5 Simple, Non-Traditional, Ways to Get it Together When it Seems Like Things are Falling Apart
+ Four Practices to Avoid
It doesn’t matter how often you meditate, how frequently you practice self-reflection, how many self-help resources you consume, how “together” you may have it in your personal life or career - you are allowed to freak the eff out from time-to-time.
These freak outs can come from a variety of places: chaos of the holidays, work, relationships, whatever. The general onset of a freak out is a disruption to our own plan that sets us into mental overload, regressive thinking, and general impatience. We tend to freak out when things don’t go “our way” (check out other tips for managing these situations here) or when there’s some sort of big-picture uncertainty in play. So, what are some steps we can take to bring ourselves back to center when we’re freaking the eff out? I’ve collected some of my favorite tips to help level-set our minds and nervous systems when we fall into freak out pattern (get ready, a lot of these tips are going to stretch you outside of your comfort zone or introduce you to techniques you might consider a little “out there.” Keep an open mind and remember: trying something that’s seems a little kookie at first is probably better than the crazy overload your system is going through in a freak out). Here they are:
Practice Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or “Tapping). I was first introduced to EFT through Nick Ortner’s book, The Tapping Solution. While this book is an interesting read that provides tons of education and backing on EFT, I don’t recommend trying to read and research if you’re in the midst of a freakout. Instead, take a look at these guided EFT meditations by renowned EFT teacher, Brad Yates. In the videos, Brad offers a “script” to guide you through the process. Simply repeat the words and follow along with tapping on each of the pressure points as seen in the video. I love these videos because they provide a tangible and easy-to-follow guide, but they also require you to redirect your attention. While you’ll still be focusing on whatever you’re freaking out about, the goal is to take your emotional overwhelm down several notches through the tapping process. While Brad Yates’ YouTube Channel has a tapping script for almost any specific situation or feeling, here are a few general topics that might help if you’re freaking out:
- Chill Out
- Getting Centered and Grounded
- Embracing the Mystery (Not Having the Answers)
- Feeling Defeated
Try this Kundalini Mantra for Guidance and Protection. If you’re not familiar with Kundalini yoga, you might want to take a moment to familiarize yourself with this meditative-style here.
Kundalini could easily be dubbed the "weird" type of yoga, but it’s actually an extremely effective and scientific meditative practice that focuses on aligning the energies in the Chakras. Many Kundalini exercises involve a breath pattern, a mudra (hand posture), or a spoken mantra.
My favorite Kundalini meditation for anytime you require re-centering or guidance is Aad Guray Nameh. Though you can chant or sing along to a mantra, I recommend listening to Jai Jagdeesh’s interpretation; you can listen online here. I listen to it anytime I need to ground myself and my thoughts. The mantra is intended to bring clarity when there is doubt and opens you up to a sense of guidance from the highest sense of self (more here). I find listening to this mantra in musical form to be more accessible than chanting it, but if you’d like to try, here is the mantra and interpretation:
Aad guray nameh, jugaad guray nameh
Sat guray nameh, siri guroo dayv-ay nameh
I bow to the primal wisdom.
I bow to the wisdom true through the ages.
I bow to the true wisdom. I bow to the great unseen wisdom.
Try these Affirmations. I’m a big affirmations and find that combining them with slow breathing exercises can be incredibly beneficial when your mind is on overload (you can learn about using affirmations for other areas of wellness here). I find it’s helpful to incorporate pertainent affirmations into a self-guided meditation, breathing in and out slowly through the nose, repeating the affirmation silently. Here are a few to focus your mind and help you return to center when you’re freaking out:
I choose to see peace instead of this. I know there is another way.
I trust that everything happening is for my highest good.
“Tap Out” your Cortices. Much like EFT, tapping out cortices involves a pattern to help reprogram your nervous system - though this can be helpful on a daily basis, tapping cortices can be particularly beneficial in the midst of an overload. The intention of this technique is to balance the brain and stimulate the body's self-healing potential. You can find a brief explanation of how this technique works as well as a tutorial here.
Try this Breathing Meditation. Another Kundalini meditation, this time working with breath focused on calming you down. While many focused breathing techniques can be helpful in slowing your mind during an overload (think any yogic breath like ujjayi), this Kundalini technique is specifically intended to calm your system. With this breathing pattern, you take in four sips of air through the nose, and then release the same four breaths back through your nose by pulsing your naval inwards. You can see a video tutorial here.
BONUS: Four Practices to Avoid When you’re Freaking the Eff Out.
When we’re in the midst of our own mental or personal chaos, it’s easy to miss the mark when choosing how to best process what is going on. Now that you have some options for positive coping mechanisms, let’s also look at some choices which can be less productive in stressful times.
Seeking instant gratification. Discomfort is, well, uncomfortable. Anytime we are uncomfortable - be it mentally or physically - it is our instinct to try to escape or remedy the situation rather than sitting with our discomfort. When we reach for instant gratification, often we make choices or say things that are difficult to undo and often add to the overall complication of the situation in the long run. Weather your need for instant gratification manifests as speaking or acting abruptly, I’ve found that a little patience and discomfort often lead to a situation working itself out whereas actions and words lead to greater problems in the long run
Searching for validation. Looking to others for validation and support is a common way we try to manage chaotic emotions, this is specifically tempting when we are unsure of the outcome or feel out of control of the outcome completely. In these times, we tend to reach for the advice and opinions of others - hoping to find mental peace from a friend's advice (or even an internet expert). More realistically, we end up receiving poorly thought out advice or stumbling upon worst-case-scenario examples, which only sends us into a further freak out spiral.
Holing up. Retreating into solitude is another way we might cope during a freak out. While we all need time for self-reflection, holing up in order to obsess about the topic you’re freaking out about can be counterproductive. If you’ve found your time alone is less self-reflection and more obsession, do yourself a favor and get out of the house for a walk or a workout, if nothing else. You don’t have to be social, but moving your body and getting out of your own “space” is a helpful step in clearing your head.
Numbing. Avoiding discomfort can take on many forms, many of which involve taking action to help us escape reality. Numbing can include partaking in alcohol or drugs, over-eating, social media scrolling, obsessive cleaning, or binge watching television. While it may help to distract you from the discomfort at hand temporarily, often numbing activities come back to bite us after the endorphins wear off: our hangovers set us at an all-time low, we feel lethargic from overeating or remorseful for spending so much time on a specific activity.
All-in-all, we are all bound to have a little freak out once in awhile. Ultimately, what matters most is how effective you become at getting yourself back on course once you realize you’re in freak out mode. While the five practices discussed in this blog are great starters, there are many safe, effective, and practical ways to help your nervous system process threats, uncertainty, discomfort, and even the resurgence of unprocessed feelings that often become the source of freak outs. The first steps to managing freak outs is to become an expert at noticing them at the onset and then finding the technique which is most helpful at re-centering you quickly.