Home Social-Emotional Learning Five Tools to Cultivate Calm

Five Tools to Cultivate Calm

by Miguel Guhlin

Feeling down and want to boost your positive emotions? Or maybe you want to cheer up a colleague or a student who may be feeling blue. Let’s explore some of the ways we can de-stress and enjoy calm.

Compare the above sound to others featured in this blog entry. Which is more calming?

What the Brain Says

To lift yourself out of a funk, you have to cultivate certain emotions. You can train your brain to not jump to sad emotions or fear. Instead, you can teach yourself to interpret bodily reactions to circumstances. This could mean focusing on positive emotions.

One way to do this is to have experiences that help you make sense of the immediate future. As appears in this National Public Radio (NPR) article, you can change your perceptions:

“Your brain uses memories from the past in order to create the present,” says Barrett. “It’s bringing knowledge from the past to make sense of the immediate future. This, then, becomes your present.”

Neuroscientists call this “the predictive brain.” “You can, in fact, modify what you feel in very direct ways,” she says.

The end result of this is that you can rewire your brain, developing emotions now that you want to have in the future. When you start to have a negative emotion, you can then replace it with a positive one.

To do that, you will want to explore different apps and websites that can assist you in rewiring your brain.

brain boost

Tool #1: NPR’s Joy Generator

Use the free Joy Generator to “boost happiness by taking time for small moments of delight.” The Joy Generator makes it easier for you to do this. It does this by offering random experiences, such as listening to the call of the wild, and more.

Try it out now.

Tool #2: Anti-Stress Sounds

Did you know that eustress is good stress, while distress is bad stress? You can dispel some distress by the sounds you listen to. Here’s are some anti-distress sounds you can put on when looking to cut stress:

Also, don’t be afraid (if you have Amazon Echo) to invite Alexa to play soothing Relaxing Sounds. The collection includes a variety of sounds that can help mitigate stress.

brain boosters

Tool #3: Restful Websites to Help You De-Stress

Try Pixel Thoughts to identify stressful thinking that is plaguing you. It follows a simple recipe:

  • Breathe in
  • Breathe out
  • Listen to a series of calming statements

As it does this, the stressful thought appears to shrink on the screen as you watch and a calming tune plays in the background. The idea is that your stress disappears as the image of the sun shrinks.

Shrink your stress now.

Did You Know?

TCEA offers a virtual yoga course to help you relax. Register now for TCEA’s Cultivating Calm, an online, self-paced course.

brain boosters

Tool #4: Virtual Drawings and Paintings

I have always heard that painting can relieve stress. You get lost in the swash of colors and gradients. The following two websites make virtual painting so much easier. Now, before you stress out over the word “painting,” relax. This is not about being Van Goh, but rather about losing yourself in the wash of colors that appear on screen. They are all under your control.

Make your own creation now on your iOS device ($2.99).

brain boosters

Tool #5: Bird Songs

There’s nothing so relaxing as bird song in the background. Put this on, even if you are listening to something else (e.g. Zoom call, podcast). It is incredibly calming. I found myself relaxing one morning at work when I found that, by accident, I had left bird song on an open browser tab. Combine those sounds with BeeGees’ How Deep is Your Love, and you may slip into a coma of good feeling.

What are some ways that you use nature, sounds, or art to boost your brain with positive emotions?

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