It’s been nearly 12 months since the pandemic changed our lives.
As someone who spends their life teaching personal transformation, I am super curious about listening to people’s stories and ways of navigating the emotional ride of the pandemic.
One of the things I have noticed in people who have navigated it as smoothly as possible and not to the detriment of their mental health and well-being is their ability to manage their “state” of being. By state, I mean that they have awareness of their internal landscape and can create thoughts and feelings that help them rather than hinder them.
Our state is our way of being at any moment in time. We experience it from the inside and it influences how we respond to our external environment. A calm state allows us to access our rational mind and our inner wisdom. A fearful state can leave us vulnerable to erratic and more disrupted thinking. States of being are what we create ourselves and we have the ability to choose our state at any given moment.
So in the context of the pandemic, my observations from my clients and friends have been that those in a state of frenzy, anxiety, and fear have found themselves in more distress and suffering than those who have been calm and present.
Science informs us that when we feel stressed or anxious the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones, which create physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger that we are perceiving, whether it is a real threat or an imagined one.
Where the pandemic has very much been a real threat, the way we respond to it impacts our way of being throughout it.
The good news is that it is possible to learn how to create resourceful states of being that harness a healthy mind and body.
Here are three ways that you can do this:
1. Balancing your nervous system.
Too much sympathetic dominance (fight-or-flight response), can create a surge of adrenalin and cortisol in our system, leaving us vulnerable to short-term and long-term effects of stress.
One of the quickest ways to balance your nervous system is to regulate your breathing.
The HeartMath Institute recommends that you breathe in about five to six seconds and breathe out five to six seconds. Ensure that your breathing is smooth, unforced, and comfortable. Practicing this throughout the day and remembering to balance your breathing will help you to maintain a system of balance rather than stress.
2. Self-Check and Self-Edit.
In order to change our state, we have to first create awareness of it. Many of us are not consciously aware of our internal state and how it is impacting our day-to-day health and well-being.
Try this self-check to observe your state:
>> Take a moment to take three deep breaths and stop what you are doing.
>> Notice your senses. Feel your feet on the floor and notice what you can see around you. What sounds can you hear? What feelings and sensations do you have in your body?
>> Now, bring your attention to your thoughts. What do you notice about them? Are they fast or slow? Are they loud or quiet? What are they saying?
>> Are these thoughts helping you to feel good and calm? Or are they creating anxiety, fear, and worry?
Now, try this self-edit:
Once you have created awareness of your state of being, now you can choose how you want it to be.
If it is serving you in a positive way, then great carry on doing what you are doing.
If it isn’t, then you might want to change something. You could:
>> Slow down your breathing
>> Tell yourself that your thoughts will pass
>> Create a positive image that makes you feel good
As we change one part of our internal system, then other parts will change. Change your breathing and your thoughts will calm. Change your thoughts and your breathing will change.
3. Change your physiology.
We can get stuck in states of being that are causing us distress and not know how to get out of them. Another quick way to change your state is to move your body into action. You can lift your head, put a smile on your face, move from the position you are in, and change what you are doing. You can relax your muscles, release your jaw from tension, and relax your facial muscles. Every emotion has muscle tension and a breathing pattern. So changing your physiology will help to change your internal emotional state.
As a coach and NLP trainer, I believe that we are not broken, nor do we need fixing. It is useful to remember that our state changes throughout the day and the more awareness we have of our state, the more choice we have in choosing the one we want.
We learn states of being and we can get stuck in these unresourceful states if we do not regularly check our mental, emotional, and physical health. Many of us let these states continue unchecked causing detrimental effects to our health and well-being. Once we create awareness and understanding about our internal processes, we gain insight into how to change states that are harming our health and well-being.
There are many positive states that we can access such as fun, joy, curiosity, love, compassion, and excitement. The good news is that the more we practise accessing these states and living life from them, the happier, healthier, and more fulfilled we become in every area of our lives.
Navigating our state of being throughout any of life’s challenges, allows us to have emotional freedom and find a way of being that harnesses the flow, rather than resists the ups and downs of life.