We all know that things can happen, both at home and on the road. It’s not always possible to control them. So it is important to have tools and resources available for those times when they are most difficult. Our top tips will help you remain calm in a crisis.
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We can’t avoid unpleasant situations in our lives, whether it’s a missed flight or a lost or stolen passport. It’s not what happens, it’s how you respond to it that matters. This is one of my favourite quotes and something I have struggled with for most of my adult life.
Up until about one year ago, it felt like I had no control over my reactions to life’s challenges. My nervous system was always ready to fight or flee at any moment, and sometimes the smallest things could send me into panic mode.
You are not alone if you feel overwhelmed by difficult times in your life. It is normal to feel this way!
There are many tools that can help you shift from someone who reacts to everything externally to one who is calm and steady even in the most difficult situations. These are just a few of the tools that I found extremely useful!
Keep Your Breath Alive
It’s hard to remember to breathe deep in times of crisis. Neuroscientists have shown that different breathing patterns and paying attention to your breath can engage different parts of your brain.
Slow, deep breathing activates the hypothalamus and sends neurohormones to the body that reduce stress-producing hormones. The brain’s arousal centre is not activated, so we can face the situation and not panic.
Blog aside, I am a breathwork guide/hypnotherapist. It has been one of my most effective tools in shifting my mental and emotional state.
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Enjoy a Moment of Silence
It doesn’t matter if you call it “meditation” but just “taking a moment to be silent”, this is crucial during times of crisis. It will be easier to make this a daily practice when you are experiencing difficulties in your life.
I used to use drugs, alcohol, food and binging on TV to drown out my emotions. I’m so thankful that I can now reach for meditation instead.
There are many ways to meditate, one thing I want to emphasize. I hear people constantly tell me that they can’t empty the mind. It makes me happy to be able tell them that this is completely normal and acceptable. To be able to empty your head takes a lot of practice. This is something that most meditation practitioners rarely reach.
Since many years, I have been practicing mindful meditation. I see it as a way for me to be aware of the thoughts that are playing in my head unconsciously and control my emotions. It’s like “watching the show” in your head, according to one of my favorite teachers.
Transcendental meditation is something I do now, although it does require me to empty my mind. However, I still love returning to mindful meditation.
Connect to the Present Moment
This is a great way to get your mind back into the present moment if you are too stressed out to close your eyes or sit still.
Concentrate on your index finger for twenty-six to sixty seconds. Allow your body and mind to be consumed by this. Keep your finger near you to examine the rivets and lines. Take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
This is an easy and quick way to bring your awareness back into the present. Instead of dwelling on the future, or worrying about the possible outcomes, it allows you to focus on the present. Ayurvedic tradition suggests that you focus on your hands to help ground your soul and stabilize the body.
Change your perspective
It’s amazing how different people can react to the same situation in completely different ways.
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It is something that takes some practice but I love the Neurolinguistic Programming method of shifting my perspective in difficult situations. It is called reframing in NLP. Once you are proficient at it you can take any situation you have and create an empowering narrative.
It’s normal to panic in unexpected situations. However, this is not always the best for us. Unless we are being chased or threatened by lions or other situations where our instincts of flight or fight are actually protecting us. Our brains often choose the safest perspective, even though it is not always the best. We can sometimes, but not always realizing it, give away our power by viewing life through a limited lens.
However, it is important to be aware (which is where breathingwork and meditation can prove to be very helpful) that you have the ability to choose your own perspective. Why not choose something that empowers you, rather than makes you feel defeated?
Tapping, or EFT, is a new technique to me. Although I knew about tapping for many years, I didn’t take the time to actually practice it until just recently. It’s amazing how quickly I can shift from an emotional state, where I feel so overwhelmed that it’s hard to breathe, to a calm and centered state after just a few minutes of practicing it.
Use Social Media to Limit the Time You Spend
Social media is full of noise, and most of it doesn’t help. I don’t know if you feel the same, but I get extremely tired if I spend too much time on my social media. It’s tempting to turn to social media for distraction when you’re in a difficult situation. However, it can quickly drain your energy.
Get Out Into Nature
Get outside as often as possible! Nature can help you feel grounded and lift your mood. Numerous studies have shown that people who spend more time outdoors are less likely to experience depression or anxiety. Even if I’m having a bad day, a walk outside can make everything better.
Contact a Friend
Many of us have become so accustomed to texting these days that it is almost unnatural to pick up a phone and call a friend. Although I admit that I prefer texting, I find it helpful to hear the voice of someone when I’m feeling down.
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Focus on Gratitude
This is an important aspect of our society that we often overlook. We are constantly seeking more material goods to make us happy. But since my Ecuador plant medicine experience, I have made gratitude part of my everyday life.
Take a look at the lessons
My belief is that everything happens for reasons. Although I don’t always see the lesson in difficult situations, I do find them after reflection.