4 Easy Mind Tricks That Can Help You Perk Up and Let Go of Stress Fast

Juggling everything from a daunting new work project to never-ending duties on the homefront, you find yourself so stressed that you’re almost…numb. When we grapple with extreme tension or anxiety, our mind and body often start to shut down to try to protect us from further hurt. But when the two halves of ourselves aren’t working in concert to cue calm, our stress levels ramp up even more. One of the best ways to heal this disconnect and find relief from toxic stress is through attunement, coming into alignment with yourself and others. So what is attunement? Keep reading to learn more about how it can help you.

What is attunement?

Attunement is the simple process of regulating your stress levels to make you feel happier and more connected to yourself and others. “This process starts with self-attunement, feeling the sensations in your body and asking yourself what your emotional state is,” says Thomas Hübl, PhD, visiting scholar at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and author of Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma — and Our World.

“Like placing your hand in a river, self-attunement means feeling your own ‘data flow’ within your system.” Once we truly tune into ourselves, we’re able to listen to our needs and pinpoint strategies to alleviate stress. This journey to greater serenity may start within the self, but its ultimate destination is interpersonal attunement: “the capacity of the nervous system to be in alignment with another person’s nervous system,” explains Hübl. “Much like we connect to music, interpersonal attunement brings our brain waves in sync with someone else’s to make both of us feel more relaxed.”

Indeed, regulating our own stress levels, opens our hearts and minds and deepens our empathy, which allows us to feel more attuned to others. Just read on for 4 proven ways to tune into yourself (and tune out stress!) while enjoying the ripple effects of calm created by being more in sync with the people in your life.

1. Overwhelmed? Tap the ‘Three-Sync Technique’

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Feel like you're drowning under a deluge of to-dos? While our first instinct might be to get rid of this feeling as fast as possible like a hot potato, Hübl recommends resisting this denial impulse by slowing down and taking a few deep breaths. “When you’re overloaded with stress, it helps to identify and name your inner state: ‘I feel overwhelmed’ or ‘I feel numb.’”

Tapping greater awareness of your mind, body and emotions is key to bringing all three into greater harmony and taming tension, assures Hübl. A relaxing way to do just that in one minute is through what he calls the “Three-Sync Technique.”

To do: Breathe deeply, exhaling longer to trigger the relaxation response, and tune into physical sensations. “Where do you feel warmth, tension or tingling? Are there areas of your body that feel more open or accessible than others?” Answering these simple questions helps you feel more grounded and less overwhelmed.

Next, focus on your emotions: Are you anxious or joyful? Could there be something deeper lurking beneath these feelings like a bit of numbness or grief? “Finally, tune into the quality of your mind — how curious and relaxed it feels — rather than the individual thoughts.” Gathering this “data” will help all three facets of yourself feel more like one, continuous unit, so that your whole self can feel more relaxed and in control.

Related: Study: Breathing in Rose Essential Oil Eases Pain & Ushers in Calm in 90 Seconds

2. Regretful? Reflect on the ‘Karma of the Day’

Regret distances us from our very identity by making ourselves the enemy — self-blame is the opposite of “attunement” because it negates self-compassion. When your mind is spinning in circles rehashing regrets, find calm with Hübl’s “Karma of the Day”: “Take five minutes before you go to sleep to detox your mind by revisiting the any regrets you may have,” he encourages. “This helps you digest your experiences like you would a meal.”

To “cleanse” your psyche of self-blame, simply be honest with yourself: “I was ashamed when X happened,” Or, “I regret not speaking up in the work meeting.” Then bring compassion to yourself by putting your hand on your heart and reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can, and it is good enough. “Ask yourself where you feel these emotions in your body — for example, you might feel fear in your chest.”

This awareness helps prevent a repetitive spiral of regrets: “Rumination is a function of disembodied emotions — it happens when our mind is spinning without being grounded in our body. Just being aware of how your emotions affect you physically and breathing into them, helps you let go regret and remind yourself of your humanity.”

Related: Stressed? Tired of Making Decisions? Experts Share 4 Easy Ways to Give Your Brain a Break & Find Peace

3. Feeling blue? Embody joy

Sadness, and loneliness in particular, can be disorienting, making us feel out of tune not just with our emotions, but with our thoughts and sensations, as we grapple with the alienation that comes from isolation.

"To boost a blue mood, take a moment for “embodied joy,” encourages Hübl, explaining that consciously enjoying the little things, from walking your dog to feeling the sunshine on your face, for as little as five minutes a day can shift your whole system, tuning you into the present moment and helping you feel more connected not only to yourself but to others. “There’s a tremendous recharging quality to savoring the sensations of joy, be it the warmth of a cup of tea in your hands or the sound of birds singing.”

Indeed, when we feel joy with all of our senses, the smallest of moments feels bigger, as if in bold relief, reminding us of our place in the world, and reinforcing just how connected we truly are to those around us.

Related: The ‘Three Good Things’ Approach Is The Simple Balm You Need If You’re Burned Out

4. Fearful? Cut worries with ‘co-regulation’

Mind Tricks: Two women are sitting and talking. Woman psychologist practicing with patient women. Coach session between girlfriends. Therapist's gestures. Female talking and drinking a cup of tea

We tend to believe that dealing with worry and fears on our own is a mark of independence and something we should be proud of, says Hubl. “But this myth of the ‘hyper individual’ prevents the interpersonal attunement that comes from sharing our mutual fears and supporting one another.”

The next time you feel fear creeping into your thoughts, instead of denying it, consider talking about it with someone you trust. Simply expressing your worries allows your nervous system to sync up with someone else’s, which in turn “co-regulates,” or dials down, both of your stress levels, observes Hubl, who promises that this simple act can bring you closer to everyone in your life.

“For example, when my daughter tells me she’s afraid of the dark, and I tell her not to be, I’m devaluing her emotion and creating distance between us,” he says. “Instead, I should just, ‘I feel your fear.’ Only after acknowledging it on the emotional level, can we talk about rational solutions.’” Indeed, when we communicate our worries and anxieties, we’re attuning to others on a cellular level, literally bringing our nervous systems into alignment. “Our hearts open and we both feel more relaxed — this is ‘attunement,’ a gesture of togetherness, of being truly present with ourselves and others.”

Related: Hugs Have Been Study-Proven To Boost Immunity & Dramatically Lower Stress But Only If They Last *This* Long

For more on emotional health, click through the links below!

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