Experts say that the worst way to help someone calm down is to tell them to relax. Instead, you should empathize with their anxiety.

Why You Should Never Tell Someone to Relax

In All Health Watch, Anti-Aging, Cognitive Health, Featured Article, Longevity

If a friend or co-worker seems stressed, there’s one thing you should never do.

Don’t tell them to “relax.”

Not only is it annoying, but it’s likely to backfire. They will feel even more anxious, say experts.

Research shows that when you instruct someone to suppress or hide their emotions, they exhibit the emotions more strongly.1

Dr. Wendy Mendes is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a stress researcher. She says that when people are told to hold down an emotion, “it actually leaks out more.”

It’s physiologically impossible to quickly relax on command, said Dr. Mendes. You can become anxious fast. But calming down and returning to a normal state takes 20 to 60 minutes, she said.

Nancy Ancowitz is a New York City presentation and career coach. She says there’s a better approach: empathy.

The first thing you should say is, “Looks like you’re having a tough day,” said Ancowitz.

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She suggests following with an open-ended statement like, “Tell me what’s going on.”

This gives the person a chance to express their feelings rather than being forced to suppress them. Talking about the situation acts as a stress reliever and relaxes the person.

3 Words for a Calm Workplace

In 2013, MIT researchers studied 100 office meetings. They discovered three everyday words can defuse on-the-job tension.21 They are:

“Yeah”: We might think of it as slang, but researchers were surprised to find this simple word induces others to agree. It’s informal and makes them feel comfortable. Scientists theorize that using the word “yeah” makes the recipient feel you understand them. This makes you seem agreeable and calms the other person.

“Give”: Any form of the word, including “giving” or “given” provides co-workers with a sense of belonging to the group. The researchers used the example of starting a sentence with “Given these parameters…”

“Give” provides a sense of common ground or community with fellow workers. This defuses tension.

“Start”: Researchers found this word creates quick agreement among co-workers. It allows everyone to show their desire to be productive and valuable to the team. The researchers suggest starting off a conversation or meeting with a question like, “Shouldn’t we start with the most important parts?” This rapidly builds an agreeable alliance between the speaker and listener.

5-Minute Secret to Beat Stress

And if you are the one who is stressed out, Harvard University researchers suggest a simple but powerful breathing exercise to quickly lessen tension.3

First, sit in a quiet, comfortable location. Take a normal breath.

Then take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, making sure your chest and lower belly expand as you completely fill your lungs. Breathe out slowly through your mouth.

Now close your eyes. Continue taking slow, deep breaths and think of an image that makes you happy. It could be a loved one or a place you enjoy.

After five minutes, you’ll feel calmer and more focused.

One more thing… If you go to your doctor and complain of chronic anxiety, the chances are you’ll walk away with a prescription for tranquilizers. Avoid them. These medications can be dangerous and addicting.

Instead, try this natural, calming herb. It’s effective and completely safe.

In Good Health,

Angela Salerno
Executive Director, INH Health Watch

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