For the last 12 months, we have largely dealt with a pandemic that has severely affected our health, wealth and general wellbeing.
Another tough ban brings new challenges – but at least with the introduction of a mass vaccination program against Covid-19, the end is in sight.
Now, however, another pandemic is beginning to set in – a psychological one that is directly related to the acute sense of danger we have lived with for so long.
Every therapist I know tells me that their skills have never been in demand as they are now. You are inundated with requests for help from people suffering from stress, insomnia, low self-esteem, strained relationships, and a general feeling of unhappiness.
I get that. Many mornings during this pandemic, I woke up feeling troubled by something I can’t fully address – unsettled by goodness-know-what – before I had a chance even three feet To ask ground.
Every therapist I know tells me that their skills have never been in demand as they are now. You are inundated with requests for help from people suffering from stress, insomnia, low self-esteem, strained relationships, and a general feeling of unhappiness, says Paul McKenna (above).
I would be surprised if you hadn’t felt more or less a similar sense of foreboding over the past few months.
Perhaps you have also seen that your sleep is disturbed and you are not motivated. So much insecurity has marred your confidence in your own abilities.
People often tell me that their relationships with family and friends seem particularly broken right now.
Let me first give you some reassurance: this is all perfectly normal.
As you take action every day to achieve what you want it becomes a habit. Write your BIG goals in a place where you can see them. Take at least one action each day that will get you closer to achieving it.
These are the manifestations of stress and worry that we as humans are pre-programmed to respond to when we run into a long-term crisis like this.
The coronavirus has turned our world upside down.
It can help you know that there is a scientific explanation for how we feel.
For a year now, part of our brain, the amygdala, in which we process feelings of threat and fear and which trigger a fight or flight response, has been stimulated strongly and constantly.
Think about it: At every turn we have been advised to remain vigilant – making sure to protect ourselves and keep our loved ones and those who care for us safe.
This, of course, is a crucial message that we must take to heart.
It is not surprising, however, that a collective state of such high alert has also affected our emotional well-being. The result is the psychological crisis that develops around us.
It has been reported that more than six million people were prescribed antidepressants in the three months leading up to September, the highest number ever recorded.
The coronavirus has turned our world upside down. It can help you know that there is a scientific explanation for how we feel
A survey by the Office of National Statistics, conducted at the start of the first national lockdown, found that around half of the UK adult population – around 25 million people – reported having high levels of anxiety.
That’s more than double the number of people (21 percent) who suffered from the same stress in another study in the last three months of 2019.
But please do not think that this means that we have become helpless in the face of a tsunami of fear and worry.
Although we feel locked up again, it is possible to use this time to move forward so that on the other hand we feel mentally stronger, not weaker.
My strategies to help you cope
First of all, you need to think of your brain as a brilliant computer that has its own software to organize your thinking and behavior.
Next, you need to realize your own ability to reprogram this computer: stop the negative programs running in your subconscious and replace them with software that instead fills it with positive thoughts and feelings.
Don’t look back angry
How would you feel if you were almost at the end of your life and hadn’t made the changes you wanted? What would you do or not do?
Again, imagine you are at that point but you took these steps. How is this future different? What inspires you to live this way or not?
Jim Ryun, former US politician and Olympic athlete, said: “Motivation is the starting point. Habit is what keeps you going. ‘
We can all motivate each other if we try. If your house was on fire, would you sit on the sofa until your favorite show ends before calling firefighters and getting yourself out of there?
If you won the lottery, would you wait forever before collecting your millions? In these examples, the on / off switch for your motivation was something outside of you. But what if you could turn on your motivation without waiting for an external trigger?
What do you really want to be motivated for?
Starting today and through next week, I will be providing a lot of psychological insight into what you are feeling during these difficult times.
I will also explain why this happens and recommend various tricks and techniques that will be vital in helping you adjust negative thinking. There are five key areas that we will focus on: stress, confidence, happiness, sleep, and relationships.
My goal is to give you the tools you need to reprogram your own brain, relieve feelings of fear and stagnation, and rebuild feelings of hope and purpose.
