Daily Practice

How to Calm Down in 4 Minutes

Image credit: Gary Larson - The Far Side

Ever felt stressed out, anxious, worried, or overwhelmed? Need to know how to calm down?

Unless you’re a robot, you’ve probably been hit hard with a fair share of stressful moments that knock you down and ruin your day. Here's how to calm down in 4 minutes flat.

Maybe you’re already running on empty. Maybe you’re on a deadline with way too much going on in your head and you get hit with a passive aggressive email from your boss that just pushes you off the edge and makes you think something like…

“I can’t handle all of this!”

“I have so much to do I don’t even know where to start.”

“I’m freaking the F&$% out, man…”

“I feel like I’m drowning.”

“I’m pissed off all the time!”

Know what I’m talking about?

I constantly felt this way for YEARS...

I felt this way for so long that I actually got used to it. It felt like my new normal.

I was in a high-paying, high-stress job with a lot of responsibilities and an endless quota. I was 24, and had made a million dollars in my career already. I justified it by “working hard and playing hard.”

I did what any single 24 year old guy in this situation would do — go wild with the money. I bought a $106,000 Mercedes, traveled first class all over the country, went to every major sporting event, and got backstage tickets to concerts.

I thought this would make me happy. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. And it didn’t negate the fact that I was extremely stressed out from work. Since I never let my mind shut off, I was beyond burnt out.

You know the “Sunday Scaries”? Yeah that was my everyday life.

I thought that making more money would solve the problem, so I worked longer, harder, and faster. The work just kept speeding up, and the play was speeding up, too. I was partying harder than ever, but I was absolutely miserable. And the spending continued.

One of the breaking points for me was sitting at the Super Bowl (in a $13,000 seat, mind you) next to Kevin Durant.... but I didn’t even feel like I was there. I took a picture with him and, of course, posted it on Instagram.

Yeah, I had a smile on my face, but I was anything but happy.

All I could do was check my phone constantly, thinking about how many likes and comments my photo was getting. I had the best seat in the house, but I missed the game because I was too busy staring at my screen. I missed what was one of the best Super Bowls ever.

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you been at a concert or at dinner with friends but you are more focused on who did or didn’t like your posts? You’re physically there, but mentally so far away.

The thoughts in our head become a prison if we let them. 

I remember flying to the NBA All-Star Game and thinking, “The only reason I’m going on this trip is so I can post an Instagram photo. What am I doing with my life?”

I thought, “Is this how I want to live and work for the next 30 years of my life?”

I was so caught up in everything going on, and constantly seeking validation from others, so much so that I was never actually “THERE.”

“If you’ve ever found yourself literally screaming at your computer because your WiFi connection isn’t strong enough to send an email, you know what I’m talking about.”

I’d be on vacation thinking about my friends at home. I’d be at work thinking about home, and be at home thinking about work.

Here’s the problem:

I was never taught how to manage my thoughts & emotions.

I couldn’t handle everything being thrown at me. It was too much, too fast, too often. I just wanted to sell my stuff and move to Bali.

I was in this constant cycle of reacting to everything around me.

When you run at a baseline of super high stress all the time, the smallest things can put you over the edge. If you’ve ever found yourself literally screaming at your computer because your WiFi connection isn’t strong enough to send an email, you know what I’m talking about.

Life doesn’t have to be like this.

If you’re feeling stuck in the rat race and the noise of it all, here are three truths and my go-to method for creating chill amid the chaos and how to calm down.

Truth #1: We all have problems, but those problems are almost always bigger in our head than in real life.

When you’re able to put things in perspective — when you’re able to differentiate between true struggle and every day B.S. — you feel grateful. You feel alive! You realize your problems are smaller than you make them out to be.

Truth #2: It’s possible to have a lot going on, but still feel calm and clear headed.

When you feel calm inside, what’s happening OUTSIDE doesn’t affect you nearly as much. You don’t have to quit your high pressure job to finally feel a sense of calm. 

As you level up inside, you’re able to feel better about your outside conditions. The key is in learning how to “be here now.” When you’re at work, be at work. But when you leave and you’re with your friends, be with your friends. 

Truth #3: Life is supposed to be fun.

It seems the older we get the less fun we have. I don’t know about but that is NOT how I want to lead the next 30 something years. 

We are so anti-fun as adults that we literally have to schedule it into our calendars. Fun should be a reflex, yet, we treat it like a reward system, and most of the time we’re just depriving ourselves. 

We mistakenly are told to believe fun can only exist when you have no problems. Life isn't about avoiding problems. It’s about having more fun while you solve them.

When life feels chaotic and you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s a simple way to calm down and feel better in minutes.

This method is so simple, you can start using it today.
  • You don't need to be spiritual.
  • You don’t have to rub crystals together or burn sage in your living room.
  • You don’t need tarot cards or a full moon either.

This is a huge help for how to calm down during those times when you feel like you just need a break, need to pop a Xanax — when you’re just completely freaking out... spiraling.

I call it the SHIFT method.

You can apply use this method anywhere, anytime; whether you're in the car, at your desk at work, in the airport bathroom, or waiting in line at Starbucks.

In 5 simple steps, you can shift an otherwise crappy day into a clear, fun, fulfilling day, without worrying about the past or feeling overwhelmed by the future.

As I’m sure you’re already guessed, “SHIFT” is an acronym for these 5 steps. Ready for ‘em? Ok then...here they are:

S is for “Sit up straight.”

The first step is to sit up straight. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Sit in a chair, or on the floor against a wall if it’s more comfortable. Just make sure you’re not slumped over.

