HJ: By simply making little shifts in how you approach your life, you can see big results in how much confidence, peace and creativity you experience in your everyday life. This is a great article with many unconventional and thoughtful ways to begin living a richer, more fulfilling life.
Four Steps to a Calmer, Confident, Creative, Capable You
Relax, mobilize, and act effectively
By Bill Knaus, Ed.D. | Psychology Today
You’d like to make better use of your talents and your time, but you procrastinate instead. So, what’s going on? Do you doubt yourself? Are you dodging discomfort? Do you fritter your time dreaming rather than doing? If you are in any of these traps, that’s no way to live your life.
What can you do? Here are three action steps that you can take:
1. Build confidence by doing what you put off.
2. Develop tolerance by showing yourself you can learn more by doing than by stewing.
3. Take a chance by following through on what you dream of doing.
I’ll show you an easy way to take these three action steps. First, you’ll use nature scenes to calm your mind and buffer yourself against anxiety and stress. Then you’ll see how to optimize your performances with a four-step ready, relax, set, go method.
Serene Scenes for a Serene Mind
As a visual people, we feel drawn to serene nature scenes. These scenes arouse a primal sense of security and opportunity. Think of a sea scene with waves splashing over a rocky shore. Compared to an asphalt parking lot, how does the sea scene feel?Serene scenes can speed recovery from stress. When serene, you are open to your experiences. You are not fighting against yourself and so you can get more done. What goes into these scenes? Over forty years of research show that serene nature scenes include the following:
Open spaces may be more important than places. A winding brook has complexity that can stir curiosity. Even a small urban park can feel serene. However, nature scenes can lose their appeal when marred by debris. Structures, such as a chain-link fence, can blemish a scene.
Here are some serene scene options:
Viewing a nature scene can feel serene. Maybe your serene scene is looking across a lake to green hills.
Imagining a scene can feel serene. Close your eyes. Imagine puffy clouds floating in a blue sky. You see an open beach and blue-green sea. You see lush green islands before the horizon. How do you feel?
Observing a photo of a scenic area can feel serene. Find serene scene photos. Shoot your own photos. Use the Internet to find tranquil scenes.
Choose what works best for you.
Experiment with Serenity
Building a calm body and clear mind takes time. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.
When you daily observe serene and calming scenes, you are less likely to feel rattled by stress. Your creative juices may flow freely. You may feel more willing and able to combat needless anxieties and fears.
Try this serenity experiment to relax and buffer yourself against anxiety and stress. For the next six weeks, set aside two times each day to view your chosen nature scene(s). View it for five minutes in the early morning and five minutes in the late afternoon. If you get distracted, return to the scene when you are aware that you are drifting.
This is a non-demand experiment. Perfection is not required. If you feel serene, you feel serene. If not, so-be-it. If you benefit from this experiment, continue doing it.
Should you add nature sounds to your serenity program? Nature sounds may calm you more than relaxing music. If you choose a scene with sounds, use nature sounds that fit the scene. Here are two examples: (1) the sight and sound of brook water careening over rocks, (2) the sight of an open field and sound of chirping birds. (The Internet is a resource for free nature scenes and sounds.)
If after a few weeks you find that serene scenes don’t work for you, try a different way to put yourself into a calm state. For example,
1. Meditation and deep breathing exercises are evidence-based ways to relax.
2. Spend a half-hour a day on a hammock in a pleasing garden setting.
3. Walk along a pristine river path for five minutes each day.
4. Use a special place where you feel serene. (I have a room of angles that feels serene.)
Calmness is good in itself. Nevertheless, you live in a world of activities. You’ll have less stress and anxiety when you calmly approach what you need or want to do, and then do it.
Rally and Follow Through
When you feel distracted by anxiety and stress, you are more likely to procrastinate. With a calm mind and body, you are likely to make better decisions and operate effectively. Here’s a four-step ready, relax, set, go method that you can use to calm yourself, stop procrastinating, overcome your anxieties and fears, and live your dreams. Ready. Set meaningful, measurable, and reasonable goals. This is one of the most reliable ways to make progress. Working five-minutes on a task is more reasonable than “getting everything done.” If you are afraid of speaking up in public, asking a single question in a group setting is a reasonable goal.
Relax. Put yourself in a serene state of mind. You can’t feel stressed and calm at the same time. To create a calm feeling, use a favorite landscape photo. Visualize a calming scene. Meditate. When you feel calm, move on.
Set. Prepare for an optimal performance. In a relaxed state of mind, think of what you want to accomplish. Then, think these three phrases to yourself: “I am feeling energized.” “I am ready to act.” “I will start now.”
Go. Launch goal-directed actions. Take the first step. Once you do this, you may find it easier to take the second
Practice this four-step process, get meaningful things done, and leave emotionally draining emotions in your rear view mirror. See if the steps lead to openness to experience and creative accomplishments.
For using scenes for serenity to ease your anxieties and procrastinate less, click on The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety (Second Edition). As a bonus, you’ll find 35 tips from top anxiety experts.