When your head is full of thoughts. When you’re worried or scared. When you’re tired and just can’t be bothered any more. When you’re tense. When you’re in pain. When you’re so overwhelmed that you think you’re just going to go into melt-down. When burnout feels around the corner.
It can feel impossible to know what to do.
But there is something you can always do to help yourself. To reconnect back to yourself. To self-soothe. To come back from the brink.
I know because I’ve experienced all of these myself. The tension, overwhelm, exhaustion and whizzing mind.
They still sometimes creep up on me, but now I know what to do to stop them in their tracks and recover my equilibrium.
I take these 3 simple but powerful steps. Give them a try and see how they work for you.
1. Reconnect to your body
Bring yourself out of your mind and the top two inches of your body and make a conscious effort to move your attention into your left foot.
Give your toes a wriggle.
Take your full awareness into the left foot and notice what sensations you can detect.
Connect to the feeling of your foot on the ground. Or the sensations of touch where your foot meets your shoe.
This is a simple but effective technique to get out of your head and the worries which are fuelling your body’s stress response, and into a place of just being in the now and present.
2. Take some mindful breaths
Breathe with awareness to come back from the brink of overwhelm.
When we’re in that place of stress our breathing becomes shallow and tight and fast.
Harness your breath and calm both body and mind.
Sit and close your eyes for a few moments. Breathe. Don’t try to change anything. Let the breath come, let the breath go.
And softly check in with yourself – where do you most easily and readily feel your breath moving in your body?
It may be the sensation of the cool in-breath and the warmer out-breath at your nostrils. Or the delicate flow of the air over your upper lip.
It may be the feeling of the air as if moves through your throat.
Or may it’s in the natural rise and fall at your chest and/or abdomen.
Identify the safe harbour of where you feel your breathing, so you can drop anchor into the sea of now in challenging times.
3. Repeat these words to yourself
I’ve written before the power of repeating the words “It is as it is” in challenging times.
I often reach for the simple power of Buddhist teachings. They make so much sense.
Here’s another mantra for you:
This moment is like this.
This moment is how it is. Maybe you need to take action to change your situation at some point soon.
But this moment? Well it’s how it is. Breathe. Let it be.
So often we cause ourselves pain because we struggle with thinking we “shouldn’t” feel like this, or we “shouldn’t” be doing that.
And we berate ourselves for the struggle. Creating layer upon layer of hurt.
Then we try to push them away and cause ourselves more feelings of shame and frustration.
Try this instead.
Accept the feelings. Can you sit with them? What deeper messages do they have for you?
And let them be. Breathe. Let them go.
This moment is like this.
This anger is like this.
This sadness is like this.
This grief is like this.
This happiness is like this.
This joy is like this.
…Let the thoughts and feelings come and go.
Practise feeling the sensations in your body which comes with the thoughts and feelings so you get familiar with your patterns.
Keep taking these 3 steps through daily life.
And you will begin to connect to that place, deep inside you, of knowing. That inner sanctuary of peace and resilience. A well of wisdom. A space of love.