What does it mean to be calm?
A calm person is not taken over by worry, anger, or excitement. A calm person is more powerfully in control of themself and more able to face life’s troubles. Calm people are not under the control of strong emotions even when there is cause for it. Stress, anxiety, fear, and worry are neither good nor bad. They are neutral descriptions of emotional states. The functional level of any of these are designed to serve a purpose; to warn us of a possible danger so we can prepare or protect; to motivate us to complete a project. While a dysfunctional level hinders rather than helps, being something that is malfunctioning and does not work the way it should. Below, we will discuss each of these feelings and what they look like at functional and dysfunctional levels.
Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness or dread, typically about something with an uncertain outcome.
Worry can be defined as giving way to anxiety or unease, or allowing your mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
Fear is a distressing feeling aroused by the anticipation of danger or awareness of threat, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.
Stress is a feeling of tension that can cause physical, emotional, or psychological strain. Stress can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, frightened, angry, or nervous.
Anxiety and worry are normal responses to the stresses in life, but different people may respond with different intensities to the same stressor. There are functional responses and dysfunctional responses to anxiety and worry.
Building the skills of a calmer life has many different aspects: body, mind, emotions, habits, environment, inputs, attitudes, values, prevention and planning. Learning how to change is different for each aspect we work on. What all the aspects have in common is assessing the current function, deciding what to change, building hope by creating a vision of how you would like this to be after you change, then planning step by step the way forward to move toward your goal.
Calmness has many components and within each of them is a set of individual skills you can develop that will help to get you through life making better decisions, having less distress, and having better relationships. Moving forward toward a calmer life consists of making a choice. After making the choice, moving forward happens step by step. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Your journey toward a calmer life has already begun.
This is an excerpt from the book Keeping Calm: Seven key skills to being calm in the midst of troubling times.
© Copyright Faith Winters