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Henry Woeltjen

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Improving Your Life: Step 1 - Relax!

For the next few weeks I will be posting some steps I think are necessary to improve your life. Take the journey with me and give me your feedback. Let's build a strategy we can all use to improve our life and the lives of everyone around us!

Step 1 - Relax!

All of us have stories to tell. Some are exciting and full of progress. However, some of us struggle to understand what's going wrong. These posts will be an attempt to facilitate a conversation about progress. We need to move forward. I believe we can help each other do just that.

Step one of this process will be one of the hardest. We all have stress, and sometimes our stress is overwhelming. We need to take a step back and relax! Before our journey begins we must have an open mind. Take a second, sit back, and relax. Feelings of anxiety and stress will only prevent you from moving towards your goals.

What are some things that help you relax? What are your coping mechanisms?

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  • Jun 16 2013: Henry, this is so great.

    What worked wonders for me was Mindfulness. I followed a course when I was pregnant and dealing with PTSD, and have since naturally incorporated it into my daily life.

    Allowing myself total relaxation (like Anthony said below, I had to feel it was OK), and focusing on my breathing not only helped me with my anxiety issues, it heightened my awareness and improved my breathing technique as a singer! Triple win! When I feel that stress creeing up on me, (because it often comes unannounced, when you're unprepared), I just breathe.

    Breathe.

    Breathe.
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      Jun 16 2013: Yes!!! Keep breathing....slowly......deeply.....with intent to relax:>)
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      Jun 16 2013: Dealing with PTSD is difficult. I can definitely see breathing techniques as a good way to lower anxiety and stress. Sometimes we just need to slow down a bit. I could definitely benefit from that.

      Our mind races sometimes, and that is not always productive. A more focused mind-set is a more productive one.
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        Jun 16 2013: Our mind races.......hmmmmmm.......who programs our mind?

        I agree.....a more focused mind-set is more productive, and we have the ability to be more focused.....it is a choice:>)
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          Jun 16 2013: Many things program our mind. Environmental factors and the conclusions we come to using information can do the programming.

          Environmental factors include family, natural elements, friends, and even people we work with. Internal perceptions can also program us. You take a natural element (x) and combine it with a friend's opinion (y) and you get a bit of programming.

          It is up to us to audit that programming. We must then either accept it or reprogram ourselves. The choice is sometimes difficult to make. People tend to embrace their opinions for no real reason. I do believe we all have the right to our unique perspectives. However, I do think we should be working towards a balanced state.

          Although everything seems subjective, a balanced state is not. Balanced is an absolute state we should all try to achieve. It is difficult. However, I get closer every day.
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        Jun 16 2013: Henry,
        External factors can program our mind IF/WHEN we accept the information and come to conclusions with our own thought process.

        Environmental factors such as family, natural elements, friends, people we work with and interactive with daily can certainly contribute to our programming. As thinking, feeling adults however, we can choose what we accept and focus on.

        I am focusing on this, because people often say something like you did....."our mind races"......as if we have no control of our mind. We do. It doesn't race on it's own.....we drive it.....yes?

        Like you insightfully say.....it is up to us to audit, sift through information, evaluate the potential for programming, accept, or reprogram. That's the only point I was trying to make.....we have choices, and balance is always good:>)
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          Jun 16 2013: We do have the ability to control our mind. That doesn't mean we are experts at it. Your mind may race at times, and it is the individual's responsibility to slow themselves down.

          I don't believe this means you can get to a point where you have total control. A good example is soldiers in combat. They go through extensive training to program their minds in cases where instincts take over.

          Without training, an impulse reaction may be the wrong reaction. I wasn't trying to imply we have no control. I was merely stating that these mind-sets do have an impact at times, and it is up to us to gain control when we have lost it.

          Assuming you will never lose full control is dangerous. It may put you into stages of denial, all the while losing total control. We need to identify moments in time where we are not in full control of our emotions.

          We do drive it, but it can drive us at times. The key is getting back in the driver's seat.
        • Jun 19 2013: This is SO recognizable!

