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How to Calm Yourself Down When You’re Surrounded by Other People

We’ve all been there; suddenly stressed and needing a few minutes to calm down. But it is not easy to find “space” for a time out when you’re with a group of people. This is especially true if you don’t want those around you to realize you are in an agitated state.

The agitation could be due to the arrival of someone unexpected. Maybe you heard something disturbing, or possibly you need to think in response to a question you were asked. It could be any of a million reasons, but you feel the agitation and stress increasing, and you desperately want to calm down.

Mindfulness brings us to the present, to the here and now. It allows our bodies and minds to rest by bringing all our attention to the moment. There is no past and no future in the moment. You enter a stress free mental space that has no expectations.

By engaging in a mindful moment, you can remove the pressure and stress you are feeling, giving your body and mind a few minutes of refreshing calm. The calm quiets and relaxes so you are better able to handle yourself, think things through and come to terms with your situation.

Here are seven ways to quickly calm down when you are not alone.

Play with the Pet

Cuddle the cat or pat the dog. If there isn’t a pet where you are, look at some pictures of your pet, or the pet of a friend. By focusing on the pet you’ll be bringing your mind to their personalities, their quirks, their size, their lovable big eyes, and taking yourself away from your stressors.

Do Something in the Kitchen

There is always something that can be done in the kitchen, even if you are in someone else’s home. A few minutes can be spent washing some dishes, straightening up the things on the counter or drying some dishes and folding the dishtowel. Focusing on these simple tasks will give you a breather from what’s on your mind.

Go to the Bathroom

This is always a “me-time” so take your time in there, even if you don’t have to “go.” Look around, focus on the towels or on the soap. Look at the shapes, sizes and textures. Check if the toilet paper rolls from the top or the bottom, if it’s a full roll or almost empty. By focusing your thoughts on these visuals, you’ll give yourself a short mental break from what is going on outside the bathroom.

Search Through or Clean out Your Purse

There is always something to do in your purse. It’s a treasure of old receipts, discarded candy/gum wrappers and used tissues. And your wallet probably has bills that need organizing, and credit cards upside down. Give yourself a break from the conversation by pretending to be looking for something in your purse and putting it in order.

Rearrange Something

Something always needs straightening up, even in someone else’s home. Fold something, straighten the picture frames, rearrange the items on the side tables. These simple tasks give us the opportunity to focus away from our thoughts and onto the task at hand.

No one will think it odd that you are doing this if you keep a smile on your face. They will probably thank you for your help. How good is that, a few refreshing moments along with some gratitude. And if you can’t find something to fuss over, fuss with your outfit. You can always pick off some lint, straighten your seams, re-tie any laces or belts and even check your buttons.

Refill Something

It is easy to find something to refill wherever you are. It can be the toilet paper/tissue/paper towel dispensers, the air freshener, the cat/dog water bowl or the sugar dish. You can even water the plants.

Look around, you’ll find something that needs attention. And chances are the products, like soap and toilet paper, are under the sink or easy to find. Doing these simple tasks gives your mind a rest as you are focusing on unscrewing caps and deciding if the toilet paper should roll clockwise or not.

Count Something

Count anything. There are so many options here, even counting everything. How many items are on the table, on the floor, in the room? How many buttons are on your clothes; how many corner edges on the table, what about the number of panels on the wall? The possibilities are endless. Keep a smile on your face and no one will realize you aren’t paying attention.

Finding a bit of space for a few minutes of mental rest will help you get through a stressful situation. Mindful moments will improve your ability to handle your stressors and awkward moments. You will return mentally refreshed and better able to handle your situation.

And no one will even realize you took a short break. But they will notice that you seem more relaxed, even happier. You’ll probably be smiling! It’s all good!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do you do to calm yourself down when you are feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed? What have you found most helpful in these situations? Do you use mindfulness techniques in other areas of your life? Please share in the comments and join the conversation.

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This article opened some avenues that I hadn’t thought of. I live in an apartment in a non-profit Independant Living building with approximately 100 individuals. We have a meal together during the day and oft times a difficult person makes a rude comment. You have given me several ways to take to be in my own space.
Thank you
Happy Easter to you Margaret and all your 60 and Me clan
A young 83 year old in Canada🎶🙏🏻


Happy Easter Sandra and wishing you a peaceful day – from another Sandra in London, England

The Author

About Perley-Ann Friedman, The Happy Cat. I now live on Koh Lanta, a small island in southern Thailand. I am enjoying my alternative lifestyle as I ease into retirement. I’m in my 60s, healthy, active, have red hair and totally love cats. I’ve consciously chosen to be positive and to continuously grow as I journey through life. Visit me at

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