The vaccination program gives a sense of an endpoint – something that has been withheld from us for so long. That means we can finally look to the future again.
And if we are to fully embrace all that the future has to offer, now is the time to nurture a more positive state of mind.
One morning I said to my wife, “I feel so flat.” I had just awakened from another troubled sleep that was plagued by nightmares.
She pointed out that since the beginning of the crisis I had a habit of having the TV news in the background almost every day – I fed my brain on a diet of constant bad news.
Many friends told me that they had done the same thing and that they were also feeling scared.
I came to the conclusion that staying in the know was important, even though it was important to stay informed. We trained to be afraid.
That would have been okay if that fear had protected us. After all, staying vigilant to keep the virus under control was important – but staying home, socially distancing yourself outdoors, wearing a mask, and washing our hands were the limits of our role in combating this threat .
I thought back to my pre-pandemic habits and remembered staying up to date by reading my daily newspaper, watching an evening news show, and checking the headlines online maybe two or three times a day.
When I came back to it, I would be kept informed and able to focus on everyday tasks without being constantly afraid.
I felt the benefits almost immediately as I started to sleep better and my anxiety levels subsided. I made a vow to stick with my system to stay updated, but not to be afraid during the current lockdown.
I suggest you do the same.
Find the Secret Signs of Stress: Do you feel moody? Make silly mistakes? These are all classic indicators that you struggle with – but there is a solution
I believe stress lies at the heart of so much modern malaise – it causes insomnia, makes us feel bad and miserable, and we feel disconnected from our loved ones and the rest of the world.
It is behind the terrible feeling of being out of life and just watching what is going on.
The problem is, many of us have gotten so used to being stressed out, especially in the past 12 months, that we no longer fully realize how normal feels.
Stress often goes unnoticed in the body for a long time and eventually shows up in the form of bad mood, loss of sense of humor, headaches, clashes, and silly mistakes
Psychologists refer to the cumulative effects of adapting to increasingly uncomfortable circumstances as “background stress”.
If you haven’t mastered the art of deep relaxation, you are likely experiencing exactly what you are experiencing.
The knot in your stomach, that foggy feeling in your brain – you kind of accepted that this is how you feel these days instead of realizing it as a response to stress.
Stress often goes unnoticed in the body for a long time and eventually shows up in the form of bad mood, loss of sense of humor, headaches, clashes, and silly mistakes.
Ultimately, it can lead to depression, anxiety, and illness.
This seems especially true when we are living through the Covid era where we had to go on with constant background stress with no clear end in sight.
Reset your worry thermostat
We are going through extremely worrying times. However, this exercise will help you reset your worry thermostat. First read the following instructions completely, then work through each step:
1 Think about something you were worried about. It could be related to Covid, such as, “What if I get the virus before my sting?”
2 Ask yourself, “What is the positive intention of this concern of mine?” Very often the answer is simply “protect me”.
3 Focus on three new ways you can think about it without triggering the stressful feelings. You may recall the sensible precautions you take to stay safe during the pandemic. from the fact that you have come this far without signing Covid and those measures seem to be working while you wait to get the vaccine.
4th Ask if you are really satisfied with this alternative to worry. If you hesitate, think back and ask him to resolve internal conflicts. You will know you are ready to move on when you are completely comfortable with your alternatives.
5 Imagine doing the things that protect you instead of worrying about what might or might not happen in the future. With practice, you will soon be using this simple method to every source of anxiety in your life and keeping your worry thermometer in check.
Fortunately, we now have a vaccination program. However, it might take a while to get started. Telling yourself, “After I get my sting, when my loved ones have been vaccinated, I’ll be less stressed out” is not the answer. That is, you are relying on an external event to resolve your fears.
Dr. Hans Selye, the father of modern stress research, remarked: “It is not the event, but our interpretation that arouses our emotional response.”
Therefore, we need to master the ability to control our response to stress. Otherwise, chronically poor mental health will be the permanent legacy of these troubled times.
