Three Free Ways to Connect with Calm

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Calmness has been linked to improved decision making, heart benefits, and more enjoyable relationships. But how to tap into it?

Here are three free ways to connect with a calming moment.

Slow Down

We don’t yet know all the effects of being in motion so much of the time, but the fast rate of the motion is being studied. Psychology Today reported on numerous mental and health benefits of slowing down. Processing fast moving images has been shown to alter brain behavior in children. Dimitri A Christakis reported on 30 studies in an October 2011 issue of Pediatrics showing executive functioning and other impairments or alerations.

So how to access this benefit? Moving fast can become automatic. We rush when it is not necessary but is simply a carryover from having rushed in the previous activity. Being aware of unnecessary rushing is the first step. Pausing to consciously shift between activities allows us to decide whether we still need to rush.

We can also modify our self-talk about the pressure or need to rush. Before answering machines, many felt panic if they did not get to the phone ring on time. Some people still let out an expletive if they pick up the phone too late. Rarely is this a crisis but our autonomous nervous system may still react as if it is an emergency. Instead, take steps to arrange other ways to handling incoming pressures to carve out a space to shift pace.

Imagine rushing to catch a bus. Once you are on board, you can sit down and relax. It would not make sense to still rush up and down the bus aisle after boarding. Just as senseless is our maintaining a breakneck pace for every task in front of us. Make conscious decisions about your pace.

Sharing

The pressure of keeping disturbances bottled up inside works against a state of calm. Sharing can be as simple as keeping a journal or attending a support group. Sarah Townsend, assistant professor at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science (December 2013) that taking with someone we perceive to  have the same feelings reduces stress.

We all need to release self-imposed impossible expectations. Self-talk plays a role in accessing calm here as well. Reject the assumption that you are so unique that no one has been challenged like you are or has never met this problem. That gives permission to share it with someone else who is trustworthy and understanding.

 Even making a voice memo gets your frustration out of your body and allows your brain to restore serotonin and dopamine levels. Your brain does not know whether you are talking to a real person or not.

Silence

Perhaps the least favorite or most overlooked way to calm down, silence is the easiest to achieve. Pricey noise-cancelling headphones are not required. Simply walk away from time to time from an intensively noisy environment to a quiet one.  

What happens most often is that we are unaware of the stress buildup from noise. Omnipresent music and broadcasts in the background have become a wallpaper of sound around us. The impact is still entering our mind and bodies.

Hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects have been linked to noise pollution, enough to make it part of the Clean Air Act.

Besides the washroom, sometimes simply shutting the door if we have an office or walking to another quieter room can do the trick. Pause, breathe and return when you feel a greater sense of calm within.

Christian Science Reading Rooms join libraries in a testimony to the need for quiet. Take lunches in a quiet place. Decide to delay turning on news or music when you get home to enjoy quiet. If you are not the first to get home, avoid having news or music automatically on in your car.

It will be surprising how many places we can remove noise from around us once we become aware of its intrusiveness. The growing popularity of meditation aides attests to an increasing appreciation of stilling the chattering mind that results from an environment overloaded with sensory pressures.

Slowing down, sharing, and silence can give us immediate access to calm. Share a comment on your favorite free way to increase calm in your day.

You at Christmas

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There’s a lot of talk about the value and need to be giving at this time of year. We have slogans like “It’s better (or ‘more blessed’ some say) to give than receive” that in our materialistic society seems a challenge. One charity boasts they are “Doing the most good.” Or we worry about the price of gifts that are out of our range.

Is giving supposed to be a competition? If so, what’s the prize? Or the measure?

  1. The Calculated Giver.

My sisters and I were always amused that our mother kept a Christmas Card list from Continue reading

Two for One

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I am glad to announce the inclusion of my story “The Orphan Tree” in this year’s collection, Stories Before Christmas.

I am including a free copy with any order of Redemption from Biblical Battering. I can’t bundle them on Amazon so just send me your address with a picture of your order and I will send you your copy of Stories Before Christmas!

Enjoy!

stories before christmas

Holiday Excuses

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None of us probably understands why some family members might choose to bring up residual hostilities that need years of therapy and analysis over the dinner table during an afternoon’s holiday visit.

