It can be done anywhere – you could be out in public, waiting in a queue at the post office, or sitting in a traffic jam.
All you have to do is develop a regular practice of checking in with your body. Just send your awareness within, scan around your body, and PAY ATTENTION to how you’re feeling.
Reduce anger and anxiety
Don’t leave it too late
I don’t mean you should do this when you’re already at the height of any feelings of anger or anxiety – because the likelihood is that by this point it’s already too late to bring those feelings down to manageable levels.
What I mean is – check in with yourself on a regular basis throughout the day, before it gets to the point when you’re feeling angry or anxious.
When should you check in?
Here are some useful times to remember to check in with your body:
- When you’re eating
- When you look in the mirror
- During sex
- While you’re at work
- When somebody asks you to do something for them
- When you wake up in the morning, and when you go to bed at night.
How is your body responding to the situation? Does it feel comfortable and easy, or is there any tightness or tension anywhere? How is your breathing? Is it short, shallow and irregular, or deep and rhythmic?
Just good friends
Treat your body like you would a good friend. Do you only speak to your friends when they’re screaming at you for attention? Hopefully not. You’d probably call them or meet up regularly, to find out how they are and what’s going on for them.
So how about doing that with yourself? Because, after all, your body is (or should be) your very best friend. It’s your trusty vehicle that transports you around this world.
Treat your body like it’s the most precious thing in the world. Pay loving attention to it whenever you get a spare moment. And by that, I don’t mean you have to have expensive pamper days in hotels or go for a weekly massage (although that kind of thing would be awesome).
Notice the warning signs
I mean, simply get to know its signals that it needs a bit of help. If you were driving around in a beautiful Ferrari and a warning light popped up on the dashboard telling you that it needed more petrol, what would you do?
If you fill it up with petrol straight away, then everything’s going to be fine. But if you ignore it until it ran out, then you’re going to have an emergency situation on your hands.
Once you start to pay more attention to your own personal vehicle, you’ll get to know its signals really well. It’s like you’ll start to learn the language of your body, so you can understand and translate what it needs.
Start to get to know those little signs that tell you it may need some extra attention or nurturing.
It might be something as subtle as a tiredness or twitching around the eyes, or the beginning of a headache, indicating that you need to get away from the screen and rest for a while.
It might be a general fatigue that can be resolved by topping up your hydration levels, or getting outside for a walk.
The solutions are often little things that seem so simple that it’s hard to believe they’d be any help. But they all help to bring down those overwhelm levels that lead to anger or anxiety.
Then hopefully you’ll be able to give yourself what you need before you get to emergency stress point and you’re unable to do anything about it.
Start right now
You could start right now: ask yourself what’s going on for your body right now.
Are your shoulders hunched?
Is your neck a little stiff?
Why not stand up and have a little stretch to give your body a break. Look out of the window for a while and rest your eyes from the screen.
Or how about trying it out the next time somebody asks you for something? Notice how your body is responding – does everything feel ok or is there a little discomfort anywhere?
When yes should be no
Often we say yes to requests without thinking, then later we regret promising something we weren’t really able to give. Over time this can lead to a build up of stress, anxiety, frustration or anger, as somewhere deep inside we feel we’re being taken advantage of – even though we agreed to it.
Get into the habit of responding to your body’s needs, and over time you will reap the rewards of a calmer, more relaxed state of mind.
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Lisa Murphy is a counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Glasgow who specialises in anxiety, anger management, and weight loss.