Our bodies are really wonderful. Without you paying attention, your autonomic nervous system (ANS) beats your heart, your lungs breathes, and just the right amount of blood and oxygen is pumped around your body for everything to work.
The ANS consists of several parts. The most important of these when it comes to understanding and controlling your stress levels are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Imagine walking in the park on a nice sunny day. Suddenly a crazy dog appears around the corner and comes straight towards you. Do you turn around and run away or do you stay to defend yourself?
Swimming, running, yoga, or a bike ride will help you control your stress and experience more positive feelings.
Typically, however, you can get the same benefits from more strenuous exercise by simply taking 15-minute walks twice a day.
This is known as the “fight or flight” response – and it’s handled by the SNS, which floods your system with adrenaline and cortisol, and pumps extra blood and oxygen to your limbs so you can run away faster or fight with more strength.
The parasympathetic nervous system plays an entirely different role – it helps you rest and digest.
Let me explain how using the same scenario as before. Imagine again, you are walking in the park on a beautiful, sunny day. But this time there are no dogs and just the right number of people, with plenty of room for everyone.
You sit down to relax under a tree and your body begins to recharge – your heart beats slower, which in turn lowers your blood pressure and begins to digest whatever is in your system.
This is your body’s natural impulse to rest, relax, and recover, and is technically known as the parasympathetic response. Or as I describe it, “natural relaxation”.
Natural relaxation is that sweet, soft feeling you get in your muscles when you finish heavy work or vigorous movements.
You will also feel a natural high caused by the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates.
As wonderful as it feels, it would be virtually impossible to work if you had always felt this way. You’d be too relaxed to even get started. And so both systems work together.
Ideally, we spend most of our time walking in and out of a sense of relaxed alertness.
If we wanted to relax deeply, say, before falling asleep at night, we could do it quickly and easily.
But when the situation calls for it, we would immediately have an outbreak of “stress chemicals” so that we can respond appropriately to a potentially dangerous situation.
What we describe as “being stressed” is simply the result of one system (the stress response) doing too much and the other system (natural relaxation) not being used enough.
Even if you forget about Covid, everyone has some stress in their life, but hardly anyone has the skills to deal with it.
In normal times, a staggering 50 percent of the reasons people see a doctor are stress-related.
As we’ve already researched, the stress response originally evolved as something practical – a way for our ancestors to receive a burst of energy and strength that would enable them to fight a wild animal or run away.
But today, the attacks that our nervous system protects us from are not things to either fight or run away from.
Now, think about something that you have been stressed about: work, a relationship problem, or maybe a financial concern. Chances are there was no real physical danger – just discomfort.
Even with Covid, our fears are predominantly existential, there is nothing tangible to fight or flee from.
Unfortunately, the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between present danger and fearful thoughts.
This means that all you have to do is think of something bad to produce the same stress chemicals that your body needs to fight or flee. And without the physical activity they are designed to help you with, the body cannot eliminate them.
Over time, these stress chemicals build up become toxic to the mind and body.
The power of the hand on the heart
Your heart contains neurons that send information to the brain and affect your perceptions, emotions, and consciousness.
The heart is the physical control center that determines whether the stress response or natural relaxation should be triggered.
As you move your attention from your head to your heart, your body relaxes, your mind clears, and your brain releases chemical changes that cause natural relaxation
This is how it works. The brain takes in information through the senses. When it senses a real or imaginary threat, it sends a signal to the heart to produce adrenaline, cortisol, and other chemicals that increase the body’s ability to fight that threat or run away from it.
What is crucial, however, is that the heart can overwrite this signal.
When you move your attention from your head to your heart, your body relaxes, your mind clears, and your brain releases chemical changes that cause natural relaxation.
Try this exercise when you experience a stressful feeling in your body or you have an overly busy mind.
