“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person at peace with others.” – Peace Pilgrim
We all have felt anxiety before. No matter how confident and relaxed you are, you know what it's like to be nervous before an interview, trembling before a speech, or cold and clammy over the pending results of your graded quiz.
The point of this article is to provide you with eight different ways to release this tension. Hardly anyone will actually notice that you are using them. You will not have to sit in a meditation position on the floor, or chant mantras to relax yourself ... so no worries.
Calming yourself involves not detaching yourself from your environment, but integrating yourself with it while you mentally move inward to obtain steadiness. You should not feel tired or detached. You should simply find yourself in the zone: alert, focused and relaxed.
This one's great for if you are waiting to give a speech or if you are nervous in a group setting. Simply put your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on the arms of your chair. If your chair doesn't have arms, place them on the edges of the seat. Brace yourself. Now, take a deep breath, and push up with your arms and feet as you exhale. Lock your arms - let your torso hang from your locked arms for a moment while you finish exhaling ... long and deep. Go limp, but remain locked in the up position. Now sit back down. You feel like a noodle, and everything is cool.
Breathing is absolutely crucial to calming yourself. I recommend you do some in-depth research on Eastern styles of breathing, and how to breathe powerfully with your diaphragm. Breathe in strongly and slowly through your nose as you expand your diaphragm. Your stomach should rise, not your chest. Now, blow it out strongly and steadily through your mouth. Repeat this a few times. You can feel the tension leaving your body.
This one may not seem like much, but it has serious subconscious value. When most people are relaxed (particularly us guys) we have a tendency to spread our legs slightly and take up more space. By consciously spreading your legs while sitting (or standing) you will take up more space, which is what we generally do when we are comfortable in a setting. Perform the action, and the feeling of comfort will follow.
Yes, slouching is bad for your posture. Slouching for years will curve your spine. Slouching for a few minutes will not. This is another habit most people demonstrate when they are relaxed and comfortable: They slouch. So, next time you feel antsy about a situation, allow yourself to lean back your head and slouch slightly in your chair. Once again, the feeling will follow the action.
Powerful people are often calm, relaxed and comfortable in their actions. When they sit around a table, they often do one of two things with their hands: Steepling, or the hands-behind-the-head. To steeple, put your elbows on the table, and steeple your hands in front of your face, lean back in your chair and put your hands behind your head, lacing your fingers together. This is how bosses sit when they are talking to people who work for them. It has profound effects in making you feel more powerful and relaxed.
This is an incredible psychological tool. Your subconscious mind anchors certain actions / stimuli with certain feelings and responses. Psychological anchors and triggers are used everywhere. It is the reason behind many strong emotional connections. If you had a song played at your wedding, hearing the song played at a later date may make you cry. The emotional event was your wedding, and you heard a song during it (the anchor). Thus, the song became tied to the feelings you felt during your wedding. Upon hearing the song again (the trigger) you feel the same feelings again.
Anchors are used everywhere, in positive and negative emotions. To use them to calm yourself, develop a specific anchor every time you are calm. My anchor is to place my hand palm-down on my thigh. Every time I am relaxed, I do this, to reinforce the anchor. Then when I need to be calm, I simply fire the trigger (palm on the thigh) and my mind recreates the emotion tied to that anchor- which is relaxation. Pick an anchor you don't use that much, such as touching your ear, or putting your hand on your knee. Do it whenever you are relaxed, and when you need to become relaxed, doing it will help to put you in that mental state.
Kill Internal Dialogue
There are many ways to do this, but here's one good technique: If you are talking yourself into a worrisome state, or worrying while talking to someone during a conversation, do this immediately. Defocus your eyes, and open your peripheral vision. Look at two areas ahead of you, to each side. Picture your conscious thoughts in those areas. Now, draw your gaze up from both points at 45 degree angles until they meet in the high-center of your vision. Next bring the gaze straight down, so it is directly in front of you (a person’s face if you are talking to them). Now, picture your gaze coming straight back to your own head, as you return your consciousness to your own mind. Not only does it help increase focus, but the simple effort required to perform the exercise will often stop any distracting internal dialogue you are having at the time.
If you feel a general anxiety of your whole body, such as being self-conscious of your hands, feet, or body position, this exercise can work wonders. Close your eyes. Take a few deep, long breaths: in through your nose and out through your mouth. Place your tongue on your front pallet, directly above the backside of your upper teeth- this is effective in stimulating cross-lobe integration (and relaxation) in the brain. Picture a point far in front of you. Project your thoughts there in your mind. Continue breathing, and keep your thoughts there, until you are fully relaxed and have forgotten about clammy hands, sweaty feet, or mismatched socks. Once you are relaxed, slowly bring the point in front of you closer as you return to a fully aware state.
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