Day 1: Flipping the Calmness Switch
Day one of thirty days to better mental health
Posted Jan 02, 2015
This is Day 1 of your 30 days to better mental health. Each day I want to propose one simple idea and one simple strategy in support of that idea.
There is no single way to begin improving your mental health. You might try any one of a multitude of approaches and any one of countless strategies. But I think that the following approach is a good starting point because it does a beautiful job of supporting all of your other efforts at improving your mental health.
That approach is to “flip the calmness switch” and decide to become a calmer person. You create a mental picture of that switch, you say to yourself something along the lines of “I genuinely want to feel calmer,” and you mentally picture flipping that switch in the direction of calmness.
Our anxiety, our agitation, our racing brain prevent us from living the life we would like to live. We can’t visit our favorite faraway places if we are afraid to fly. We can’t live our dream of performing if we are too anxious to perform. We can’t make our best decisions if our brain is racing and our nerves are jangling. Achieving more calmness will help you achieve all your other mental health goals.
I am not presuming that you can change your anxious nature or eliminate distress and agitation arising from past traumas by engaging in a single mental exercise. But if you do want to change your anxious nature and reduce that agitation you will have to pick a starting point and this is a wonderful one.
Flip the calmness switch today. Say to yourself, “It is odd but I think I get this idea, that I can become genuinely calmer just by deciding to become calmer.” When something happens to raise your anxiety level today, whether it’s a problem at work, something you encounter in the news, some family matter, or one of your chronic pestering thoughts, take a deep breath and say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped the calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
This is a way to manifest your love for yourself and to more powerfully stand behind your own life purpose choices. When we allow ourselves to be pulled around by the nose by our own frayed nerves, boiling blood, and racing brain, we aren’t able to be the person we intend to be. More calmness is a bedrock value that promotes all the other values we want to uphold.
+ When that hunger builds up in you to eat anything and everything and throw your diet out the window, say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped the calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
+ When that particular thing that your mate does that always drives you crazy is about to drive you crazy for the millionth time and provoke a fight that you know will lead nowhere, say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped the calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
+ When the novel you’re writing stalls because you don’t know what happens next, instead of badmouthing yourself or abandoning the project say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped the calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
+ When that craving builds up in you to start drinking, do all the things you know to do as part of your recovery program and also say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped the calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
+ When you feel that terrible heaviness and emptiness because life has suddenly lost all meaning, when you know that the deep sadness that dogs your heels is about to descend on you, rather than rushing off manically to do something, anything, to forestall that feeling or rather than taking to your bed and pulling the covers up over your head, say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped the calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
In each case there is more to do than just be calm. Calmness alone will not keep you from overeating, help you improve your relationship with your mate, allow you to finish your novel, or ward off a drinking binge or existential sadness. But it is a truly valuable first step and may even make all the difference as to whether or not you succeed in your efforts.
Your day 1 goal: more calmness
The key principle: calmness is a mental health benefit in its own right and supports your other mental health goals
The key strategy: flipping the calmness switch
Alternate strategies: you can increase the calmness in your life in many ways. Thinking thoughts that calm you rather than agitate you is beneficial. Removing stressors from your life will help. A useful relaxation technique or breathing technique will also help. If you say to yourself, “Calmness is important to me and I’d like to focus on calmness,” you’ll feel motivated to find a technique or strategy that works for you.
You may want to keep track of your efforts each day. If you do, start a computer file or a journal for this 30-day period and record your progress each day. Try “flipping the calmness switch” today, see what happens, and have a conversation with yourself about the results. No need to write too much or work too hard at this—my goal is to keep each day’s task simple! Just give this a try today. “Flip the calmness switch” and see what happens.
This series of pieces supports the free Future of Mental Health virtual conference I’m hosting from February 23 – 27, 2015. Please get your free ticket to the conference now by visiting https://www.entheos.com/The-Future-of-Mental-Health/Eric-Maisel. And plan to attend!
Dr. Eric Maisel is the author of 40+ books including Life Purpose Boot Camp, Rethinking Depression, and Coaching the Artist Within. In 2015 he will be launching a Future of Mental Health initiative. You can learn more about Dr. Maisel’s books, services, trainings and workshops at http://ericmaisel.com. Contact Dr. Maisel at email@example.com. And don’t forget to attend the free Future of Mental Health virtual conference in February: https://www.entheos.com/The-Future-of-Mental-Health/Eric-Maisel