You actually can stand if you want too… the big idea here is just to change your current state — if you’re sitting in your office chair when you receive some bad news, stand up and shake it off. 

If you’re lying in your bed and you start feeling anxious, sit up and start to calm down.

Change your state and move. 

Got it? Looking great.

H is for “Hear yourself out.”

Now, what’s coming up for you mentally? Hear yourself out.

Whatever thoughts or worries are running a hundred miles an hour through in your brain, pass them the mic. What's your current problem? What's really frustrating you?

Maybe it's a conversation you really want to have with your boss or your girlfriend. Or maybe you’ve simply been freaking out internally for the past few days over EVERYTHING.

Do you have all of the information, or are you creating a fictional story.

Whatever’s coming up for you, let it all out. If doing so makes you feel uncomfortable, weird, or angry – you’re doing it right. 

“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.”

I know this isn’t easy. I get it. But you’ve got this.

As a dude, I was trained to shove my emotions and fears deep down. Letting it out is only encouraged when farting up a storm next to your friends.

Digestive turbulence from scarfing nachos? Chill.

Mental turbulence? Unacceptable.

Just pretend it’s not happening.

I spent too much of my life subscribing to unhealthy stereotypes. When I finally decided to give in to my suffering and allow myself to feel and process it, my life got easier. 

Playing into gender stereotypes is as outdated as it is emotionally crippling. You do not want to be the person who defers to numbing their pain instead of working through it moving past it. This is 2020 – we’re not ashamed of emotional range anymore.

Don’t shove your emotions down, show up to them.

I is for “Inhale.”

Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose and slowly exhaling through your mouth. Feel your chest rise slightly with each inhale. Repeat this process several times, slowly to calm down.

Follow these body cues to get powerful with your breathwork:

  1. Drop your shoulders.
  2. Unclench your jaw.⁣
  3. Relax your forehead.⁣
  4. Flatten your hands.⁣
  5. Breathe in.
  6. Breathe out. ⁣

Your breath is your most accessible tool, and it can act as an anchor when things feel chaotic and out of control. Breath gives us back our power.

You know when you’re anxious and your entire body tenses up? All of a sudden your breathing gets faster, your hands are clammy, and shit....now you’re having a full blown panic attack.

Intentional breathing helps us counter the physiological responses that come with intense emotions like anxiety, depression, or fear. You can use breath to not only release tough emotions but to experience serious calm.

“During stressful moments, conscious breathing allows you to shift and release negative energy instead of storing it in your body. This is important, because stored-up energy often manifests as muscle tension and other physical ailments. Breath work has other benefits, too. It can increase alertness and oxygen flow and allow your body to release toxins more readily.” — Laura A. Peterson, R.N. Mayo Clinic

F is for “File it away.”

Unorganized thoughts pile up like dirty laundry. Nobody wants to navigate their thoughts in a crammed mental space reminiscent of a TLC Hoarders episode. This step is here to help you make space for clarity, focus, and chill.

This is where you take the problem, put it in a manilla filing folder, title it and store it.

Some problems are in a next week folder, the tomorrow folder, and others can be permanently deleted. The filing system is yours to create, the main goal is that you organize.

Say to yourself, “I am putting this away for now” and visualize putting it in a filing cabinet in your brain. Your filing cabinet can look like that clunky one in your parents garage or a sleek West Elm birchwood 3 drawer. Whatever works for you, visualize it and file.

What this visualization allows you to do is take a break from worrying about what you can’t control in the present moment and calm dowbn. Filing away is really organizing your chaos, it helps you compartmentalize the clutter in your brain that’s disturbing your peace today.

I've had those thoughts where I'm dreading something I have to do on Friday that I really don't want to do. I tell myself it's okay to address this on Friday but for now, I'm going to file that feeling for later.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli

T is for “Trust yourself and move forward."

One of my favorite quotes is, “If your life wasn’t going to work out, it would have fallen apart already.”

You've made it this far. You're still here, right? Things are going to work out and you need to trust yourself. Trust that you will move forward.

If life wasn't gonna work out, it would've happened already. You're still here. You're reading this. Ever heard of the 5 by 5 rule? If it's not going to matter in five years, don't spend more than five minutes being upset about it.


1. It’s normal to feel stressed out.
2. It’s OK to take a time-out to calm down.
3. When you’re feeling stressed, take a quick 4-minute break.

Remember the SHIFT Method:

S- Sit up straight and set a timer

H - Hear yourself out — let whatever is bugging you come up.

I - Inhale — Breathing deeply lets your mind and body relax.

F - File it away — learn to organize your thoughts and put them in the right folder.

T - Trust that it’s all going to work out — you’re stronger than whatever your current problem is.

Here’s the bottom line for how to calm down:

In my old job, my life was maxed out and I felt stress and anxiety all the time.

I thought I needed to leave in order to find any kind of balance.

After I left and started my own business, I was still stressed… Things popped up, worries came up, things happened…

It’s when I started using the SHIFT method that I was able to completely turn my life around. I’m not constantly on edge anymore. I finally know what it feels like to be relaxed, and yeah, it is all it’s cracked up to be.

You know what feels great? Not feeling miserable. With the SHIFT method, I’ve been able to gain the confidence I never had before. I feel more fulfilled, and I have deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Oh, and if I’m at a sporting event, you better believe I’m present and paying way more attention to the game than my phone. Finally, I’m living life in the moment.

And you can too.

What’s next?

If you're interested in going deeper, I have a free training I've recorded that will help you understand the THREE people holding you back from enjoying your life... I call it a "happiness how-to manual." Click the button below to register and save your spot.

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