Let's set the scene...
Your heart is pounding and you have a headache. You're emotional and people are noticing. You're overwhelmed and are having trouble focusing. You're trying to pretend everything is normal and deliver on your responsibilities but it's difficult.
Can you feel it?
Here’s my "go to" when I’m experiencing significant stress:
Wherever you are, name your feeling. It might sound like this: "I'm sitting at my desk and I'm feeling ________. These feelings are big and I’m paralyzed by them." Say this like you would read a weather report; boring stuff. It doesn't have to be said out loud, saying it in your mind works great too.
Now, imagine you are zooming out*.
As you begin to zoom, first see your building from the outside, then the block, then the city, county and state. Keep zooming out to see your state as a part of your country, then continent and finally, the whole world.
Two things happen when you zoom out.
First, you feel less lonely - in all of those billions of people, you can’t possibly be the only one experiencing _______ right now.
Second, it offers perspective. Viewing your position in the world from a distance, you begin to feel connected to something larger than your current circumstances. You can see the snow, oceans and deserts in coexistence. You can put your feelings into context as you recognize your place on this Earth, the luxury of your creature comforts and the richness of the blessings in your life.
Take a deep breath. Feel the sharp edges of your discomfort start to soften as you become a witness to your situation from a great distance away.
It’s like hitting a reset button on your stress.
Take Action: Next time you are having a moment when you feel like you are so deep you can't come up for air - envision something pulling you up and out, to a place far enough away that you can’t help but realize your place in the world.
The benefit? You invite calm into your day.
When you can detach yourself from your emotional state, without judgement of what you're going through, there’s a much needed escape and you can return with a fresh perspective. It's like a mini-vacation for your spirit.
This week, feel: Witness.
* The zoom technique is a variation on one I first read in The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane, Page 49.