1. Notice when you’re NOT calm!
- Physical tension
- Mental tension
- Adrenal fatigue
2. Make a decision.
- Do I want to be calm?
- How do I want to feel instead of how I’m feeling now?
- Beware of secondary gain
3. Take action to feel how you want to feel.
- Physicality affects psychology
- LET GO!
Your body and mind give you countless clues when you’re heading for physical and mental trouble, but do you know how to hear or interpret these messages? Are you paying attention, or are you blinded by what’s ‘normal’ for you and for society?
Now’s the time to start noticing, and to take your physical and mental health seriously. The old saying is true, “Without your health, you have nothing.” Yet how many of us make it our priority before something goes amiss? It’s time to put your wellbeing at the top of your priority list.
3 Steps to Calm gives you the first crucial steps in taking control of your own wellbeing. Without calm, we don’t notice the cries for help with which our bodies and minds try to grab our attention. It’s time to listen and respond to these cries - before it’s too late.
Step 1: Notice
It may seem ridiculously obvious when spelt out in black and white, but the first, most important step in becoming calm, is to notice when you’re not. Only when you realise you’re not feeling as you’d like to feel, are you in a position to make change.
Our ‘normal’ is exactly that – our accustomed, habitual way of being. Usually we don’t even question it because it’s an ingrained part of our self-identity. So how do we recognise ways of being which are so familiar to us, they seem like they are us?
Notice physiological red flags. Feel the tension in your body throughout the day. Here are some red flags to pay attention to:
- Tight neck and shoulders
- Tension headaches
- Hunched or caved-in posture
It’s not ‘normal’ to have chronic neck and shoulder tension.
It’s not ‘normal’ to get tension headaches or have an aching back.
It’s not ‘normal’ to hold your shoulders up around your ears, or to hold yourself hunched over or caved in.
We don’t usually pay attention to our mental state until it becomes a problem. Some warning signs to look for:
- Brain fuzz – being unable to think clearly
- Irritability or anxiety
- Constantly busy mind
Mental discipline has many layers, and is a lifetime study and practice. In our western society, mental business is often glamorised. It’s seen as a sign of intelligence, quickness, and prompting exciting new ideas; a sign of an innovative mind and healthy IQ. People say with pride: “I can’t meditate. My mind is too active.”
Wrong. That’s nothing to be proud of. Your mind’s a wild, willful, powerful force that will run away with you if you don’t control it, causing sleeplessness, anxiety, worry, preoccupation and disquiet. The sooner you learn some mental discipline, the better.
It’s also not ‘normal’ to be running on adrenaline all day to the point where you feel exhausted and depleted. How do you feel at the end of the day? Naturally tired is one thing. Depleted and exhausted quite another.
Some red flags alerting you to the fact that you’re running on the adrenal path to burnout:
- Feeling exhausted and depleted at the end of the day
- Feeling tired and worn when you wake up
- Feeling like you need stimulants for energy, or to wind down – coffee, alcohol, sugar, other drugs.
Running on adrenaline can feel fun and exciting for a while, but if you don’t get off the hamster wheel, it’s a steady road downhill. It takes a very long time to recuperate from adrenal exhaustion – if ever. Recuperation requires significant lifestyle change.
You’ll be more efficient and effective if you come off the adrenal high and stay calm, even when surrounded by the chaos and demands of a modern life. Life can be equally as exciting – just not destructively so!
Step 2: Decide
It’s your decision. No one else can make it for you. Do you want to stay feeling how you’re feeling, or do you want to feel differently? Do you want to stay physically and mentally healthy, or do you want to run yourself into exhaustion, ill health and mental instability?
If you want to feel differently, how?
Be specific in your desired feeling. ‘Calm’ has many facets. Here are a few: relaxed, contented, centred, present, peaceful, present… Go ahead and add to this list if ‘calm’ means other things to you.
HINT: Here’s something to be aware of – if you find it difficult to make the decision to be calm and change your state, it often means you’re getting juice out of feeling not calm^ (however that might look, eg. angry, irritable, frantic, a sense of importance). This is called a secondary gain and it means you’re getting a pay-off for feeling that way. This can be quite subtle.
