One of the favourite mugs in use in our household is the red one that reads “Keep Calm And Ask Dad.”
That’s because Dad is the “fixer”, the person who knows how to resolve tricky problems when the printer won’t print, or when the Internet is playing up and stays calm while everyone else around him is losing their cool.
In the same way, having a leader or manager at work that can manage their emotions effectively in the face of a significant problem, instills confidence that a way forward will be found and lowers tension and negative emotion levels in those around them.
Finding calm in our busy, jostling and complex world can be tricky. It’s easy to lose sight of what will help us the most to stay attentive, focused and integrative (working well with others).
What helps is to add a little extra thinking or headspace to calm our monkey mind. Because sometimes it can feel as if there is a whole troop of macaques in our head, chattering away noisily; disturbing our sleep, muddying our thoughts and causing us angst.
A calm mind keeps the brain feeling safe – providing unfettered access to the prefrontal cortex; our executive suite for planning, organizing and monitoring emotion, while quieting the limbic system, our fight flight or freeze response.
A calm mind is a quiet mind, highly tuned and aware. It leads to greater insight, creativity and compassion for others (as well as ourselves).
Cutting through the noise and distraction enables a calm mind to draw on previous experience to solve problems quickly and easily, broaden perspective and open us up to possibility thinking and opportunity.
Where does CALM begin?
Finding calm starts with the awareness that you can achieve it and scheduling in your first appointment. How long you make that appointment is up to you. Start with ten to fifteen minutes daily, as less may be ineffective.
Count Your Blessings.
Being grateful for what you have shifts your mindset to be growth oriented, one that cherishes opportunity, growth and personal expansion. An attitude of gratitude makes us feel more appreciative, generous and kind. It makes us more relaxed.
Expressing gratitude is about saying thank you to acknowledge another person’s act; deed or kind thought and connects us at a deeper level. Humans are hard wired to connect with others to build trust, warmth and respect when we feel safe.
Writing down what we are grateful for, in a special journal, or Post –it note elevates our mood. Reflecting on previous journal entries and notes is a great reminder to show just how much we have to be grateful for and helps to instill calm.
Activate All Your Senses.
Choose to flick the switch and come off autopilot. While we primarily use our visual cues to help us navigate our way through the world, our sense of hearing, taste, small and touch are immensely powerful tools that help us make better sense of our world.
Our strongest memories are often evoked through smell, taste and touch. Remembering helps us to draw on previous experience that can help us to resolve difficult problems and keep strong negative emotions in check.
A good belly laugh is a great way to reduce tension and elevate mood. Do what ever tickles your fancy (pardon the pun) to increase how much time you spend smiling, chuckling, humming a little happy tune, giggling or laughing.
When we feel happy, we enhance our level of contentment with our lot. We increase our resilience to pain (both physical and social) and enjoy a more optimistic outlook on life.
Whether you try laughter yoga, go to a comedy show, watch a funny sitcom or another funny cat video, laughter is a great way to enhance social connection, wellbeing and a sense of calm.
Mind Your Mind
Being more mindful whether through active mindfulness meditation or active breathing calms the mind through a combination of physiological and psychological mechanisms.
Reducing mindless behaviour keeps us in the present moment, enhances attention of what is happening right now and reduces limbic activation.
While you may be thinking, “that’s not for me” there are many who, contrary to their expectations have found that mindfulness or other forms of meditation not only changes the way they think, it changes their outlook and induces a greater sense of calm and contentment.
You can introduce more mindfulness into your life by choosing to walk in a mindful way, to eat in a mindful way and to interact with others in a mindful way.
Staying calm and retaining grace under pressure is a leadership skill that enhances social cohesion and connection. A little bit of calm goes a long way to boost clarity of thought and performance.