The authors of some of the ultimate self-help books reveal what really works when you need to beat stress and find a moment of calm…
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Do… Visualise The End Result
Rhonda Byrne is author of the bestseller The Secret (Simon & Schuster) and made a film of the same name.
“You can easily understand that the more prepared you are before a test, exam or speech, the less fear you will have. When you prepare your mind for something you’re about to undertake by visualising the outcome, you will reduce the fear you feel.
You might also discover that when you begin to do the fearful thing, the fear disappears at once. I have often found this to be true in my life; the fear of doing something is much worse than the reality of doing it.”
Do… Notice Joy In The Everyday
Brené Brown is a research professor and the author of Daring Greatly (Penguin).
“Part of my research work includes interviewing people who’ve experienced profound losses or survived great traumas. I’ve learnt so much from them. In particular: that joy comes to us in ordinary, everyday moments.
We risk missing out on the joy when we’re too busy chasing the extraordinary. Don’t squander joy. We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. Letting ourselves be joyful can make us feel vulnerable, but every time we give into those moments, we build resilience.
When bad things happen – and they do – we’re stronger.”
Do… Make time for a holi-hour
Susan Jeffers wrote the classic self-help book Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway (Vermilion), which sold about 15 million copies worldwide. She died in 2012, but her message remains relevant today.
“To help myself relax, I’ve created the concept of the holi-hour, a shortened version of the holi-day. I allow myself at least one hour in each day to relax totally. It could mean reading magazines, walking on the beach, or visiting my favourite shopping centre.
This helps in keeping me refreshed and very often I get my best work ideas in this leisure time, when my mind isn’t so cluttered.
Many of us get anxious taking time to relax and enjoy ourselves, but it’s important to have a life that has balance.”
ALSO SEE: Take Time To Relax – Naturally
Do… Smile… Even if you must fake it
Susan Cain is a former lawyer who wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Penguin), which has been translated into over 30 languages.
“There are psychological tricks you can employ to feel calm during intimidating situations, such as speaking in public or chairing a meeting.
For example, pay attention to how your face and body arrange themselves when you’re feeling confident, and adopt those positions when time comes to fake it.
Studies also show that taking simple physical steps – like smiling – makes us feel stronger and happier, while frowning makes us feel worse.”
Do… Plan in some worry time
“For most of us, putting an activity in the diary tends to lock us into doing it. Equally, scheduling can be used to restrict time spent on an activity.
The singer Johnny Cash used to put ‘worry’ on his to-do list. Although scheduling time to worry sounds odd, it’s a proven strategy for reducing anxiety.
Instead of worrying continually, a person saves the worry until the appointed time and then worries until the time is up.”
Don’t… Hold it all in
John C Parkin, a hypnotherapist, wrote the ‘F**k It’ series of books.
“This exercise is the magic gateway back into a more spontaneous way of living.
Put on music with a good rhythm. Start shaking your body to the music. I shake my arms first, then I bounce on my heels, shaking all the way through my body. I shake my shoulders like mad, trying to get the tension out. Keep shaking for about eight minutes until there’s a gap in the music. STOP. Stand still. Notice what’s going on inside your body and head.
Can you put what you’re noticing into words? Start shaking again for one song and really go for it. Then stop. Relax as you stand still. Soften any tension: let go of your shoulders and jaw; soften the focus of your eyes.”
ALSO SEE: 7 Ways To Find The Funny And Be Happy
Don’t… Grow your worries
Professor Steve Peters is a psychiatrist who penned the bestseller The Chimp Paradox (Vermilion).
“Some people grow worries: if there is nothing to worry about, then they find something. It’s a learnt habit and tiring, not only for them, but also for those around them. But you can stop this behaviour by overwriting it with a mental programme that rationalises what is going on.
Remind yourself that most worries are trivial in the long run and take care of themselves. Learning to get perspective and laugh at yourself is the most powerful thing you can do. Worrying never does any good.”
Don’t… Believe in problems
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author admired by Oprah. He wrote The Power of Now (Hodder & Stoughton).
“Problems are mind made. Ultimately, it’s about realising that there are no problems, only situations – to be dealt with now, or left alone and accepted as part of the present moment until they change or can be dealt with.
Ask yourself what ‘problem’ you have now, not next year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now. You might be carrying in your mind the insane burden of 100 things you will or may have to do in the future, instead of focusing on the one thing you can do now. Make the decision to create no more problems or pain.”
By Clare Goldwin