1. Put your hand on your heart. Inhale slowly and gently at least three times, focusing on your hand on your chest.
2. Now remember a time when you felt good. Return to this memory.
3. Ask your heart how you can take better care of yourself.
4. Listen to what your heart is saying and act as soon as possible.
Cradle your fears like a baby
Havening is a technique I’ve used to help front line workers deal with stress in the workplace: doctors, nurses, paramedics, rescue workers, and military personnel
Havening is a technique I’ve used to help frontline workers manage stress in the workplace: doctors, nurses, paramedics, rescue workers, and military personnel.
It’s a brilliant form of psychosensory therapy that uses touch to calm the body and mind.
It was created by Dr. Ronald Ruden, a neuroscience expert who discovered that patterns of repeated touches of body parts combined with specific eye movements and visualizations have a fast, reliable, and predictable effect on our emotions.
The touch patterns used in Havening simulate how your mother comforted you as a baby by cradling you in her arms. The calming effect of holding is hardwired in all infants.
Havening combines these patterns of calming with sequences to break up the associations that triggered unhappy feelings. As a result, we can reduce the intensity of an emotion and become calm in just a few minutes.
The tech isn’t just a distraction. Studies have shown that by using havening we reduce stress chemicals in our bodies and change the way our brains process thoughts and feelings.
The specific sequence given here will cause the way your brain interprets and reacts to stress to reset. Over time, it can permanently change the nerve pathways in your brain.
Practice these eye movements, body touches, and visualizations until you know them by heart. You can then use them at any time to drive away the misfortune.
First, notice the discomfort you are feeling and rate its strength from one to ten, with ten being the greatest. Then follow these steps:
1. Make yourself clear or think of something nice.
2. Cross your arms, put your hands on your shoulders, and close your eyes.
3. Caress your hands along the sides of your arms from your shoulders to your elbows, down and up again.
4. Imagine walking on a beautiful beach while stroking the sides of your arms. Count aloud from one to 20 with each step in the sand.
5. Keep your head still as you stroke your arms and move your eyes sideways to the left and right while still closed.
6. Keep stroking your arms as you imagine yourself going down a few steps, counting aloud with each step. Aim for 20 steps.
7. Open your eyes. If the feeling has increased significantly from one to ten, you have changed your state of mind. But if the unhappy feeling hasn’t been reduced enough, repeat the sequence.
You can deal with mistakes
When we were babies we had to learn to walk. At first, of course, we kept falling.
Fortunately, our parents didn’t watch us fail on every flop to the floor and declared ruefully, “Oh dear, looks like you’ll never be a hiker.”
No. They encouraged us to keep trying. That’s exactly what we did until we got up and walked confidently on our own two feet.
I define trust as a feeling of well-being in one’s own skin that is able to face everyday challenges, large or small, without being crippled by the fear of failure
Get up and go
Trust and motivation are similar concepts, but not exactly the same.
I see trust as an inner reassurance – having faith in yourself that whatever life throws at you will, by and large, survive the blows.
Motivation is more about getting up and walking, which means jumping out of bed every morning when the alarm goes off to enjoy the day.
People without motivation don’t feel the same drive – they get up because they won’t lose their job or miss the bus or their children don’t want to get up for school on time. They do things because they don’t want to deal with the problems that arise from staying under the covers.
In other words, they are driven by the fear of what will happen if they don’t get up as opposed to the willingness to accept what each day has to offer them.
Feeling safe is only half the recipe for success. If you just sat around all day feeling safe, your life wouldn’t change for the better. To really make a difference in your life you need to act consistently on a daily basis.
People are not born without confidence – we just learn to doubt ourselves as life goes on and everything doesn’t go according to plan.
I define trust as a feeling of well-being in one’s own skin that is able to face everyday challenges, large or small, without being crippled by the fear of failure.
That’s not to say that confident people don’t fail. . . do it.
Again and again, like when they first learned to walk. It’s just that they interpret failure as the beginning of a journey rather than the bleak ending.
Let’s start by thinking about something that you believe you have failed in your own life. And ask yourself, “Have I really failed?”
Remember, not winning is not the same as failure.
No one is rejected, nor do things turn out exactly the way you wanted them to.
With that in mind, the first question you should ask yourself is so what?
