Ever heard the phrase “the calm before the storm”?
I believe we often find ourselves in the storm before the calm! And it’s largely down to stress. In the past we’ve utilised the natural mammalian mechanism which allows us to act fast by releasing a stress hormone. It’s called the fight-or-flight response and is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event. It’s what saved us as a species in prehistoric times, when we were faced with, for example, dangerous animals.
Nowadays stress often seems to direct our lives, and the temporary release of the stress hormone appears to be more of a steady trickle whereas, actually, once the perceived danger has passed we’re supposed to return to normal. Instead there is often no calm, just varying intensities of storms preceding yet more storms! And the continual release of the stress hormone inevitably results in a myriad of related disorders such as hypertension, insomnia and migraines.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t stress: it’s not an oncoming train! Through the power of the mind (and do NOT underestimate this), you can ease out daily stressors and experience the calm before … the calm; and one way to handle this to think of the serenity of PLANTS.
Pause … Leave … Accept … Not This … Twenty … Steps
Pause: before starting a new task, just pause. If you’re standing, just stand; if you’re seated, stay on your backside, motionless. Then look around you, listen to the sounds around you, smell the fragrance in the air. Just do nothing and experience being. And once you’ve paused begin the task with a greater appreciation of your environment.
Leave: your baggage. This is tough, but you have mentally check it in to an alternative destination – it shouldn’t be on your flight. Face every situation and every person as new, as if you’ve not experienced them before. Start fresh.
Accept: the moment. If you’re stuck in a situation from which you think you’re not gaining anything or a meeting that you don’t want to be in but one which you’re obliged to attend, accept it and try to recognise any benefits there are for you and for others around you. This could apply to meetings, social appointments or relationships.
Not This: and not that. When things bother you and start to take over your life, repeat a short mantra to yourself “Not This” (or “Not That” depending on the situation). For example, if you find someone’s behaviour irritating, remind yourself that his or her behaviour will not annoy you today – say “Not This” to yourself. (Remember it’s usually the situation you’re responding to, not the individual.)
Twenty: the 20 minute rule. Getting to school or work or an appointment can be pretty stressful, so try to plan backward and start your routine 20 minutes earlier than you’d normally start. For example, if you need to get your children to school at 08:30 and it takes you an hour to get organised, wake-up at 07:10 and start your day calmly. A good start often results in a good day!
Steps: take lots of little steps rather than giant strides (it’s how I write my articles!). If you feel like you’re always chasing the day, break up your tasks into small chunks and complete them step-by-step. You’ll find that pacing yourself like a marathon runner leaves you calmer than if you’re racing the same distance like a sprinter.
So remember the serenity of PLANTS (Pause … Leave … Accept … Not This … Twenty … Steps) and also try to learn that all of the steps above will be more effective if you reflect on the teacher in front of you. I’ve mentioned this in previous newsletters: try to look at situations as teachers, especially uncomfortable ones such as those which result in arguments; learn from the situations instead of whinging about them.
William James, American philosopher, psychologist and physician (1842 – 1910) put it very succinctly:
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
And that’s what PLANTS is all about, using the power of your mind to choose … thus experiencing the calm before the calm!
mi-yogaḥ offers number of tools in the form of Yoga Therapy practices that teaches you to manage your stress and bring you back to balance.
Also visit the reserach page to see evidence and studies conducted on how Yoga Therapy helps to releve stress and stress related disorders.
I would love to hear your comments and what you experience if you apply any of the tips described above in your daily routine.