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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stressed Out? Self-Calming Activities Restore Clear Thinking



Be Calm

What's on Your Mind This Morning?
What did you wake up thinking about this morning?  Were you calm or stressed as you thought about it?

Whichever way we start--calm or stressed-- it usually builds momentum and determines  the course of our day.  It's just the way our brains work--stress begets stress, and calm begets calm.

I've got those Overwhelmed, Out-of-control, Stressed-out Blues

My daughter is transferring to a new college. That's what's what was on my mind this morning.  She's 600 miles away, needs to move, find a place to live in another state, rent a U-Haul, and move her belongings while dealing with snow storms and safety issues. In addition, she still needs to finish the school term and get oriented to the new school at the same time. Of course I want to help. And that's just the beginning. You see how it is....

Self-Calming Activities Provide the Cure

Like you, I have to figure out how to get myself out of that overwhelmed feeling when a bout of life hits.  I have a low tolerance for discomfort. I hate feeling overwhelmed, and I'm very motivated to get out of it as fast as I can.

To return to being clear and focused sooner, I've learned to engage in self-calming activities when overwhelmed.  It's a simple, effective strategy for redirecting my focus, and I make good and reasoned choices when I'm calm.

Heart Rate over 100? Kiss Your Ability to Think Clearly Good-Bye!

John Gottman, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and co-founder and co-director of the Gottman Institute, studies couples to determine what makes for harmonious relationships and what gets in the way.  Use of self-calming techniques is part of the answer to what makes for more harmonious relationships.

As part of his research, Gottman takes physiological recordings, including heart rate and blood pressure readings to determine how stressed or relaxed couples are while talking to each other.

Gottman has shown when our heart rate goes above 100 in non-exercise situations, such as when engaged in an argument with a spouse, our brains go diffuse. In other words, our ability to problem-solve or think clearly flies out the window, and fear and irrationality move in.

In order to bring their heart rates down so they can think more clearly and problem solve more effectively, Gottman teaches couples to pause and practice self-calming techniques when their emotions cause their heart rate to raise above 100.

You Know Best What Calms You

What are self-calming activities for you? You know best what will calm and relax you.  It's anything you can engage in that redirects your attention away from the stress to a calmer state. This activity can take as little as 5-10 minutes, or it can be sleeping on it overnight.

The list below will get you started. Try one and see what happens.

Me? Today I took a walk,  brewed some tea, got some facts, and put it down. I'm going to sleep on it tonight and see what tomorrow brings.

Self-Calming Activities

Take a Walk
Take a Break
Take a Nap
Take a Shower
Take a Bath
Take Action
Read a Book
Brew some Tea
Nourish your Body
Make a List
Talk with a Friend
Get the Facts
Take a step
Put it down
Do Something Else
Sleep on it
Give it Time
Let it Go
Believe the Affirmation


Be Calm

2 comments:

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Susan, I came to your blog by way of your comment on Grant Soosalu's blog. I like your list of calming activities, especially "brew some tea"--what I'm doing this very minute!

LightartedSue said...

Jean, thanks for visiting the site! You get an added bonus with some of the teas that come with affirmations on the tea bags. I'm currently enjoying a cup of Yogi Peppermint tea that came with the saying, 'Live by intuition and consciousness'.