So you didn’t win. So what? So it didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to. So what? So you got rejected. So what?
Remind yourself now that you are still alive – and that means you have another chance tomorrow to do something even more wonderful than what you feel have failed you.
In addition, you have learned lessons that will help you be successful in the future.
This is critical when it comes to building trust. High achievers see what others call “failure” only as a temporary setback. They even look forward to finding new ways to overcome a challenge.
After accepting that things did not go as they hoped, they ask themselves questions like: What is unique about this problem? How can I use this to my advantage? What do I have to do next to be successful?
Lockdown creates the perfect storm for something to go wrong in life. But these simple exercises will show you … How to relieve tension
Our confidence is weakened when life happens. Perhaps a business fails, you get into an argument with your partner, or you find yourself juggling many tasks and responsibilities.
Lockdown creates the perfect storm for something to go wrong.
Trying to work from home while remote learning is monitored; spending a lot of time with your partner; being robbed of the company by colleagues to bounce off ideas or seek professional reassurance.
Not only do we need to be kind to one another in difficult times, we also need to be kind to ourselves. (File image)
So when something goes wrong, the first and foremost thing to do is forgive yourself. reminding yourself that none of this is intended as punishment for something you did or didn’t do – problems are part of life.
Not only do we need to be kind to one another in difficult times, we also need to be kind to ourselves.
The tools I want to share are the most reliable I know for overcoming difficulties and regaining confidence quickly no matter what is going on around you.
Take two fingers from each hand and tap directly over one of your eyebrows about ten times. Now tap under the same eye
We will tap specific acupuncture points on your body.
The idea behind this exercise is that the code for any stressful feeling is stored in your brain like a computer program.
Wenn Sie darüber nachdenken, was Sie beunruhigt, während Sie genau in der von mir beschriebenen Reihenfolge auf diese Punkte tippen, können Sie Ihre Angstzustände, Ihren Stress oder Ihre Überforderung schnell reduzieren und mit Ihrem Leben weitermachen.
Ich möchte, dass Sie gleich an eine stressige Erfahrung denken. Seien Sie nicht zu überrascht, wenn Ihr Stress plötzlich verschwindet, wenn Sie meine Anweisungen ausgeführt haben.
Sie müssen sich einige Minuten lang wirklich konzentrieren können, da es wichtig ist, weiterhin über die Emotionen nachzudenken, die Sie ausgewählt haben, während Sie diesen Prozess durchlaufen und das Gefühl reduzieren.
Bevor Sie diese Technik ausführen, lesen Sie jeden Schritt durch, damit Sie wissen, was zu tun ist.
Konzentrieren Sie sich auf das, worüber Sie sich überfordert fühlen. Bewerten Sie nun die Belastung auf einer Skala von eins bis zehn, wobei eins die niedrigste und zehn die höchste ist.
Dies ist wichtig, da wir gleich sehen werden, wie weit Sie es reduziert haben.
Sie müssen weiterhin darüber nachdenken, was Sie in der folgenden Sequenz gestört hat.
Nehmen Sie zwei Finger von jeder Hand und tippen Sie ungefähr zehnmal direkt über eine Ihrer Augenbrauen.
Tippen Sie nun unter dasselbe Auge.
Tippen Sie anschließend unter Ihr Schlüsselbein. Denken Sie weiter darüber nach, was Sie gestört hat, und tippen Sie unter Ihre Achselhöhle.
Das mag zunächst seltsam erscheinen, aber es funktioniert und je mehr Sie es tun, desto mehr werden Sie sich an die Sequenz erinnern.
Denken Sie weiter über die stressige Erfahrung nach, während Sie auf Ihren Körper tippen.
Tippen Sie anschließend unter Ihr Schlüsselbein. Denken Sie weiter darüber nach, was Sie gestört hat, und tippen Sie unter Ihre Achselhöhle. Das mag zunächst seltsam erscheinen, aber es funktioniert und je mehr Sie es tun, desto mehr werden Sie sich an die Sequenz erinnern
Tippen Sie nun auf den Karate-Chop-Punkt an der Seite Ihrer Hand (es spielt keine Rolle, welche Hand Sie wählen).
