Tip #143: Have one go-to ‘happy place’ that you can easily conjure in your mind.
The Why: It is my firm belief that there is a tip or trick for anytime, for anyone and for any place. But there are a select few that you can definately do everywhere, and a select few that you definately can’t (or more accurately, shouldn’t).
For instance, if facing anxiety in the classroom, getting pumped and angry to go into fight mode and get rid of that spare adrenaline may not be the best look.
However, one tip that can definately be used anywhere, at any time, is the happy place.
Think of it like being able to take a brief vacation in your mind, without paying for flights! Hooray!
Firstly, when deciding on your happy place, it’s crucial to look at what exactly you want from this exercise. Typically, people may come up with a calm beach with a glistening blue ocean, a field of poppies, an island of puppies (this actually exists by the way).
But this isn’t about what other people find calming, its about what you find calming. If you find looking at a shelf of cookies to be more calming than the sea, picture that. If you imagine sitting in a room of pillows to be more settling to the nerves than all that pollen swilring around you, picture that. As always, think about what works for you.
Secondly, try to picture a place or situation that you’ve actually been to or been in. This is because its all well and good trying to imagine the sea, but I’ve only been to stormy British beaches in my recent past (which isn’t exactly a soothing holiday with seagulls stealing your food and damp sand in places it shouldn’t be).
Imagining a place or situation that you’ve experienced that has calmed you or that you felt happy in makes it more tangible and visceral. You can hear/taste/touch/smell/feel because you remember what it was like, meaning you can really teleport yourself there, rather than trying to teleport yourself into a mountain-sunset stock photo. I once knew someone who visualised themselves in bed with fluffy socks on – how lovely.
Thirdly, practice a few times going to your happy place when you’re not feeling anxious. This is to really cement that image into your brain with practice, meaning that when you do feel a panic attack coming on, you can immidietely conjure it into your mind, rather than stressing even more that you can’t remember what colour the sky was that lovely day in London (it was probably grey-ish to be honest).
Lastly, don’t just visualise but actively talk yourself through your happy place. Tell yourself what you’re feeling, tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing. This will not only ground you back to reality, but also make the image feel much more real. Furthermore, it will also keep your brain nice and distracted, so the swirling vortex of awful thoughts ceases.
Now, grab your mental passports, train tickets, or shoes, and get going to your happy place!
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