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The Eye of the Hurricane (or How’s Your Mental Health Portfolio?

I was thinking of a movie I saw years ago where the lead characters were in the eye of a tornado or something like that and there was suddenly calm within the centre of a destructive funnel of air, water, earth and more. Recently I’ve spoken to or worked with a lot of people who feel they are being battered by a storm on all fronts – the breakdown of institutions that have been trusted ‘forever’, the material loss of funds or jobs, and the uncertainty of a seemingly unending down cycle all contribute to the feeling that this storm will never end. While individual’s financial portfolios have taken a hit, there is an even greater concern over the mental, physical and emotional reserves may also be in jeopardy.

As you know, this newsletter does not give predictions of the future, nor do I know how and when this situation will change for the better, I do like this metaphor (because the mind loves stories and connections) to start supporting the mind through this time of tempest.

The Long-Term Costs of Storm Swept Stress

Soldiers, air crash survivors or people who have experienced disaster caused by human error or nature, often suffer from stress, or PSTD – post-traumatic stress disorder. The toll this takes on both mind and body is documented. With the current situation, a much more insidious PTSD is taking form. Understand that stress is a necessary part of life – it can motivate, inspire and encourage us to greater heights. At the same time, continued and unresolved stress has serious implications on both body and mind.

Physically stress can affect our immune functioning, it can increase blood pressure and place strain on the heart. It can affect our ability to sleep, which has serious domino effects in other areas of physical workings. This not only affects the individual who is experiencing the continued stress but this takes a toll on family and friends who have to deal with a body that is less operational. It affects companies through medical expenses, absenteeism, and present-but-sick employees, not working at peak.

More subtle and dangerous is the mental/emotional levy. Stress actually dumbs people down. When the mind feels as though it has no control over outcomes (imagine, “it’s not my job, I’m just following management orders”) or feel in constant fear for our position, even when our performance is at or above par, it goes into survival mode. This means that focus contracts to deal with the battle at hand, keeping us ‘in the box’, rather than looking up and out to see other possibilities or options that may actually exist. Our concentration on the negative and sole awareness of possible worst-case scenarios actually causes a ‘negative hallucination’ of other opportunities (a very deep state of hypnosis where we can’t see something that is right in front of us).

While I’ll give some simple tips on helping you and yours expand your scope, I mention this to highlight the impact this has on adults, children, groups and businesses. The ‘work harder’ approach only works to a certain level. Then blinkered-viewpoints, decision, idea and work paralysis, and disengagement sets in. Our ability to rebound from setbacks is based on the idea that there is an eventual end. Maintaining stress over the long-run is a fools game.

What’s (or Who’s) Worth Grabbing Onto?

I’ve often thought about the situation of having to ‘grab and go’ in case of an emergency. Over time this list has changed, and while I have collected some lovely artwork, furniture and knick-knacks that make my house a home, I realise that I wouldn’t really need any of it. Some would be costly or annoying to replace, but not impossible. The only exception to this is if I thought of any of the people in my life being there – I’d certainly grab them!

Unfortunately when we get in that cycle of survival in turbulence over thriving in peace, the mind narrows and becomes somewhat myopic – in a protective effort to keep us safe. However, sometimes our idea of ‘safe’ gets somewhat skewed.  We think if we can keep our jobs, work longer and only smoke, drink etc. to keep us pumped enough to go back to work, then we’ll be fine. Fortunately, I have a number of clients who have widened their view with some simple phrases like, “no matter how much money I make now, my family will be worse off if I’m dead” – and so they change their perception and priorities to take into account some of the broader and deeper meanings or sources of inspiration in life. Interestingly, studies have shown that those brave enough to include community/family, hobbies and health into the bottom line, their performance within a work environment actually is enhanced.

I was at the launch of a friend’s website (www.thisisprettysmart.com – I love the name and service) and she mentioned that as her business was growing she had tapped into a sort of ‘ 1960’s commune’ with people who were ‘popping out of the woodwork’ to give help, exchange ideas, direct, inspire… and she naturally reciprocated in turn. Looking at those involved, all of their businesses are expanding in a time of contraction. While the epic of the ‘Lone Wolf’ going it on its own may be an archetype some strive for, the results of study paints a different picture. Those in or who build ‘communities’ or tap into the resources of others (and offer theirs as well), tend to exhibit more resilience in crisis. Something to think about.

Preparing for the Other Side

While we can travel for some distance within the eye of the storm, during which it may dissipate or disappear, there is the chance that we’ll have to go through another storm (or two) in our journey to the other side.