Tippen Sie nun auf den Karate-Chop-Punkt an der Seite Ihrer Hand (es spielt keine Rolle, welche Hand Sie wählen). Legen Sie diese Hand vor sich und tippen Sie an der Stelle zwischen den Knöcheln Ihres Ringfingers und des kleinen Fingers auf die Rückseite
“Sorge” kommt von einem griechischen Wort, das “geteilter Geist” bedeutet. So fühlt sich Sorge an – ein Gedankenstrom, der Sie in verschiedene Richtungen zieht. Fühlen Sie sich besser, indem Sie sich um das kümmern, was unter Ihrer Kontrolle steht, und sich weniger Gedanken darüber machen, was nicht.
Legen Sie diese Hand vor sich und tippen Sie an der Stelle zwischen den Knöcheln Ihres Ringfingers und des kleinen Fingers auf die Rückseite.
Tippen Sie weiter auf diesen Punkt und denken Sie dabei über die stressige Situation nach.
Schließen Sie Ihre Augen und öffnen Sie sie. Schauen Sie nach rechts, zurück in die Mitte und dann nach links.
Drehen Sie Ihre Augen um 360 Grad im Uhrzeigersinn und dann um 360 Grad gegen den Uhrzeigersinn.
Denken Sie immer noch darüber nach, was für Sie stressig war, und tippen Sie auf Ihre Hand. Brummen Sie die ersten Zeilen von Happy Birthday laut aus.
Zählen Sie jetzt laut von eins bis fünf. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) Brummen Sie erneut die ersten Zeilen von Happy Birthday. Kehren Sie zum Start zurück.
Denken Sie immer noch darüber nach, was Sie überwältigt hat, und tippen Sie über die Augenbraue, unter das Auge, unter Ihr Schlüsselbein, unter Ihre Achselhöhle und auf den Karate-Schnittpunkt Ihrer Hand.
OK, lass uns anhalten und nachsehen – auf einer Skala von eins bis zehn, wie hoch ist das Gefühl jetzt?
If the feeling of overwhelm hasn’t completely gone yet, simply go back through the entire sequence again until it does.
It may take as many as two or even three times before you have completely eliminated the feeling, although most people report getting the feeling down to a manageable level on their first or second try.
You can repeat this process as often as you like.
Six steps to switch on motivation
Whatever you set your mind to do will be easier to achieve than ever before, because you have now put yourself in charge of your own motivation
Read through the exercise carefully before you do it for the first time…
1. Think about something you would love to be really motivated to do.
2. Now, remember a time when you felt really, really motivated in the past — when you took positive action and made a difference in your life.
Fully return to it now — see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel how good you felt. If you can’t remember a time such as this, what happens when you think about how much better your life would be if you were totally motivated to take action right now?
Imagine how great you would feel if you had all the confidence, power, tenacity and determination you could ever need.
3. As you keep going through this memory, make the colours brighter, the sounds richer and the feelings stronger. Tell yourself to ‘Go for it!’ in your most confident inner voice.
4th While you are experiencing these good feelings, squeeze the thumb and middle finger of your left hand together. From now on, each time you squeeze these fingers together, you will begin to relive these good feelings.
5. Repeat steps 1–4 several times, adding in new motivational experiences every time until just squeezing your thumb and middle finger together brings those good feelings back and has you raring to go.
6. Still holding your thumb and finger together, return to the situation about which you want to feel more motivated.
Imagine things going exactly the way you want them to. See what you’ll see, hear what you’ll hear and feel how good it feels to get into action and make things happen.
Just by completing this exercise, you have set in motion the awesome power of momentum in your life.
Whatever you set your mind to do will be easier to achieve than ever before, because you have now put yourself in charge of your own motivation.
In the same way that an anchor helps keep a boat steady in stormy seas, an emotional anchor helps you stay calm in your daily life
Drop your emotional anchor
In the same way that an anchor helps keep a boat steady in stormy seas, an emotional anchor helps you stay calm in your daily life.
