During times of intense stress and conflict, it can be challenging to retain your emotional equilibrium. When going through a divorce, for example, tensions from that process can spill over into relationships with other family members, coworkers, and friends. Diana Mercer and Katie Jane Wennechuk, authors of Making Divorce Work, have years of experience as mediators. They have devised eight “Peace Practices” to help you think more clearly and handle yourself with poise during times of sadness and anger. Here are four that you can try right now:
This activity is not meditation—it doesn’t matter what you think about while you’re doing it. The goal is to reduce stress and leave you feeling calm, assertive, and nourished. You can do this exercise anytime you’re stressed out, but fifteen minutes every morning and evening is ideal. Simply sit somewhere quiet and comfortable (and make sure you’re not chilly!), close your eyes, and breathe continuously through your nose, inhaling from your belly, until your timer goes off.
Anchoring works by creating a mental association with a happy moment that helps you control your emotions. The great news is, you can create an anchor deliberately. First, think of how you want to feel in a particular situation (for instance, you might want to feel confident at a job interview). Then, remember a time when you felt that emotion. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and when you feel relaxed, use your memory of that time to feel the emotion as vividly as you can. When the emotion feels as intense as possible, create an anchor or physical association for it (for instance, make a fist, touch your nose, etc.), and hold the pose until the emotion fades. Then open your eyes and test if the anchor works by making the chosen gesture and seeing if it ignites the desired emotion. You can do this with multiple memories that invoke the same emotion to make the anchor even stronger.
Challenging a Thought
When you’re going through a difficult time, you’re going to have a lot of bad days, days when you’re overly negative or self-critical. Learn to challenge and avoid these kinds of negative thoughts:
- Steer clear of thoughts that cast things as black-or-white. There are always gray areas to every situation.
- Don’t exaggerate. When you only think of worse-case scenarios, you impede your ability to think creatively and explore other options.
- Don’t ignore positive moments. Things like friends taking you out to dinner might feel small, but actually they are to be celebrated.
Dismissing a Thought
Besides challenging negative thinking, you can actually weed those thoughts out completely. Imagine the thought written on a whiteboard; now take a mental eraser and obliterate it. You can even do this physically by writing it on a piece of paper and tearing it up. Similarly, imagine you have a remote control for the channels in your mind. If you don’t like what’s playing in your head, change the channel!
~ Post by Jeanette Shaw–a former TarcherPerigee editor now living the glamorous freelance life, which means yoga pants every day. She can be found at jseditorial.com.
These tips were pulled from MAKING DIVORCE WORK by Diana Mercer and Katie Jane Wennechuk, available through these retailers :