While I may have suggested some ideas before, I thought I’d mention a few ways to fortify you against storms, or boost your mental, emotional and physical health portfolio. Follow these and I’d love to hear how your investment has borne dividends in ways you may not even be aware of.

Deep Breath – It seems old-fashioned and too simple, but a deep breath is the opposite of the breath we take when we are stressed, under pressure or scared. A few deep breaths a day will help you regain composure and feel more in control. It might be worthwhile to see how you hold your body – if a chair or a telephone is raising a shoulder or hunching a back, the mind can get the idea that the body is stressed – and will actually add to the ‘stressed’ position of the body (they work together for ‘good’ or ‘bad’).

Step Back – stress narrows the focus on the mind, so taking a step back, whether physically, or taking a position ‘as if’ you were someone not so attached to the situation, can make a big difference in the way you perceive things. Like holding a piece of paper too close to the nose, it can be blurry and illegible. When we pull back from it, things come into better focus and we can truly see what’s in front of us much more clearly.

Look at ALL Priorities – it’s important for the mind to keep things in perspective. While you might be concerned about the cut in bonus, your six-year-old may just want to spend a bit of time in the park rather than go do an expensive amusement centre. Do the ‘what would you grab’ test with the various things in your life and you might see things a bit differently.

Slow down – “But this is a time to work harder, faster, stronger to keep my job!” My mother used to talk about me running around like a chicken with my head cut off – a mindless whirring that comes from panic and confusion – not a centred or in control way to deal with the gales of life. Focusing on the important tasks and letting other ‘busy’ things slide helps us to achieve what we need and want much better. Take a deep breath, look at your priorities, then proceed (see how it all works together?)

Positive option thought – yes, there will be a worst-case scenario. There will also be a best-case scenario. Often times, in our effort to be prepared for the worst, we exclude or belittle the possible positive outcomes. Imaging for a moment, things working out as you want and need – take a few moments with it and the feeling that goes along with it. How would you act, how would you approach others, what would your wording be – maybe there are clues to options to act and feel based on that experience.

Feel… – even if it’s ‘bad’. They are temporary and will pass. When we worry about feelings, then they tend to linger. Just like waves in a storm, there are highs and lows, and they will wash over if we allow them to be. We can collect important information from them if we choose, or we can just see them as things that ‘happen’ and will end. You’ve already been through ups and downs in your life and have survived. You’re sure to do it again.

Get support – the idea of single hero against nature is a wonderful image, but not one that necessarily works in today’s world. You needn’t be alone. Look to the people who love or support you and you’ll find that you don’t have to have all the answers, and that you may gain from being open to the give and take of a community. There are also professionals who are there to support mind and/or body – look to them for help when you need it. Your better mental, physical and emotional health makes everything in life seem much easier. I have a number of services or providers that I can recommend if you need other support – just let us know and we’ll see if we can direct you in the way that gives you the best return on your resource investment.

 

Storm-Buster Suggestions and Portfolio Pumping Programs:

Enlightenment Qi Gong – learn in three mornings, have for a lifetime! Enlightenment Qi Gong is a moving meditation that supports mind, body and emotions. A 15-minute series of simple movements helps to align you, bringing you greater calm and more energy. SPECIAL! Two for the Price of One, this month only – bring a friend and you can both learn for $350. Just bring yourself and you’ll only pay $250 ($100 discount). March 9, 11 and 13 (Mon, Wed and Fri) 10am to 1pm. Contact us at courses@greymatternetwork.com to register.

Train for a New or Supplementary Career in Bali! Our Professional Hypnotherapist Certification Program is on the beautiful island of Bali from 22 March to 1 April (you’ve got the weekend off to explore or grab a tan). There are a couple of lucky seats left. Contact us at professional@greymatternetwork.com or go to http://www.greymatternetwork.com/exec/sam/view/id=1732/lang=en/node=1736/ for more information and to register.

…but I can’t get to Bali, yet still want to enhance my skills and knowledge for the future. Our Part-Time Hypnotherapy Certification Program is being held in Singapore over the four weekends in June (plus a foundations evening before). We’ve got a super-great early bird special on until March 6th, so if you’re considering adding a powerful tool to your toolbox now’s the time to act. Find out more at http://www.greymatternetwork.com/exec/sam/view/id=1715/lang=en/node=1720/ or contact us at professional@greymatternetwork.com

We’ll have a host of other courses in April and beyond. Want something in particular – let me know by dropping me a line at jennifer@greymatternetwork.com

Have a wonderful March.

Jennifer

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