Stress and anxiety are a part of almost everyone’s life, especially entrepreneurs and those who operate in fast-moving industries or run high-pressure businesses. Some of us feed into this anxiety and stress, making the situation even worse, and preventing ourselves from recovering quickly. Also, when stress becomes chronic, it can lead to any one of a number of life-threatening diseases.
Things like time pressure and the demand for perfection are a couple of the most common stressors. But there’s a solution for anyone who has to deal with this issue: Having a mind-body intervention will create what experts call a relaxation response. When you learn to relax your body and quiet your mind, you can easily and quickly return to your centre, empowering yourself to act with clarity and intention.
What is your centre? It is the emotional state where you feel comfortable, relaxed and able to take on anything that comes your way.
Think of anxiety as a car.
This is my favourite analogy to explain the need to centre yourself. Envision your day as a car that rests on top of the highest hill in San Francisco. At the beginning of the day, if you find your centre, whether through meditation, yoga, a morning ritual, repeating a mantra or some other spiritual means, all it takes is one finger to hold that car at the top of the hill.
The minute the car, due to some stressor or anxiety, starts rolling down the hill, gaining momentum and “getting away from you,”. It takes more and more force to get it back to the top of the hill. Therefore, the easiest way to stay centred is to act immediately, right before your car starts to roll down the hill, using your preferred strategy to get back to centre, so that you can hold your car on the hill with just one finger.
Stress your health.
The myriad negative health aspects that come with stress and anxiety are well-known. But sometimes we fail to consider the long-term impact that a contentious mindset can have. In 2012, a study published in The Lancet found that excess work stress increases the risk of a heart attack by 23 per cent. Another study from researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia found that periods of intense anger and anxiety can increase the risk of a heart attack by nearly nine times.
If you learn a method to help you to get back to the centre, it’ll be a significant investment in yourself, your health and your future. Employees who are overly anxious are much more likely to miss work, which puts additional stress on themselves and those around them, creating a vicious cycle, that demands intervention.
Mind your mental health.
Just as important as the physical effects are the negative cognitive aspects of anxiety. Stress not only robs us of clarity, balance and focus, it also impairs our decision-making process. Without a clear mind, you are much less productive. When you are not at the centre, you react instead of acting with intention.
To demonstrate this difference, and the effects on productivity when it comes to acting and reacting, I like to give the example of a martial arts master who sits in the centre of a circle and faces off against 12 other opponents. As he defends himself, it may look like he’s reacting to each one. In actuality, he’s fending off an attacker, then immediately getting back to centre. He defeats another attacker, instantly gets back to centre again, continuing until there are no more challenges. This fantastic defence strategy against attacks is only possible because the martial artist has perfected a relaxation response.
Find your centre.
In other words, when you are attacked, whether it’s from your own attacking thoughts or an action toward you from another, it’s much more effective to take an action that helps you get back to centre before you respond, verbally and/or physically. In the case of the latter, sometimes just walking away with a smile on your face is the most formidable move.
However, in order to live your best life, you need to reduce your stress. To reduce your stress, you need to be able to quickly get back to centre. Whenever you feel yourself slipping into the anxiety zone, switch your focus to getting back to the centre. Anytime you feel your negative emotions rise, instead of lashing out, go inward and get back to centre.
Do yourself a big favour: Find and practice your preferred method to quickly return to the centre. Do so and you’ll always be of sound mind and body as you navigate each day of your life.