In today’s fast-paced world, which is filled with stress and constant distraction, finding calm is far from easy. In this guest feature, Thijs Launspach, a Psychologist, Author and TEDX keynote speaker, provides six tips on how to bring genuine peace into one’s life.
Creating peace and calm in your head requires a lot more than making yourself a cup of herbal tea, though this does no harm, of course.
To find a genuine sense of calm, you need to go a lot further and tackle things like managing your time more efficiently and making clear choices about where (and where not) to focus your attention.
These tips will help you to bring more calm to your life and relieve stress. Take it from me: all of this can make your life a lot more enjoyable.
1. Turn off all notifications on your devices
One of the main sources of stress is the many different devices we use throughout the day. Our telephones, laptops and tablets overload us with information, even when we’re not looking for it. Once you receive a notification, it will stay in your head until you do something with it – that’s just the way our brains are wired – including when you are busy doing something else.
Turning off all notifications will result in fewer interruptions, less switching and consequently less stress. You will still have access to all the information, but only when you decide to access it yourself.
2. Keep your head as empty as possible
What things are currently fighting for attention inside your head? Most of us have a lot going on in our minds at any given moment. If there are too many bits of information demanding your attention, it can result in a permanent kind of background noise, like when there are too many tabs open in your internet browser.
With a mind full of stuff, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Train yourself to write down things that occupy your mind instead of storing them in your memory. The emptier your head, the more space you will have for the stuff that really counts.
3. ‘Good enough’ is good enough
Try experimenting with lowering the bar in terms of what you demand of yourself. Chances are that others will not even notice – if you’re a perfectionist, your personal standards are probably a lot higher than what others generally expect from you. ‘Good enough’ is good enough: this is true more often than you might think.
4. Train your attention
In these days of constant distraction, being able to focus your attention is like a superpower. Luckily, there are ways to train your ability to focus. Mindfulness exercises can be a great help.
Here’s one simple exercise: go to the window and sit and stare outside for ten minutes. When you find yourself becoming distracted by your own thoughts, refocus your attention on whatever it was you were looking at.
5. Do NOTHING more often
Try experimenting with the noble art of cancelling stuff. You don’t have to stick to your appointments simply because they are in your diary. It’s okay to cancel things as long as you do this diplomatically and in a timely manner. And who knows, the other person might be just as relieved as you are when you do…
6. Just breathe
By becoming more conscious of how you breathe, you can lower your stress level in a matter of minutes. Breathing deeply slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, which results in a less troubled mind.
You can delay or even eliminate your stress response simply by doing a few breathing exercises. It helps just to breathe calmly in through your nose and out through your mouth for a few minutes.
For a deeper form of relaxation, try breathing in less frequently but more deeply using the 4-7-8 technique: inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds. Sounds simple, but it works like a charm.
Thijs Launspach is a psychologist, TEDX keynote speaker and author of Crazy Busy: Keeping Sane in a Stressful World.
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