21 Nov 4 ways to stay calm during stressful times
Although it’s not possible to be calm ALL the time, there’s no doubt that having the ability to stay calm, especially during times of stress, can be very helpful.
In fact, you could say calm is a type of happiness; it can reduce the intensity and duration of negative emotions and promote and enhance positive emotions including happiness.
So if you’d like to learn how to stay calm more often…
via the Ladders by Emma Seppala
A sense of calm offers us strength and resilience amid the chaos of life.
Life throws chaos at us on a regular basis—whether it’s our finances, our relationships, or our health. In the work world, around 50 percent of people are burned out in industries like health care, banking, and nonprofits, and employers spend $300 billion per year on workplace-related stress.
In response, we just keep on pushing through, surviving on adrenaline. We overschedule ourselves; we drink another coffee; we respond to one more email. If we stay amped up all the time, we think, we’ll eventually be able to get things done.
But all that does is burn us out, drain our productivity, and lead to exhaustion.
There’s another way—a calmer way. Cultivating a more restful, relaxed state of mind doesn’t mean we’ll drown under all our responsibilities. Instead, research suggests it will bring us greater attention, energy, and creativity to tackle them. And science also points to simple ways we can tap into that calm state of mind to be more resilient in our chaotic lives.
A stressed mind vs. a calm mind
Stress was never meant to be a 24/7 experience. As Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky explains, you’re really only supposed to feel stressed in the five minutes right before you die.
When you are being chased in the savanna by a wild animal, your stress response is supposed to save your life—it mobilizes your attention, muscles, and immune system to get you quickly out of danger. When animals escape, they come right out of fight-or-flight mode and into “rest-and-digest” mode, where the parasympathetic nervous system is working to replenish their resources.
That stress response is supposed to be short-lived because it wears down your body, your health, and your energy. It also impacts things like your emotional intelligence and your decision making. When you’re tightly wound up, you are more likely to react to situations than to respond with reason.
You also perceive the world differently. Stress makes us narrowly focused, preventing us from seeing the bigger picture. When we’re calmer, our attention becomes broader. In fact, we literally see more things. In one study, participants went through a three-month meditation training.
They then engaged in something called the attentional blink task, in which you watch images appear rapidly one after another. Usually, when people do this exercise, their attention doesn’t pick up all of the target images.
But after that mindfulness training, participants were able to pick up more of the target images than pre-retreat—suggesting that their state of mind had become more attentive.Never miss an article!Follow Ladders on Flipboard
Being able to attend more means that you notice more things about other people and you’re able to communicate with them in more powerful ways. High stress and anxiety (or any kind of negative emotion) make us self-focused, for an evolutionary reason: When our ancestors were stressed, it was because they were in a survival situation. It was good to be focused on yourself so you could save your life.
When we’re stressed, we’re less likely to notice if a colleague looks burned out or sad and more likely to get irritated if they don’t perform as we expect. However, when you’re in a calmer and happier place, that’s probably the day when you will have more empathy: You’ll notice your colleague and take the time to reach out and ask if there’s anything you can do to support them.
When you’re calm, you also manage your energy because you’re not burning yourself up constantly, spending your days with your sympathetic nervous system in overdrive. Calm helps you focus on what you need to do and get it done much more quickly.
Calmness can also impact your creativity. Research suggests that our most creative ideas come in moments when we’re not actively focused or stressed. We are most creative when our brain is in alpha wave mode, which is a relaxed state of mind—like when you’re in the shower or taking a walk in nature. Indeed, people who go on an immersive nature retreat for four days come back with 50 percent increased creativity.
If you want to get the most out of yourself in terms of your productivity, creativity, and innovation—making progress at work or just solving the basic problems of life that you’re faced with—calm is the key.
How to cultivate a calm state of mind
We know how to become stressed. Most of us are really good at activating our adrenal system and getting wound up. The question becomes, then, how do you wind down? Research suggests several practices that not only feel good but also put us into a calmer, more relaxed state—a state from which we can cope better with whatever life throws at us…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE