8 Really easy things this psychotherapist does to stay calm – healthista static electricity images

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You can avoid being reactive by listening to your feelings and knowing when we’re getting overloaded –you’re more likely to react when you’re overloaded. When I notice I’m getting full up, I get out of the situation, go for a walk, and come back when I’ve cooled down a bit.

Running a busy psychology hub and therapy practice is a lot of work. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Recognising I can’t do it all is a start, and while I have high expectations of myself, I try not to pretend I can do it all. Secondly, one of the greatest skills I’ve developed is the art of saying ‘no’. Getting ahead of the game by choosing projects I can actually manage is a good start. When things get overwhelming, it’s time to sort my priorities and make sure I’m working efficiently.

However, even with the best systems overwhelm can happen. So make sure if you’re approaching burnout, get some time away, even if you can only manage an afternoon. You may think you can’t spare the time, but a few hours here and there is a sight better than total burnout. When negative thoughts about the future arise

I ask myself – what is within and what is outside my zone of control? For the things I do have control over I ask what I can do today to make a difference. Then I’ll do what I can to get started. I’ll do tomorrow what I can do tomorrow, and next year what I can do then, but I can’t get hung up on next year right now.

For those things outside my zone of control, I do my best to accept them, which can be difficult. There’s no point in worrying over what is already set in motion and cannot be changed. Just concentrate on meeting those challenges with equanimity and get help when necessary. When I’m panicking

If you are in a state of panic because you accidentally emailed the wrong person or didn’t get the answer you were expecting, it’s not doing you much good. In these cases take a step away from your panic. Take a deep breath, then take another. Feel your feet rooted to the ground and tell yourself gently that you’re going to get through this, it’s not the end of the world.

If it happens to be the end of the world, well, then that’s out of your control, and the best thing to do is to accept it rather than panic about it. I must admit that in this case, I’d probably panic too, but who said I was perfect? If I feel road/commute rage

I tend to cycle to work, which means I probably cause more road rage than experience it! But if I do, I have to ask, ‘what’s the point?’. Red lights are going to be red (and they always turn red just you approach them). People won’t always be kind, and selfish drivers will cut you off. But what can you do? See traffic as a dance. Sometimes someone will step on your toes.

Nobody likes spending precious life time waiting on hold to complain about a curious charge on a gas bill, but hey, such is life, right? By accepting these things as a part of life rather than some ugly beast that gets in the way, we can just deal with it, without turning into monsters. Hey, I’m not perfect

Far from it. It just so happens I wrote the book about ‘calm’ so people expect me to have a guru-like capacity for stillness. Well, twenty years of experience as a therapist has taught be a lot, and I’m pretty good at calming others, but following one’s own advice is always a challenge. I get mad about the big things (the state of the world, the environment, politics) and I can get furious about the little things (jammed printers are a particular pet peeve) too.

But I won’t lie – these days I do pretty well preparing so I don’t get overloaded, and when I do, I recognise it relatively quickly and come down much faster than I used to. We cannot expect to be buddhas, but we can learn to prevent ourselves from losing our cool too much. When that fails, try to be mindful, catch yourself when you’re losing it, break the cycle, and clear up the damage shortly after by saying “sorry”. If you can do that, you’re doing pretty well.

Dr Aaron Balick is a clinical psychotherapist with more than 15 years’ experience. He is a media consultant who regularly appears on TV and Radio. Aaron writes regularly for the Huffington Post UK, and has written for Wired, BBC News, Guardian, Telegraph and the Independent. He consults for the BBC on their mental health programming for young people and has been a regular voice for psychology on BBC Radio 1’s The Surgery. He recently appeared in the BAFTA nominated documentary Suicide and Me with Professor Green. WIN £250 worth of energy boosting food and aromatherapy

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