We all have areas of life that sometimes feel overwhelming, over the top, and just plain too much to handle. Add in a global health crisis and the latest political news and social injustices and it can feel like we’re on the edge of a full-blown meltdown.
Regardless of which category of “storm clouds” has you veering out of alignment with your joy, clarity, and overall well-being, mindfulness is a wonderful tool for finding your way back center.
Here are some quick tips you can use to tap back into calm.
Observe Yourself Without Judgment.
When you feel the intensity of a particularly challenging emotion welling up inside of you, drop down into the emotion and see what’s there, not judging it but simply observing with curiosity. This is the heart of what mindfulness is all about. It takes practice, but soon you’ll be able to tune into your body and notice what’s happening inside you. Once you notice these feelings, you can work with them, giving yourself room to breathe and changing your relationship to them.
Comfort Yourself with Soothing Touch.
Placing your hand over your heart — or wherever you find it most comforting (i.e., your shoulder, your cheek) — taps into your body’s mammalian caregiver response and releases oxytocin and opiates in your brain to counteract cortisol, the stress hormone.
I put my hand on my heart probably twenty times a day! Whenever I hear an upsetting story, up goes my hand to my heart. Some of my mindfulness students find that placing a hand on their belly or cheek worked better for them. Try different spots out on yourself and see what works for you.
Tell Yourself What You Need to Hear.
What do you wish someone would say to you right now? What words would be most comforting or soothing to hear? Do you need to be told you are safe? Strong? Capable? Create a phrase and repeat it as a mantra to yourself. For example:
I am healthy and strong.
I am safe.
I will get through this.
Whatever unfolds, I will be there to meet it.
I am loved and appreciated.
Focus on the mantra until it sinks in and you begin to believe it. Don’t worry if it feels forced at first.
When we are in the depths of emotional chaos, turning to mindfulness can feel challenging. The more you practice, though, the easier it becomes, and the more quickly chaos will resolve into something more manageable. We can’t control what comes our way, but we can control how we respond to it.
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