I'm a little uneasy admitting this, but here goes: I'm not your go-with-the-flow type. In fact despite my decades- long yoga practice and daily meditation, I’ve got a major case of the nerves. Everything from being stuck in traffic to tackling a new recipe can unhinge me. Are there ways to chill out? Although nail biters like me can’t expect to be cured forever, there are proven techniques that can bring temporary calm. Check these out:
LEAVE THE DRAMA TO MERYL STREEP: In other words, try not to catastrophize. Instead of saying things like “This is too much. I can’t deal with it,” try telling yourself “It’s no big deal. I can get through it.”
KEEP YOUR NERVES TO YOURSELF: Standard wisdom has been to talk about our fears, but sometimes it’s better to take time to figure things out for ourselves and strategize. Even talking it over with our best friends can backfire since they may tend to sympathize with our anxieties and inadvertently fuel our fear.
USE YOUR IMAGINATION: Visualizing ways to bring calm can really help. I try to imagine putting my problem in a box, closing it up and then giving it wings so it can fly away into the clouds – getting smaller and smaller until it disappears. You can come up with your own imagery.
THINK ABOUT WHAT “SHE” WOULD DO: Do you know someone whom you would describe as unflappable? Try to think of what this person would do in your situation.
OPT TO BE DISTRACTED: Instead of obsessing, find something fun, engaging, and constructive to do. Take a break and watch a funny movie or read a blog that always make you laugh. When you lighten up, it's a lot easier to keep your cool.
TAKE IN SOME WISE WORDS: Certain quotes can center me almost immediately such as “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” (Robert Frost) or “If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (Lewis Carroll.) But if these don’t resonate within you, find quotes or affirmations that do and repeat them to yourself for a quick, calm fix.
Robin Westen is ThirdAge's medical reporter. Check for her updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."