Is the payoff more important than changing your state?
Here are some examples of secondary gain which most of us have indulged in:
- Playing the Blame Game
- Being the martyr
- Shirking responsibility
- Receiving attention / sense of importance
- Playing the Victim Game
It’s OK to stay as you are.
As long as you recognise that it’s your choice, you can’t blame anyone else for it, and the pay-off you receive is more important to you than to change. It’s your life, your feeling, your choice. It’s also your health. If something goes amiss, you’re responsible.
Please understand this, however – you’ll never fully step into your own magnificent, boundless power, until you take full responsibility for everything to do with you, your wellbeing and your life.
Step 3: Act
Once you’ve noticed you’re not feeling as you want to and made the decision to change that feeling to something positive, it’s time to take conscious action to allow that desired state to manifest in you.
This can be a bit of a process at the beginning, so be patient with yourself. That old, habitual feeling may be persistent. It has been, after all, the road most traveled in your brain. Creating the new neural pathway, which is a new feeling/response, may need some encouragement. Instead of being frustrated at slipping into old patterns, congratulate yourself for noticing, deciding to take control, and act.
Here are three actions you can take anywhere, anytime to interrupt the unwanted feeling, and prompt the new, desired one:
Yep, the old breath. Check that your belly moves in and out as you breathe. If your belly’s not moving, you’re holding tension which will prevent you from breathing fully and freely. This will hold you in a stress response, and in mental busyness. Let that belly hang out and move! It will expand out when you inhale, and move inwards towards your spine when you exhale.
2. Stand up straight - Physiology affects Psychology.
It may help to look at your stance and posture analytically in a mirror, or get someone to take photos of you, to more objectively assess it.
The optimal posture for a calm state is:
- open (not hunched forward or held ‘up’ or ‘high’),
- relaxed (check you’re not holding tension in your chest or belly, shoulders or neck), and
- your face will be smiling or free of tension.
HINT #1: If your face is relaxed, generally the rest of you will be too. Focus on fully relaxing your face, and the rest will follow.
HINT #2: If you find yourself constantly looking down as you walk or as you go about your day, you are ‘in your head’. Lift your gaze and allow for a broader perspective. For even more stillness and awareness, become sensitive to your peripheral vision.
Change your physicality to induce the desired state.
3. Consciously Let Go
Let go of the unwanted feeling and stop resisting its opposite. This is a profoundly simple and powerful technique that is not to be underestimated.
Follow these steps:
- notice an unwanted feeling,
- decide to change, then
- let it go.
Depending on your beliefs, it might help to surrender to something: Universal Energy, God, Nature, or to the air around you. Don’t be alarmed if you notice a physical sensation resulting from the surrender. That’s just fine. There’s always an end to any feeling, so be reassured. If you keep surrendering it, it will eventually come to an end.
Follow the steps listed above:
- notice an unwanted feeling,
- decide to change, then
- consciously stop resisting its opposite.
When we experience an unwanted feeling we’re, in fact, resisting its opposite.
If you’re feeling anxious, consciously stop resisting calm.
If you’re feeling tense, consciously stop resisting release and relaxation.
If you’re feeling angry, consciously stop resisting love or acceptance.
HINT: We often focus on our thoughts rather than feelings. If you feel yourself getting caught in unwanted thought patterns, identify the feeling accompanying the thoughts, and let it go. That way, you’ll be letting go of thousands of related negative thoughts and thought patterns which have huddled within that one feeling. It’s a great shortcut!
We have the power.
We’re so much more powerful than we realise. And we get to choose our own state.
To get started, just take the first baby step – be aware of how you’re feeling. Don’t judge the feeling or become frustrated by it. Just feel it and observe it. Then, when you’re ready, decide how you want to feel, and take action to get there. You’re embarking on a wonderful, empowering adventure. It’s time to take control of your own wellbeing, and step into calm. Good luck!
^I’m not referring here to trauma-related anxiety, PTSD, depression etc. That’s a different story, and requires ‘reprogramming’ in the Subconscious Mind.