What makes these occasions bring up so many urgent feelings that they must be expressed now is a mystery. Whatever the volcanic pressures are, Wild Pecos Bill conversations are one reason these occasions are dreaded instead of enjoyed.

SNL has made a successful skit out of Drunk Uncle, the perennial bull in the china shop, or rather, sitting in front of the china. But we all have some variation of the person we Continue reading

New Recovery Workbook

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More awareness of gender abuse within church groups has become news recently. Doctrinal groups both reflect and shape the culture they are in.

Groups like Christian for Biblical Equality, FaithTrust Institute, and Twitter voices such as #savedfromthe silence, #defendthe sheep, #churchtoo, #emptythepews and others are witnessing that church is not always safe for women.

During Domestic Violence month, I want to point out that an estimated 25% of church women are abused in their homes. They stay longer because of wrestling with faith questions.

Although prevalence seems to be higher in conservative religions, enforcement of patriarchy as God’s will is not limited to these groups. Many books are now coming out about the struggle to maintain faith within a system that does not honor the equality of women.

However, I did not find a self-help recovery workbook to  help women sort out the complex and subtle pressures to keep them in an abusive relationship within some churches.

That is why I am happy to report that my workbook, Redemption from Biblical Battering, is now available on Amazon and Kindle. I hope you will consider it when you meet a woman of faith who thinks she must choose between her faith and her marriage.

 

Top 10 Rules for Getting Dressed For Seniors (Youth, Be Advised)       

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I’m not Nora Ephron, whose book I Feel Bad About  My Neck, is a bemused look at women’s aging. She realized this when she was a lunch after facelifts and everyone was wearing turtlenecks. My own list, however, is true for my friends and me.

  1. Do not attempt until ½ hour after shower or bath. Items of clothing will not move

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    over skin.

2. On second thought, do not attempt bath. You won’t be able to get out.

3. Do not attempt any item with back closures, including bras.

4. Allow one hour to put on compression hose (double if two hoses).

5. Do not attempt any item requiring lacing.

6. Go surgical for alterations to facial appearance. Anything less is a waste of money and time.

7. Choose hats, scarves, or wigs.

8. Use children’s college funds for knee and shoulder replacements.

9. Elastic only.

10. Just forget it.

adult bed bedroom breakfast

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I’m Inconvenient. Are You?

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Al Gore’s film about climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth”, made a big splash and was aptly name. But increasingly human beings are considered inconvenient because of two bullies: greed and speed. Watkins Glen State Park NY

There are days when I feel like a character in The Matrix. Others would be pleased if they could just strap me to a table and hook my bank account up to their tubes.

More businesses want me to just set up online accounts which siphon money directly from me to their account. They never have to see me, talk to me, or deal with me at all, unless it’s the nanosecond requirement for me to click “I agree.” Nor is it possible to explain a situation that does not fit their parameters over the phone.

Phone trees and websites are designed to Continue reading

Some Women Have Fat

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I started to write “Some Women are Fat” but that’s not the main issue. More men are becoming weight conscious, but for women fat phobia is a way of life. “This Is Us” has won an Emmy in part for including the lifetime pain of a large woman in its story line. More prevalent are shows like “The Biggest Loser”, featuring weighty men and women abusing themselves, often gaining the weight back because of their underlying medical problem.

The reality is that the medical community may not want to admit they don’t have an answer to all the fat conditions. They are as myriad and individual as the people struggling with fat. One doctor told a candidate surgery was the only way to reset her metabolism. Really?  The big secret is that bariatric surgery does not reliably produce weight loss.

Recently the role of our manufactured food industry has been recognized, but still the billion dollar diet industry rolls on. Women are assured the more they measure, the more they will never measure up with the appropriate body.  Ads for “health” are masks Continue reading

A Father Is In This House

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A Father is in this house,

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A Father standing tall,

And even more surprising,

He admits he doesn’t know it all.

 

It’s good to have a Father

Who can constantly stay,

Who doesn’t hide or disappear

When things don‘t go his way.

A Father who follows through

On promises he made

And guides his children lovingly

And helps them find their way.

 

A Father who, beyond biology,

Gives his strength and love.

In spite of his faults, his children say

“You’re a Dad we’re proud of.”