something for everyone.
    • You can also use a binaural beats playlist to reduce stress, increase focus, and have a calming effect. Binaural beats are when two tones are played simultaneously at two different frequencies, typically with the use of headphones. Researchers have found that this can change your brain activity and positively affect your brain waves to increase your relaxation and focus.
  7. Practice yoga
    • Like meditation, yoga is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to elevate wellness. A regular yoga practice can lower cortisol levels and therefore reduce stress, boost mental health, improve sleep, and increase neuroplasticity.
    • There are many different types of yoga and each one offers something unique. Yin yoga—holding a posture for several minutes and using deep breathing—is great when you want to feel grounded and crave stillness. If you have lots of anxious energy that needs to be released perhaps a dynamic Vinyasa flow is the perfect fit. You can play with all the types of yoga that interest you and see which works best.
  8. Get a massage
    • If you have the money and time, treat yourself to a massage! Massages do much more than release muscle knots, research has shown that massages can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve mood, increase relaxation, and reduce stress.
    • If you can’t afford a massage at a spa, get a foam roller or grab even a tennis ball and give yourself a massage; you will be rewarded with the same benefits; or you may have a trusted friend or partner who is a trained masseuse.
  9. Enjoy a cup of tea
    • Chamomile tea is a popular choice for many people seeking to improve sleep and reduce stress. It is best to drink chamomile tea in the evening as it tends to have a drowsy effect.
    • If you are looking for a tea to calm the nerves during the day, try a green or black tea; both are rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that eases anxiety and stress. However, it won’t make you sleepy since green and black tea have caffeine, so the effect is more of a balanced focus and a calm state of alertness. If you aren’t a fan of tea, you can also take a L-theanine supplement.
  10. Go for a walk outside
    • An often forgotten way to relieve stress is to simply walk outside. This combines exercise, sunlight (if you’re lucky), and the healing powers of the outdoors, all of which are a great recipe for improving mood and increasing relaxation.
    • If you are able to walk barefoot, that can be even better. Connecting to the earth is great for mental health and many studies have shown that walking barefoot or “earthing” can reduce chronic fatigue, boost immunity, and improving sleep.
  11. Practice gratitude
    • Gratitude is a powerful tool for grounding in the present moment and cultivating happiness. There are many ways to practice gratitude: verbally expressing it to a family member or close friend, meditating on gratitude, or creating a list of things you’re grateful for.
  12. Help someone in need
    • This last one may seem counterintuitive. Why help someone else when you are the one who is anxious? Research shows that those who spend more time in the service to others are less likely to suffer from depression, physical pains, and experience greater calm. So while helping others may seem like a selfless act, it is really a great form of self-care!

Disclaimer: This post is not medical advice. Before taking on specific meditation techniques or other treatments for a psychological or health problem, please consult a psychologist or medical professional regarding your specific health conditions.



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