Habits…they can make or break your day, and more importantly, can work either for you or against you should they go rogue.
Some of those habits have been around for as long as our first toothbrush – most times they started as a useful tool to help us manage or cope. But…became so much part of what we do (and sometimes what we think we are) that we end up not noticing them anymore.
Today’s blog spotlights one of those meh habits, what I call that funk we can get ourselves in because of an accumulation of stress, pressure, expectations, […], but may struggle to get out of. It may be a familiar place but it’s still as uncomfortable as ever, a place where we don’t want to stay for too long anymore.
Do this ⇒ go back into your body //
Not that⇒ any kind of numbing
What is the first thing you can do when your brain is all gloom and doom and no amount of “you need to chill” is working? Not TwitterGram, not candies, not rehashing. But finding a way to remind your body that you are well and alive.
Any physical activity will do – starting with breathing to calm down your nervous system. After a few breaths, if you can, get up and walk, even if it is only to the water cooler. Your brain not being a multitasker, it cannot stress out and plan another activity at the same time; this is why shifting the attention to what is calming and reassuring can be your first and most obvious way out of the funk.
How does your body feel? What about your heart rate? Where do you want to put your attention into? – look at ways to further anchor that feeling of “I can be ok right now” into your body. You can try this free one-minute meditation, go outside for a quick walk, or start a conversation. Ultimately, this is about getting yourself back into your natural state of resourcefulness and positive action.
Do this ⇒ practice self-regulation //
Not that⇒ gaslighting yourself
Consciously breathing reconnects you to your natural state of planning and logical thinking. And if we assume that this is not the first time this particular emotion got triggered, let’s try to understand what was going on beyond the knee-jerk emotional reaction.
Emotions are messengers for unspoken needs, feelings or longings. The earlier you understand what’s beneath, the better you will be at self-regulating.
Self-regulating = learning to become emotionally detached from the situation.
Self-regulating is not gaslighting, berating yourself, or feeling ashamed for being a reactive human. We all are.
What self-regulating can be, however, is a space where, once you are back in command outside the emotional wave, you can validate the emotion (“ok, I got angry, it happens, now what?”) – observe the situation from a neutral place, check in with yourself as to why you reacted the way you did, and decide to do differently (or not) next time.
Emotional detachment can be difficult to obtain, especially when in the middle of a straw too many. It’s a process, not a goal – try, fail, learn and try again. You will be given more than one opportunity to practice for your future zen self.
Do this ⇒ notice what you appreciate //
Not that⇒ a gratitude list that is another to-do-list
I have a personal beef with certain gratitude lists. “I am forcing myself to be grateful to have the stuff that I worked my ass off to have, and here, I am still not happy, and so what if I have this, it doesn’t change anything for me”… Andddd… no shift in the emotional state – maybe even quite the opposite, a mental block? The way we choose to do gratitude lists can feel like a forced, intellectual and mental looping – I understand, but let’s don’t throw the bathwater yet.
Enters the shift from gratitude ⇒ appreciation. While forced gratitude can be a mental exercise, appreciation can put you back into your body (point 1 of this post) and helps you self-regulate (point 2) from whatever ” feeling down” state you are in, back into a state of reconnecting your body to a positive feeling.
Close your eyes and remember an experience you really truly appreciated earlier today. Was it someone who smiled at you? A hug? Your morning tea?
Allow your body to experience again the emotion of feeling full and serene, even if it was for only a short minute.
Now you can write your gratitude list!