Meditation and mindfulness are great when you have enough control over
your time to enjoy them. But what happens when a crisis requires immediate action?
Using scientific findings in the physiology of relaxation, Dr. Robert
Cooper has developed a six-step program that minimizes the negative effects of stress the
moment the body begins to feel stressed. He calls it the Instant Calming Sequence.
Step 1:: Practice uninterrupted breathing. When stress
strikes, immediately focus on your breath and continue breathing smoothly, deeply and
Step 2: Put on a positive face. Smile a grin that you
can feel in the corners of your eyes. "The conventional wisdom is that happiness
triggers smiling," Dr. Cooper explains. "But recent studies suggest that this
process is a two-way street. Smiling can contribute to feelings of happiness, and in a
stressful situation, it can help keep you calm." Try this simple test: Smile a broad
grin right now. Don't you feel better?
Step 3:: Balance your posture. People under stress
often look hunched-over, hence the oft-repeated phrase "They have the weight of the
world on their shoulders."
"Maintaining good posture works like smiling," Dr. Cooper says.
"Physical balance contributes to emotional balance." Keep your head up, chin in,
chest high, pelvis and hips level, back comfortably straight and abdomen free of tension.
Imagine a skyhook lifting your body from a point at the center of the top of your head.
Step 4: Bathe in a wave of relaxation. Consciously
sweep a wave of relaxation through your body. "Imagine you're standing under a
waterfall that washes away all your tension," Dr. Cooper says.
Step 5: Acknowledge reality. Face your causes of
stresses head-on. Don't try to deny it or wish that it hadn't happened. Think: "This
is real. I can handle it. I'm finding the best possible way to cope right now."
Step 6:: Reassert control. Instead of
fretting about how the stressor has robbed you of control, focus on what you can control
and take appropriate action. Also, think clear-headed, honest thoughts instead of
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