We all know the feeling.
The shortness of breath, fluttery heart (and not in a just-met-my-crush kind of way), tight chest and boggled mind…it seems the world is going to end and the walls are going to fall down.
And it feels like the only option is to scream.
In these moments, I realize that this is what it takes in order to see the greatness of everything else.
In these moments I realize, without them, I would not be able to appreciate how clear other moments can be.
Thanks to the following tips and tricks I have picked up along the way, these moments seem to occur less often. Read, relish, and take away the ones that feel right, knowing that no single tip is the answer. These are simply a few tools that I use to help me along my daily path:
Literally stop everything. Don’t talk. Don’t run. Don’t hide. Take seven deep breaths. Inhale to a count of four, and exhale to a slower count of four. It’s amazing what just a couple minutes of calming the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” nervous system, and activating the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” nervous system can do in a moment of freak-out.
Go do a favorite activity. Run, yoga, swim. Get the heart rate up. Break a sweat. This reminds us that we are alive and that everything is going to be okay.
Get the body and mind on the same level. When the mind is running a race and the body is just sitting there watching it happen, bringing the body up to the mind’s speed can actually help slow everything down and give us a bit of perspective. Sweat is a physical way to clean the body, and it can definitely help to clean out whatever it is that is dirtying up the mind.
3. Do something scary.
There’s never a better time for growth and development than in a moment of uncertainty. What scares you? See that fear, and do it anyway. Shock the system into believing that there is always something on the other side: happiness, clarity, love, life. The perspective-altering adrenaline will never come unless we jump.
Put it on paper. Get it all out in the open. By working thoughts out on paper, we can take a third person perspective on whatever it is that our minds are trying to work out. Making an idea concrete by putting it on paper gives us space to then reflect on it in the future and sometimes helps us realize that the idea that was taking over the mind might not actually be so concrete after all. Similarly, write down goals. Use a dry erase marker and write two goals on the bathroom mirror: one daily goal, and one long-term goal. The smack in the face everyday is a great motivator and a friendly reminder to stay on top of what we want in life.
5. Lastly, my favorite.
I enter my address into Google Earth, then zoom out. Slowly. First I see the roof of my house. Then I look at my neighborhood, taking a moment to notice the placement of my house in relation to my neighbors. Then I see my town, continuing to zoom out and acknowledging how small my living room seems when compared to my state, then country. I notice where I am on this planet and how my placement compares to the rest of the Earth. I keep zooming out. I see the solar system. Get the picture? The big picture? I am always amazed at how truly the most minute things can set me off into a spiral of oblivion. When I physically see and take in how beautifully small I am in comparison to the big picture, things don’t seem quite so life-altering.
What tools do you use to keep on keepin’ on?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Hannah Harris/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Audrey Halu (used with permission)