Are you feeling stressed about something you can’t control? Is your mind going over all of the possible scenarios and conversations you could have? Does it feel like you can’t catch your breath and your mind is racing?
Take a slow deep breath in and out.
I’m here to help you.
You’ve probably heard people say, “don’t worry about it!”, “let it go!”, or “just breathe”. As if it were that easy to quiet the monkey mind (the monkey mind is a Buddhist term for an unsettled mind). The truth is, you cannot jump from obsessing about something, to just simply letting it go. It’s like asking you to get off a roller coaster ride and immediately go into a library and be extra quiet, it takes time and skills.
Why is it so hard to quiet the mind? Because your entire nervous system is in fight or flight mode, seeking solutions for a situation that is triggering feelings of insecurity and anxiety. Your heart is beating fast, your mind is racing, your breath shallow, you can’t focus, and you are feeling out of control. The anxiety takes over your mind, body, and emotions and in order to calm your mind, you need to address this in practical ways.
Don’t despair. I’m going to share with you 3 valuable and practical steps that have helped me (and my clients) calm the body, quiet the mind, and let go of anxiety. Practice these skills and let me know in the comments below which ones worked best for you, or if you have a preferred method that you’d like to share.
Step 1: Shift your physicality
Stress tends to get stuck in the physical body, so in order to change how you feel or perceive a situation, you must change your physicality first. How do you shift from high stress to lesser stress? Here are some suggestions to practice this first step:
- Go for a walk or work out
- Listen to an upbeat song and dance to it
- Take a nap or a cold shower
- Get busy with projects you need to complete
- Take 10 slow, deep breaths
- Drink water/relaxing tea
- Put your bare feet on the ground
- Listen to empowering podcasts/audios/videos
- Watch a comedy show
Step 2: Connect with your inner self
You become anxious about a situation because of the perceived consequences it may have in your life. You try to control the outcome or predict what could happen, but when you look deep within, you discover that what you are trying to so is avoid rejection, disappointment, or abandonment. Practice this next step by connecting to your deepest needs:
- Have a good cry
- Put your hand over your heart and talk to your inner self with compassion
- Ask yourself how you would like to feel instead
- Ask how you can give this to yourself
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions safely
- Be kind to yourself
- Pet an animal
Step 3: Surrender
When you have expectations about the way things should be, how people should behave, or how life should go, you set yourself up for disappointment and suffering. Trying to control situations or people so you don’t get hurt is not a realistic or genuine way of living (I’ve tried!). The only thing you can control is how you respond to situations, your feeling, and your decisions. Below are some suggestions to help you move to the third step to free yourself from an anxious mind.
- Let go of the need to know the answer, control, or be right
- Know that you’ll be OK regardless
- Give it up to God
- Know that you have no control over how other people feel or react
- Know that there is a bigger plan
- As yourself what is the lesson
- Let go of expectations
- Do self-care
- Be kind to yourself and others
- Be present
Practice these skills as often as possible to help you quiet your monkey mind. The more connected you are to your inner self, the more you’ll understand your triggers and how to be present with your emotions. By being present you release the need to control your current situation and stop judging it based on your past or your future expectations.
Surrendering is the tool that brings you the most peace but only after you have shifted the physical stress and acknowledged your feelings. Surrendering means letting go of control and trusting that you’ll be OK no matter what, and allowing your path to unfold.
If you need additional help with this, contact me.
Nancy De Andrade, PhD