Whether you’re scrolling through social media on your phone or watching the news on TV, the constant swirl of pandemic and protest headlines can feel overwhelming at times.
We’re all coping with the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, and the deep pain that has been brought to the surface by the social justice protests. The ongoing pandemic has also led to extended isolation and caused tremendous economic anxieties.
While some of us may be experiencing feelings of fear, others may be feeling hopeless and helpless, like they’ve lost control over just about everything. Yet others may even be feeling confused and angry. It’s normal to feel mixed emotions when faced with a frightening world and a worrisome future, but it’s also crucial to accept that others around you might not feel the same way that you do.
5 Ways to Destress and Stay Calm
If you’re looking for ways to keep your cool and remain calm in this crazy world, we suggest some self-care and self-reflection, with a little mindfulness thrown in for good measure. Read on for some GR8 ways to destress, achieve calm, and find your Zen.
Pause and Breathe
As humans, we are hard-wired to worry. This protective mechanism will sometimes cause us to feel agitated, jittery, and tense. When we are not feeling at peace, we tend to communicate in ways that are less than positive. If you feel yourself entering this defensive space, take a moment to pause and breathe. This practice creates space, which allows your threat system to switch off. Every day we ask others how they are doing, but we rarely take the time to ask ourselves: ‘How am I feeling today’ Find a quiet space–and give yourself ample time–to check in on yourself.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Psychologists know that the more that you try to hold something back or push it down, the stronger it becomes. So many of us (myself included) try to beat down our negative emotions because they don’t feel good, and we don’t want to feel bad. But, feeling sad, frustrated, or angry is part of life. Let yourself be curious about all of your feelings–the good, the bad, and the ugly. In other words, allow yourself to be human.
Get Out of Your Head
Our lives and the world we live in are crazier than ever, and we are bombarded by noise and distractions. Once again, we need to switch off our internal threat system to regain balance. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and visualize somewhere calm to manage the tension in the body and ease the worry in your mind. Do this regularly, and each time you envision that place, your brain will recognize that you’re stepping out of the chaos, and will respond by deactivating your threat system.
Self-Care Is Essential
When you are stressed, your brain is tired, and it’s taking more effort to understand and process things than usual, it’s time to start taking care of yourself. Self-care helps regulate our emotions by stimulating feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Take the time to stop and listen to yourself regularly. What is the tone of voice in your head? If the voice is gentle, calm, and kind, like you were talking to a dear friend, it will help ease your distress.
See the Bigger Picture
When we hyper-focus on the things that are bothering us, we neglect to see the entire landscape of our lives. We need to stop looking for faults and start looking for what is wonderful. This goes beyond being an optimist or a pessimist. This is seeing life in its entirety and acknowledging the good. Chances are, you will realize that you have so much to be thankful for.
Try to live your life to the fullest and not take it all so seriously. There is little that is certain in this life, and even the best-laid plans are never guaranteed. So, stop and take stock of your principles and values, learn to let go of resentment and anger, and live your life with a focus on love and compassion.
Zen Is Normal & Natural
The term ‘Zen’ doesn’t have to conjure up images of mystical figures and magical enlightenment. Zen isn’t something that other people will pick up on, necessarily. Zen is simply a place you find in your own consciousness that empowers you to act more rationally, intelligently, and creatively. Others will experience the benefits of your Zen presence, but to them, it will just seem like normal, natural, and mature behavior.