Have you ever tried to remain calm during a big storm? I like to think that our lives are like the weather. Some days are sunny, and we are happy, full of energy, and feel great. Other days are cloudy, and we are just ok, and some other days are cold and wet, meaning that we feel bummed out. Then, there are days when we have terrible weather with strong thunderstorms, hail, tornados, or hurricanes that agitate and disrupt everything within us. This bad weather represents the difficult situations that we encounter in life, like an illness diagnosis for us or a loved one, accidents, the death of a loved one, losing our job, broken relationships, financial problems, and so on.
Nobody likes terrible weather because it comes with strong winds filled with stress, fear, anger, depression, and anxiety. To dig more into this metaphor of seeing our lives as the weather, we notice that we can have a weather forecast telling us that a storm, tornado, or hurricane is coming and that it can last several days, weeks, months or even years. So, the forecast tells us to be prepared, take precautions, evacuate, but most importantly, to remain calm.
When I looked up for the definition of the word “calm” in Merriam-Webster dictionary this is what I found:
Calm – noun: a period or condition of freedom from storms, high winds, or rough activity of water
Calm – adjective: free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance
So, the big question is:
How can we remain calm when problems hit us like a storm?
We all are different and handle problems differently. What works for me to remain calm might not work for you in the same way and vice versa. The important thing is to know what works for each of us, so we can put it in practice at any time when terrible weather hit our lives. It is like having at hand different umbrellas, ponchos, jackets, boots, materials and tools, and picking the right one for the kind of weather we will need to deal with.
8 Techniques to remain calm:
We all know that deep breathing helps us calm down and lower our heart rate. In a stressful moment, “take a deep breath” is what we usually tell ourselves to do, and it is the first advice everybody will give us. However, the interesting thing about breathing is that it is not just about a deep inhale and exhale; it is about practicing the right technique depending on the situation. It is about how we do it, and the frequency and length of each breath. In my research about breathing, I found a useful article called 6 breathing exercises that can help you relax in ten minutes or less. Let’s try them and see what effects each one has on us.
Meditation has been practiced for thousand of years and is an approved technique to calm down and relax. Like breathing, there are different forms of meditation that we can try to see which one works better for us. There are millions of videos and websites about meditation, but I found out this article a good one to start. 4 Calming Meditation Techniques
In my personal experience, visualization is my favorite form of meditation. I visualize myself in my favorite place, the beach, and start thinking about everything I like about it. The sun, the ocean, the waves, the sand, and so on. I put all my 5 senses there and submerge in that experience.
It is a state of full awareness in which we focus on the present moment without interpretation or judgment. Mindfulness has been proved to have positive benefits in reducing stress and anxiety because it helps us to focus on the present and not in the past and future. How many times do we go in autopilot without paying attention to what is going on inside us and around us? Being and living in the present is the art of practicing mindfulness. There is an interesting test you can take to measure your level of mindfulness. I took it and got 3.5 points, which means I have a lot of work to do in this area. If you want to learn more about mindfulness, you can read this article: The Benefits of Mindfulness.
4. Keeping ourselves busy or entertained:
Sometimes the best way to calm down is by keeping ourselves busy to not have time to think too much. We know that when we have a problem, too much thinking is the worst remedy to keep us calm, generally because we let negative thoughts control our minds. So, to control our thoughts, we need to put our bodies and minds to work in something different and make sure to do it practicing mindfulness so we can focus only on what we are doing at that specific moment.
Some ideas to keep ourselves busy or entertained are:
- Keep doing what we have to do unless it is too overwhelming.
- Listening to music and singing or dancing our favorite songs. I love to listen and whistle “Don’t worry be happy” by Bobby Mc. Ferrin or any reggae song from Bob Marley
- Taking a long and relaxing shower or bath
- Doing something we enjoy like cooking, reading, gardening, or watching a movie
- Helping someone. Helping not only keeps us busy but also makes us feel good
Going to the gym, running, biking, or just going for a walk can help us to regain calm. It has been proved that exercising reduces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. If we are in the middle of a storm, let’s make exercise a must. It doesn’t matter if we go out and run miles and miles like Forest Gump and someone else I know, or if we just walk around the block. Our body and mind will always benefit from exercising and even better if we can do it outdoor, taking fresh air.
6. Find someone to talk to:
Talking with a friend or any other person that we feel comfortable with can do wonders in reducing our level of stress, anger, or anxiety. Let’s remember that when we have problems, we tend to see everything from our point of view, which we have to recognize is limited. Talking to someone else can help us in three different ways. First, it allows us to let out our feelings and decompress from all the negative thoughts and emotions we are retaining inside ourselves. Second, having someone who listen and understand us will help us calm down because we will feel we are not alone. Third, we can get a different perspective from the other person who might see things that we are not able to see by ourselves.
When deciding to talk with someone, let’s try to do it in person over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. A personal interaction opens the opportunity to talk about other things, not only our problems. It also can make us smile, laugh, or get a hug which we all know are great remedies to reduce stress.
7. Give thanks:
Counting our blessings and giving thanks is one of the techniques that I have found helps me the most to remain calm during terrible weather. Giving thanks is what can help us change the perspective of how we see things during terrible and scary storms. It is the art of focusing on what we have instead of what we don’t have. It is also looking back to our past and be thankful for what we had the opportunity to enjoy, create, give, and lived. Giving thanks help us realize that to live a better life, we should not center our lives around our problems. We should always center our lives around our blessings.
8. Connecting with God:
In my opinion, connecting with God is the greatest way to find calm. By connecting, I mean creating a closer relationship with him. We can do this through praying, opening ourselves and having conversations with him, going to church for service or just for a quiet time, loving, forgiving, helping others, reading the bible, giving thanks, asking for forgiveness and guidance, singing songs to praise him, and so on.
Sometimes our storms are so strong that we don’t see a way out. During those difficult moments, we always look desperately for hope and for someone to hold and help us hang in there. For me, that someone is God.
We all know that we will have lots of storms in our lives. Some of them small, and some of them very strong and scary. We also know that to survive any storm, the first thing we have to do is to remain calm because getting frantic and worry won’t help us in any way. However, even though we know we have to stay calm, sometimes we can’t just do it, and one of the reasons is because we don’t know how to do it.
Like anything we want to get better in life, we first need to educate ourselves about it, and then we have to try and practice what we learned. The same happens with the art of remaining calm. If we want to develop that skill, we need to educate ourselves about the different techniques to calm down and practice them regularly to see which one works better for us.
So, if our lives are like the weather and sometimes we can even have access to our weather forecast, let’s take the prevention approach and prepare ourselves the best way possible to deal with the storms that can hit our lives. Let’s put the word calm into action with the certainty that our problems won’t last forever, and after any storm, the sun will always come out again.
Here is a question for you?
- What do you do to remain calm during a terrible storm?
Here is an interesting Ted Talk about “calm.” I hope you have the time to watch it.
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