          At this moment, I am finding myself in a very unrelaxed state of mind, all due to external factors. Making a decision that benefits me will mean disappointing others, and as a perpetual people-pleaser, this is ine of the hardest things I have to do.
          I do recognize the feeling of 'losing control' though, in a subconscious attempt, I think, to please those around me, but resulting in loss of what I need - the good ole 'can't see the forest for the trees' scenario. My parents are visiting us right now, and I see they ar the same way. Can this kind of thing be genetic?
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        Jun 16 2013: I agree Henry....we have ability to control, or train our mind, and there are some people who are really good at it. Some meditators are pretty good, and there are many different levels of training or mind control.

        I don't think I said anything about "assuming you will never lose full control". You say..."we need to identify moments when we are not in control......good point. That comes back to "know thyself".
        Yup.....that's the key all right....staying in the drivers seat!
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      • Jun 20 2013: Yes, it's a family trait, we all picked it up...!

        I have made the list, and in doing so, made the decision. It was so clear, in fact, that I found relaxation again! Slept like a baby last night, in fact! There's an interesting thing, the idea of putting down my thoughts about how I felt was more nerve-wrecking than the decision itself... What are your thoughts on that?
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      Jun 20 2013: Lizanne and Kate,
      I agree that it is probably a learned behavior, and we assimilate a LOT of information from our parents because they are our teachers at an imprssionable age.

      Lizanne, you say..."I do recognize the feeling of 'losing control' though, in a subconscious attempt, I think, to please those around me, but resulting in loss of what I need...."

      You are aware of this...you recognize it, so it is not only subconscious anymore correct? Ask yourself the question...."Why am I willing to give something to someone else to please them, in favor of taking care of myself"?

      I agree with Kate regarding the ripple effect. Sometimes, when we make decisions to please others, that is felt on a deep level by the recipient, and s/he then feels obligated to do the same for us. When people feel that we are genuinely giving because that is what we want to do with no attachments, it frees everyone to do the same thing.

      Do you want people to do things for you out of a feeling of obligation, in favor of taking care of themselves and really doing what they want to do? Do unto others.....? I believe all of this is felt on an energy level.

      We can do many of the same things, and be clear about our intent. Example:
      I LOVE the gardens, and in the past couple years the gardens have been neglected because 3 of my brothers have had physical challenges and needed care. My brothers know me, and they KNOW I spent time with them because that is what I genuinely wanted to do.

      Some folks say to me....don't you feel bad about the gardens....they are so neglected....it's too bad that you had to do caregiving....bla....bla....bla.

      I made a choice regarding my priority....I love the gardens.....I love my brothers (they helped me build the gardens)....I consciously chose where I wanted to spend my time. I did not help care for them out of obligation....it was totally out of love.

      One of the borthers died in Jan., two of them are doing ok for now, and it's time to reclaim the gardens:>)
      • Jun 20 2013: Colleen, you caught me being conscious!
        I am also heart-warmed by your decision to be with your brothers. The reactions you heard makes me question the integrity of people who find a garden more important than a human being...!

        YES, I did not spend years in therapy learning awareness to allow my subconscious to take over.
        It reminds me of the smoking convo - I have a tough time with self-worth.. But I'm learning! I'm getting there!

        As I told Kate just now, I have made the decision... Because I so fully stand behind it, I am not worried about 'breaking the news' either.

        Relaxation.
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          Jun 20 2013: LOL! I caught you being conscious Lizanne? Based on all your comments, you seem pretty conscious, alert and intelligent most, if not all of the time:>)

          I don't question the integrity of people because of their reactions. Many people are not comfortable with death and sickness, and I believe that is where the reactions came from.

          Regarding self-worth:
          I'm not going to give you a big lecture, because you've heard it all before, and I think/feel in your heart you KNOW it. I believe in you, I'm sure many other people believe in you. That's all you have to do darlin', is believe in yourself:>)

          Good job on the decision.....whatever it was......kudos to you if you feel good and relaxed about it:>)
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          Jun 21 2013: The choice was not difficult Kate.

          People often have difficulty facing even the thought of sickness, injury, death, abuse, incarceration, etc., so with my volunteer work in these areas, I was often asked why? Why are you doing that?

          "If I'm not part of the solution, I am part of the problem", is not just a saying for me. It is very much a part of my life experience in every moment, and it feels like you live your life in this way as well?

          In my perception, knowing myself, and how I want to "BE" in our world, is a step toward constantly improving my life experience:>)

          "The winds of Grace are blowing all the time. It is up to us to raise our sails"
          (Ramakrishna)
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