HOW TO STAY CALM IN THE PRESENCE OF STRESS AND CHAOS
Notice what you’re noticing
When we’re in the middle of a stressful situation, it can be tempting to let ourselves be swallowed up by the sense of overwhelm. But, there’s a powerful question to consider that will help you bring yourself back to center. Are you focusing your attention on the obstacles and problems in your life, or are you noticing the blessings and opportunities?
Here’s the truth: If you focus on your problems and how much pain and stress they are causing you, your negative feelings will only grow.
- The first step I recommend you do is to take a deep breath. Notice that you’re breathing. Feel the air flowing through your nostrils, going down into your belly, then rising back out of your body.
- Next, notice that you can notice. Notice that you have that faculty, just like you have hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, and tasting faculties.
- Notice the tip of your nose, your right index finger, your left kneecap, the bottom of your right foot, the tips of all ten toes, your cheeks, your chin, the top of your head.
You have a choice at this very moment – you can choose what to notice. Notice that you’re alive. Notice that you can choose to pay attention to the positive things in your life, or you can choose to keep thinking about your problems.
Use this practice to bring your awareness back to yourself and your body, and take a moment to let your mind rest. Become present again by focusing on the simple sensations that let you know you’re alive.
Ask yourself, ‘What good could come from this situation?
Every challenge has within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. But, before you can experience these benefits, you need to find that seed, nourish it, and let it bloom in your mind.
When we’re in the middle of seemingly adverse situations, this can be easier said than done. Still, I encourage you to try this practice. Looking for the possible good in any situation opens you to receiving the greatest secret gifts from the universe. The key to seeing the possible good when you’re facing challenges is to stay open and curious. This is how opportunities present themselves to you.
Ask yourself, ‘What gift could there be for me inside of this challenge?’
Then, stay open and write the answers that come to you. Write anything you could think of. All possibilities are valid! Let the infinite intelligence support you in your journey with something even better than you could have imagined.
Ground yourself with the Rectangular Breathing Exercise
When we are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, we can actually feel physical symptoms – rapid heartbeat, sweating, and even shortness of breath. This state is called ‘fight or flight.’ When you’re in it, you may feel panicky and unsure how to move to a state of calm and relief.
A helpful tool in this situation is the Rectangular Breathing Exercise. Changing our breathing can very quickly change our energetic state, helping us to find calm in a stressful circumstance. The technique receives its name because it consists of four steps, breaking down each breath into two long periods and two short periods.
- The first step is to breathe in through your nose for a count of eight seconds (this could be considered the long side of the rectangle). Pause for a count of four seconds (this would be the short side of the rectangle).
- Next, breathe out for a count of eight and pause for a count of four.
Do this for five minutes whenever you feel anxious and upset. While you repeat this breathing pattern, you will feel your physiology change.
The Rectangular Breathing Exercise is used to move your physiology from ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic nervous system) to ‘rest and digest’ or parasympathetic nervous system.
This way, you will use the power of your breathing to regain a peaceful state.