“A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.” – Wayne Dyer
Difficult boss. Screaming kids. Looming deadlines. Relationship problems.
Whatever your stressor, it will leave you feeling overwhelmed, powerless and unproductive. Turbulent emotions often mean that you pay less attention to working creatively, productively and efficiently. Take charge and empower yourself to deal with these feelings so they don’t get in the way of your goals. Learning to calm yourself effectively and immediately will give you clarity of thought and the conviction to take sound decisions.
In fact, the ability to resist emotional urges and outbursts actually improves your performance and productivity. One of the best ways to keep your mind stable and calm, especially when you’re looking to focus on getting back to productive work is to centre yourself by meditating.
The next time you’re in a blank state of unproductively, fixed in-place by stress, try this chanting meditation:
Select an appropriate phrase, prayer or affirmation that inspires and uplifts you. Examples of affirmations you can chant include:
I believe in myself and my decisions.
I accept the challenges of the world.
I can change my world.
I have unlimited potential
I am destined to succeed.
Sit comfortably on a mat or chair, or even lie down. Keep your shoulders and body relaxes. Close your eyes, take a few breaths to ground and centre yourself.
Repeat your chant slowly, pay close attention to the sounds you make as you chant. Keep a steady beat as you inhale or exhale as you chant.
Redirect stray thoughts and try to bring them gently back to the affirmation.
When you are ready, come out of the meditation by taking a few deep breaths. Observe your internal landscape. How do you feel?
Practical Strategies to Help You Calm Down
When you focus on staying calm, a funny thing happens. Your brain starts zooming out of the problem and putting it into context. Readjusting your perspective helps you gauge the problem rationally instead of blowing it out of proportion. When you come back to a situation with a clear perspective about what you want, you get back some of that control you lost when you were overwhelmed.
Step back. Get away from the aggravating situation or person. Focus on something else. Meditate. Breathe. The extra oxygen will do you a world of good. Experts say that in times of stress, the reduced oxygen to your brain drives your brain to freeze and trigger a primitive fight or flight response. Breathing deeply will replenish your brain supplies allowing you to look at the situation more rationally. And force yourself to smile – a fake smile will make you feel better just as a real one will.
Do something else. It could be as simple as a shower. Do mundane things. Some people clean as a way to get their heads in order. Cook, if you like. Go do some yard work. Doodle – it’s a wonderful stress reliever. A change of pace, activity or scenery will instantly take your mind off whatever is bothering you.
A study at Stanford found that people who multitask are prone to distractions and decreased focus when working on a task. The “busy” feeling of multi tasking is just a facade. The constant distraction may make you feel like you’re getting more done, but in reality, you are far less productive than you hope to be.
Blast some music. Sing along if you’re feeling bold – the louder the better. It is no secret that music helps people calm down. Sing loud, off key and do the chicken dance. There is no way you can be upset while you’re being that silly.
Speaking of the chicken dance, a dance workout is an excellent way to improve your mood. So is running. Moving vigorously will clear your mind, pump some endorphins and have you feeling better in no time. Another great way to get moving is to do a walking meditation. Go to a local park or green spot. As you walk, breathe in the fresh air and drink in the sights and sounds of nature.
Engage a friend.
Have a “bitchin’ buddy”. A girlfriend of mine and I made a pact years ago. Instead of harassing our family members, significant other or random friends who may or may not want to listen to us raging, we would reach out to each other to vent. The mutually beneficial arrangement kept our other relationships sane and lending a sympathetic ear to each other drew us closer as friends.
Grab a piece of paper, set a timer to five and write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t censor or edit. Don’t try to make sense of what you are writing, just keep the pen moving on the paper. Julia Cameron, author of “The Artists Way” suggests writing three pages every morning to free up your creative energy and help you think without inhibitions. For those of you that prefer typing to writing, try 750 words.
Staying calm in the middle of a difficult situation can give you the insight that someone who is worked up may not have. It makes you productive, focussed and gives you clarity of thought to put your larger goals into perspective so that you’re winning the war, not just the battle.
Quite frankly, staying calm makes you very powerful.