Keep Calm and Carry On...But How?
Keep Calm And Carry On…..But How?
By now we are all familiar with the whole “Keep Calm” movement. T-shirts abound, with the phrase changed to suit every interest or lifestyle. But Keeping Calm is easier said than done. The other day, I observed a woman become completely and totally relaxed during yoga class, but within 45 minutes of entering the “real” world, she was riddled with stress and anxiety. She is not alone. Often times, I hear clients talk about how they are capable of entering these deep states of calm, peace, and relaxation while engaged in yoga, meditation, or some other activity that they enjoy, like exercise. But, once they re-engage with family members, their work life or daily stressors, they come undone again. So many people are searching for a way to lead a calmer and more peaceful life, to maintain the gains of their calming practices in the face of real-life stressors, but they just aren’t sure how.
Here are some tips for how to transfer those gains to your “real” life.
1. Visualize: When you find yourself becoming stressed, close your eyes and conjure up that experience when you were utterly calm. Use all of your senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, and feel. Take a moment to recreate the experience in your mind. Take a deep breath and return with that same feeling as you proceed with your day. Repeat as often as necessary.
2. Breathe: Try breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths with your exhale longer than your inhale helps to shut down the body’s stress responses. Close your eyes, put your hands on your belly, and breathe. The belly should expand with every inhale and relax with every exhale. Breathe in and out through the nose.
If you want to try something different, try using an Ujjayi breath (pronounced oo-jai) often referred to as ocean breath because it sounds like the waves on the ocean. Close your mouth, place your tongue to the roof of your mouth causing a gentle restriction at the back of the throat. While breathing in and out of your nose, you should feel and hear the breath at the back of the throat. I’ve had teachers also refer to it as Darth Vader breath because of its sound. Concentrate on making that sound as you breathe and relax. The breath should relax you like listening to the waves crashing on the beach. Go to http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/768 for more information.
3. Monitor and Adjust Your Inner Dialogue: Cognitive psychologists believe that thoughts precede our emotions and that what we are thinking will then lead to what we are feeling. So, when we are relaxed we are having a certain quality of thought that allows us to become relaxed and when we are stressed, we are having an entirely different quality of thought that activates our sympathetic nervous system. When you notice yourself losing your calm, check in with your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? If someone you loved were saying that, how would you respond to them? How would you correct their thinking? Now respond that way to yourself. We are often kinder and gentler to our friends and family members. We should show ourselves the same compassion in our own thinking.
4. Moving Meditation: Meditation is a great way to lower your stress levels, but did you know that you can do it on the go? That’s right. Meditation does not have to be seated or even silent or with your eyes clothes. A popular style of meditation is walking meditation and you can do this anytime. All you have to do is focus your attention on the movement. You can choose to focus on one aspect of the movement, such as picking your foot up off the floor or placing it down again or if moving quickly, you can focus on the whole process of the movement. But there are other moving meditations too, like yoga, running, swimming, bagging groceries, doing laundry etc… If you feel your mind filled with negative self-talk or body revving up with anxiety, turn your attention to what it is at hand. What are you doing? Focus all your attention on just that one thing. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your action. Observe without judgment and be in the present moment.
5. Be Patient: When introducing calming strategies into your life, it takes time for them to trickle over to the rest of your life. In the beginning, it can be normal to start reaching these states of clam and relaxation while actively practicing them and then to have difficulty with them in real-life scenarios. With repeated practice, a commitment to a calmer lifestyle, and conscious effort to employ this state of being outside your traditional practice, it will begin to generalize to your everyday life. You may not even realize it until people in your life start commenting on it!”Wow, your so calm!”
So Keep Calm and Carry On….and now you know How. Let me know how it goes!