But unlike the anchor of a boat, an emotional anchor actually gets stronger the more you use it. This exercise will help you to cultivate an inner calm.
Before you try this technique for yourself, read through each step so that you know exactly what to do.
1. Remember a time when you felt really, really calm, at peace and fully in control. Return to it now, seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, and feeling how good you felt. If you can’t remember a time, imagine how wonderful it would feel to be totally at peace — if you had all the ease, comfort and self-control you could ever need.
2. As you keep running through this experience in your mind, make the colours brighter and richer, the sounds crisper, and feelings stronger.
When you are feeling these good feelings, squeeze the thumb and middle finger of your right hand together. You are associating the pressure in this place with this particular emotion.
Run through this memory several times until you feel a lovely sense of inner peace and calm.
3. Now go through this relaxing memory at least five more times while continuing to squeeze your thumb and middle finger together to lock in these good feelings. You will know you have done it enough when all you need to do is squeeze your fingers together and you easily remember the feelings of calm and relaxation spreading through your body.
4th Next, think about a situation that in the past you would have found mildly stressful. This time, squeeze the thumb and middle finger of your right hand together. Feel that calm feeling spreading through your body and imagine taking it with you into that stressful situation. Imagine everything going perfectly, exactly the way that you want. See what you’ll see, hear what you’ll hear and feel how good it feels to be calmer and in control.
5. Now, still squeezing your thumb and finger together, remember that calm feeling of control and once again imagine being in that situation that once seemed stressful. This time, imagine a few challenges and notice yourself handling the challenges well. See what you’ll see, hear what you’ll hear and feel how good it feels to be so much calmer and in control of this situation.
6. Stop and think about that situation now. Notice the difference from only a few minutes ago. Do you feel less stressed and more in control? If not, just repeat the exercise until you do!
Each time you do this exercise, it will become easier and easier.
One finger, one thumb worry buster
When you’re comfortable with the anchor exercise, you can re-programme yourself to be more relaxed — to trigger your natural relaxation response at will and feel a greater sense of ease and wellbeing.
Remember, your nervous system cannot tell the difference between a real and vividly imagined experience. So, each time you imagined a stressful situation, you experienced that stress almost as much as if it were happening now.
By imagining those situations but this time responding with calm instead of stress, you are re-programming yourself to feel calmer and more able to handle those situations.
Before you do this technique, read through each step.
- Write down the five most significant stresses in your life. Now, we are going to systematically lower the stress level of each one. This will cut stress levels in your unconscious.
- Choose one of the five situations. Using the calm anchor you created in the previous exercise, think about this situation you normally find stressful and squeeze the thumb and middle finger of your right hand together.Feel that calm feeling spreading through your body and imagine taking it with you into that stressful situation. Imagine everything going well. See what you’ll see, hear what you’ll hear and how good it feels.
- Now, still squeezing your thumb and finger together, again imagine being in that stressful situation. This time, imagine a few challenges and notice yourself handling all the challenges perfectly thanks to now feeling calm. See what you’ll see, hear what you’ll hear and feel how good it feels to be so much calmer and in control.
- Stop and think about that situation now. Notice the difference from only a few minutes ago. Do you feel less stressed? If not, just repeat until you do.
- Repeat this process with each one of the five situations until you feel much more relaxed and in control.
The more you do this exercise the easier it will get.
What does being content look like?
What does happy look like to you? For me, if I were to imagine myself at my happiest, I would be in a beautiful park. My wife would be there, our dog running happily just ahead of us and we would be on our way to meet good friends.
The sun would be shining, and I’d feel its warmth on my skin. The glorious smell of freshly cut grass would tickle my nose. I would feel fit and well in my body; nothing aching, my mind would be free from troubles.
For you, happy might look rather different to this. But pinning down what makes you happy, and imagining yourself in that blissful state — seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling all that’s around you — is a really helpful exercise.
That’s because it brings to mind your true values: those things in life that matter the most to you.
