Saturday August 30th 2014

7 Tips for Enhancing Your Calm

Enhance your calm.If you're like me, you have moments when anxiety creeps up on you, jumps on your back, and tries to wrestle you to the ground. Moments when employers are evaluating the quality of your work, when you're interviewing for a job and you have to find out who thinks you are valuable and who doesn't and why. Not to mention relational mishaps and various other life situations. 

How do you handle anxiety? Everyone's different. Me? I have a very hard time shifting gears once anxiety has set in. I don't do pills or professional therapy, so that leaves me with more natural / do it yourself types of coping. Let's take a quick look at some ways I overcome anxiety:

1. Soothing music
Elevator music doesn't qualify. My #1 album for soothing nerves is Sade's "Lovers Rock." #2 would be Josh Groban's "Closer." Andrea Bocelli used to be my #1, but I've worn out his albums and have to wait to listen more. 

2. Nature
This only works given the right seasons of the year and/or geographic location. When I spent two years at a mortgage company, I spent a LOT of my time outside. I let the sun warm my face as the breeze lazily moved the tree tops and birds chirped away in those branches. It was my momentary paradise, and it brought a sense of calm. 

3. Nutrients
Certain herbs and supplements help to improve mood. Sublingual B vitamins uplifts mood by promoting energy and positive outlook, and liquid chlorophyll helps the body feel hydrated. Both are essential to a sense of well-being. 

4. Smells
While my wife was pregnant, we shopped for scented essential oils at Whole Foods Market. We also did some study to find out which smells affect mood in which ways. Despite the fact that I don't especially care for the smell, Ylang Ylang really works wonders on my mood, as does sandalwood and honeysuckle (not together). We bought one of those little oil burners and we just put a few drops into it and light one of those really small and cheap candles beneath it. The room is filled with fragrance and your mind can slowly drift into a better mood. 

5. Scenic Walks
Though I don't get the chance to do it anymore, I used to love walking around the canal in Las Colinas. I'd eat my lunch quickly and then take a 20+ minute walk along the canal. Something about water calms me. The mild exercise is good as well for increasing metabolism and shaking off feelings of slothfulness and lethargy. 

6. Computer Games
When I need to mentally check out for a good 20 minutes to regroup, I play Chess, Spider Solitaire, or Hearts. They're simple games that don't require a long time to play, but the distraction helps me regroup when my mind is stuck on something stressful or a deadline is pressing in on me. 

7. IMing my wife
A quick IM session with my wife will always boost my spirits. She is such a huge encouragement to me. We share the feeling that we are in this together, and we encourage each other when it's tough. Just talking to her removes that feeling of "I'm all alone in this problem." I don't even have to share my problems with her. I just want to know that someone is on my side. That's enough. 

There are a few others, including re-reading specific verses in the Bible, that help me as well. Sometimes I learn a truth and forget it. Revisiting truths that bring calm and peace are essential to actually improving your thoughts long-term.

The first seven are coping mechanisms. But the more permanent improvement of your mood comes from training your mind to think thoughts that are good and true. Meditating on positive and peaceful thoughts (thinking about them again and again) help you switch trains of thought in your brain and your mind will learn over time to habitually think better thoughts instinctively, which is what you really want. Unlearning the negative responses to thoughts takes some time, but really, what is more important than feeling good and enjoying a fulfilling life? You'll do what it takes when it's important enough to you to get results. Even if doing what it takes means beginning by asking questions. 

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  • http://www.gonzo-seo.com/ pratt

    Great post, Daniel. I was searching everywhere for great tips like this yesterday. I think the one that works best for me is playing video games. Oddly enough it is such a great way to take your mind off of everything else. I’m surprised how refreshing it can be.

  • http://www.culturefeast.com Daniel Dessinger

    Sure thing, Taylor. Anything for a Twitter friend.

  • Ashleigh

    I only mention this because Daniel mentioned that he doesn’t go the therapy route. I understand that therapy/counseling/whatever you want to call it isn’t for everyone, but I know that it’s helped me immensely. It’s so great to go talk to someone for an hour at a time, and not have to worry about if you’re talking about yourself too much. He or she is paid to do nothing but listen to you talk about your problems, so talk until you’re blue in the face. Get your money’s worth! The best part: my sessions have helped me think differently. I’m able to analyze my thoughts in a more productive and constructive way, which will one day enable me to end my sessions and be balanced on my own.

  • http://www.culturefeast.com Daniel Dessinger

    For the record, I’m not opposed to therapy. I don’t want you to think I’m judging anyone. Do what you have to do to enjoy a quality life.

    I personally don’t do professional therapy or pills, but that’s only because I don’t want to depend on the therapist and pills are toxic. I use my wife, parents, my journal, and close friends to talk through my problems.

    Taylor Pratt had asked a question on Twitter, asking for suggestions on how to handle stress or anxiety. I just threw this together for his sake mostly.

    So please don’t take offense. I endorse practically any method of genuinely improving quality of life.

  • Hope King

    I think that you cannot always depend on your wife, her parents and your friends. You sometimes need an unbiased opinion away from the situation.

    I have a very strong family and friend support group but found I have been better served by going to family counseling with the whole gang. Does therapy solve the your problems–NO. However, it does give you a dialog.

  • http://www.culturefeast.com Daniel Dessinger

    That would depend on your friends. I have different sets of friends, and some of them I wouldn’t go to with my serious problems anyway. Some of them, however, I definitely would. No one’s perfect, and no one understands me perfectly.

    No one group of people meets all my needs. That’s for sure. I share my intimate thoughts and dreams and fears with my wife. But some burdens I don’t share with her because she has her own to bear.

    I have a group of guys at my church. We hang out every week, and share our stuff. We pray over each other and meet any needs possible. Less of an advice type thing, and more of an identifying with each other and then covering needs in prayer. It’s really been amazing.

    I feel bad for people who don’t have that kind of support. Men especially don’t have good uplifting friends very often. We get isolated and our best and only friend is often our wife. That sounds okay until you realize that she’s not a man and can’t identify with man problems. You need the right support for each situation and that means different groups for different parts of your life.

  • Ashleigh

    I didn’t think that you were denouncing therapy AT ALL. I was simply giving a perspective on therapy since you didn’t really touch on it.

    It took me years to get into therapy, and even longer to tell people that I was in therapy, so I like to try to erase the stigma around it anytime I can. Just broadening the Culture Feast dialogue.

    Thanks for a great starting point with the blog, Daniel. Relaxation and stress relief are a never-ending battle for everyone in this day and age, and if anyone tells you they don’t have a problem with it, they’re lying! ;)

  • Eriness

    Maybe we should all talk to your wife to relax. :-)

  • http://www.culturefeast.com Daniel Dessinger

    Hmm… somehow, I’m thinking that won’t work as well for the rest of you, Erinness. :)

  • http://www.therapycounseling.com therapy counseling

    I went to therapy counseling when I had problems with my husband. The person who I talked to was very helpful.

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