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.
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.
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.
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.