My values are good health, loving and feeling loved by my wife; they are being in nature and the company of friends; they are family and my beloved pet dog.
As long as I have them in my life, able to spend time nurturing those elements of it, then I am living my values and, fundamentally, I am happy.
There are moments, of course, when I feel down or something bad happens that makes me feel sad.
Life can’t be one long utopian dream. But taking a little time each day in order to think about what you value most is a brilliant habit to get into.
And that’s because being happy is much more habit over circumstance than you might actually think.
Happy people aren’t that way through some stroke of luck. They chose, albeit sometimes subconsciously, to be happy — it is something they practise, that they work at, which is why they’ve become so good at it.
Too many of us confuse happiness with pleasure. Trust me, the two are not the same.
Pleasure is a bar of fine chocolate or a glass of good champagne.
Happiness is the backdrop against which you experience life — it’s when you’re living in conjunction with your values.
Adopting the happiness habit
So, how might you adopt the happiness habit? Especially when the pandemic seems to stand in the way of so many of the values we, as individuals, cherish.
A few weeks into the first lockdown I went through a patch when I felt really sad and out of sorts.
I would often wake feeling glum, sorry that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends or my lovely mum; I’d long for life to return to its old ways.
Those feelings of loss and unhappiness would then carry through the rest of the day.
But just as happiness is a habit, so too is its opposite. I had to adjust my thinking then, as we all need to try to do again now, as we work to look after our mental wellbeing throughout this third lockdown.
On my list are the little things that I cherish: my first cup of tea in the morning and how making it reminds me how lucky I am to have fresh water available whenever I need it
And so, I went back to basics — to an old, but trusted, technique that I have used on myself, on various celebrity clients and a great many members of the public over the years.
My wife and I began starting each day making a list of the things we felt grateful for. Many months on, and we’re still doing that.
This morning, I’ve written that I feel grateful for the love of my wife and my own continuing good health; that I have a lovely dog to take on long walks and a beautiful home to come back to.
Also on my list are the little things that I cherish: my first cup of tea in the morning and how making it reminds me how lucky I am to have fresh water available whenever I need it.
The fact that, even though I can’t see my mum in person, I’m able to talk to her every day on the phone.
My wife and I are really enjoying watching a box set at the moment, so the anticipation of sitting down together to watch that when we settle down for the evening went on the list, too.
It is incredible how doing something so simple but positive helps adjust your mindset before the day has had a chance to even get started.
At points in the day when I feel out of sorts I can always take a look at my list.
I remind myself of my values, scan the list for proof that I’m still able to live by them one way or another, and I feel better.
Try making your own gratitude list each morning and see if it helps you, too.
Make happiness a habit.
Seven ways to make yourself feel happy
Sadness is a natural part of being human. If it’s a response to an upsetting life event then the emotion tends to ease with time.
However, if you are generally feeling low, happiness is something over which you can have more control.
Here are some simple but surprisingly effective exercises that will help.
Sadness is a natural part of being human. If it’s a response to an upsetting life event then the emotion tends to ease with time. However, if you are generally feeling low, happiness is something over which you can have more control. (File image)
1. Time to look up
Changing your line of sight — getting into the habit of looking forwards and upwards instead focusing only on what is immediately in front of you — will make you much happier.
People who feel low tend to look downwards and they don’t see much further than a few yards in front of them.
It makes them feel like they are being hemmed in, and is strongly associated with feeling bad.
People who look up often, stretch their gaze all the way to the sky or the horizon and that automatically suggests space and the freedom of lots of possibilities.
Scientists have found that there is a hard-wired connection between our eye movements and our patterns of thought and feelings.
You can see a change in brain activity when people look upwards that is associated with the visual cortex and tends to cause the brain to generate more alpha waves which develop feelings of peace, comfort and well-being.
2. Step into a new life
Think of someone you know or admire who is very happy.
Vividly imagine them standing in front of you. Notice what they are wearing, how they are standing, where they are looking and what they are doing.
Think of someone you know or admire who is very happy