We’ve all had moments when life’s demands left us feeling stressed and scattered. In these moments, it’s helpful to have some simple tools to help us gain composure and come back to our center, gathering our thoughts, and re-prioritizing our life.
There are times when life simply pushes you to your breaking point, and you have to find a solution. Over the past 9 months, my wife and I have been experiencing our first pregnancy. Moods have been wild, tempers have flared, emotions have run wild. Especially in the later parts of our pregnancy, we both have been a mixed bag of emotions, scared, nervous, anxious, all of the above. On top of that, we both work from home, although I frequently travel for my job. However, I have reduced my travel significantly over the past 2 months, we have been seeing more and more of each other, which has had a cabin fever effect.
So what do you do in those moments when life must go on? What about the times you can’t defer your duties in favor of your bed?
I can tell you what I do. Find your Center when life gets crazy
For me, the key to feeling grounded is mind-body integration. And while a yoga class, a hard workout at the gym, or a simple stroll might be helpful toward this end, it’s hardly feasible in those everyday moments when life feels overwhelming.
instead, a simple, applicable strategy is all it takes to help me feel centered.
I have worked with many business coaches, life coaches and other professionals that work in the life-coach space. I have consolidated many of their thoughts here..
1. Three-Count Breath.
One way to help the body relax and restore its basic functioning is to steady your breath. Start in this way: Inhale for three counts. Hold for three counts. Exhale for three counts. After a few rounds of that, attempt to prolong the counts so that your breathing can slow and return to normal. This process can be helpful in less than a minute.
2. Stop Sign Visualization.
Those negative, looping thoughts that are spiraling out of control in your mind? They don’t serve you. There’s no time to listen to them, anyway: You have very important things to do!
So, to move forward without letting your thoughts drag you down, try this: For each self-defeating thought that pops up (“I’ll never get it all done!” and so on), visualize a large, red stop sign in your mind and think, “Stop.”
Try to drop the rest of the thought. This takes practice, because those thoughts have a lot of “psychic inertia” and that’s why they need a “Stop Sign.” Use it liberally.
Used alone or in conjunction with the Stop Sign Visualization, a simple mantra can be an effective tool.
Consider a few affirming phrases to repeat during these moments. It should be something that rings true to you and can reassure you. For example, “I can manage,” “This will pass,” “There is no emergency,” or “It will all get done.” Experiment with the right mantra for yourself, and repeat it often.
This technique is often recommended for people in dissociative episodes, but is useful and applicable during times of everyday stress as well. The purpose is to generate an awareness of your sensory experience so that you can feel more grounded in your body.
It’s very simple. Name the things you are experiencing for each of the senses: Identify five things you can see, five things you can feel, five things you can hear, and five things you can smell. For taste, a sip of cold water is often enough to bring awareness to the body.
5. Core Rooting.
Take a moment to stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Visualize your body as a tree, with your torso representing the trunk and your feet representing the roots. Focus your attention on your core and scan down your legs until you reach your feet.
Notice the ground beneath your feet. Feel the strength of your body. You are not “scattered” anymore; you are right here.
When you are able to center yourself in times of distress, you will find that you work more efficiently, relate to others more easily, and feel an improvement in your physical health. Each of the above techniques can be employed anywhere and any time, in just a minute or two.
Experiment with one or all and see what feels right for you.
Life can get hectic, but these simple tools can bring you back to center so that you can enjoy it.
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