3 Science-Backed Ways to Calm Down When You’re Overwhelmed

3 Science-Backed Ways to Calm Down When You’re Overwhelmed

via Mindful.org by Tim Desmond

Looking around today, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that our world is screwed. Of course, there’s a lot of beauty in the world, too; but the sheer magnitude of violence, greed, hatred, and straight-up stupidity can be overwhelming if we pay attention and care about what’s happening around us.

What’s more terrifying, though? When good-hearted people get overwhelmed by all of it, lose touch with their humanity, and stop caring.

The challenge of staying human in the middle of this comes down to how we respond to the suffering around us and in ourselves. If we despair and give up, that’s not helpful; on the other hand, it also doesn’t help if we allow self-righteousness to poison us with indignation. Whether we are hurting because of our own problems or from witnessing the pain of others, we have to learn how to take care of our compassionate natures, so we don’t get overwhelmed.

In my book, How to Stay Human in a F*cked-Up World, I write about how a meditation practice can help you to cultivate an open heart in the face of so much suffering. These teachings can be applied to a formal sitting meditation practice, or just used to develop new ways to relate to yourself. Here are some of the things I’ve found helpful—supported by science—that you can do yourself when the world becomes too much.

The part of life that’s beautiful

When everything around you seems f***ed up, it’s easy to think nothing good exists—or even if it did, it wouldn’t matter. However, if you only pay attention to what’s painful in your life, you will inevitably end up exhausted and overwhelmed. Since we tend to keep bad stuff in our minds more than good stuff, we need to actively seek out what’s beautiful in life to overcome this natural negativity bias.

And we should, because experiencing positive emotions—like happiness and awe—can give us the energy we’ll need to be more involved in caring for others.

One practice I offer in my book is to list all of the conditions for happiness that are present in your life right now—maybe things you take for granted, like having a warm bed or having a close friend. Every moment contains infinite causes for happiness and infinite causes for suffering. The condition of our minds depends on what we’re paying attention to. So, we train ourselves not to forget what’s beautiful…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE