keep calm: 5 tips for preventing panic

Calm
 

As you may have read in previous posts, anxiety is something I struggle with from time to time. Sometimes it's not so bad -- just a bit of a tickling annoyance at the back of my mind -- and other times it's drive-me-mad frustrating, keeping me from doing things I want to do and preventing me from living the positive, present life I spend so much time writing about. There are a lot of unpleasant aspects of anxiety, but one of the worst parts is feeling panicky.

Even if you don't have anxiety on a regular basis, you've probably experienced panic at some point in your life -- those moments when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing with ideas (some completely irrational) about what's happening. It's not a pleasant experience and, even if there's something legitimate to feel panicked about, panicking never helps make a situation better. It only heightens anxious feelings and makes it more difficult to take positive, productive action.  

Once panicky feelings start, however, they can be tough to get control over, which is why it's important to try your best prevent the panic before it begins. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible, like if you're sudden, dangerous, actually-life-threatening situation. But, more often than not, things we panic about are a result of the way we're seeing a situation, and don't necessarily reflect what's actually happening.

Because tomorrow is the second annual International Day of Calm, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on how to keep calm on a regular basis. This way, if you are presented with a situation that makes you feel panicky, you'll be better equipped to cope with it. Here are five of my best tips for preventing panic...

(And stay tuned for two awesome keep-calm goodies mentioned at the end of the post!)

 

TRY TO FIND CALM DAILY. 

We usually hear the phrases "keep calm" or "calm down" only when there's already an anxiety-inducing situation right in front of us, but if you want to reduce panicky feelings in the future, it helps to practice calm on a daily basis. Creating calming routines for yourself (especially at the beginning and end of your day) can be really helpful. Also, taking advantage of calming resources: books like Calm or Stay Positive and apps like Calm are great places to start. Anything you can incorporate into your life on a daily basis to make you feel more peaceful will help add to your state of calm whenever you feel panicky. 

 

RECOGNIZE YOUR REACTIONS. 

When it comes to preventing full-blown panic, one essential step is to recognize how you're reacting to a situation so you can understand (and rein in) your emotions before they get to an irrational place. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to your body. Is your heart beating faster? Are your palms sweaty? Are your muscles tensing? Is your breath coming more quickly? When you're aware of what's happening to you physically, you can put yourself in a better mindset to avoid panic. You can remove yourself from a situation or ask someone else to talk you through what you're experiencing. 

 

CENTER YOURSELF IN REALITY. 

One of the most vital steps for preventing panic is to ask yourself, What's actually happening? So much of panic is a result of what we think is going to happen, not what's factually right in front of us. For example, let's say you're going through a breakup. It's common to start in with panicky thoughts like, I'm going to be alone forever. Oh god, no one is going to date me now. I'm never going to find love again. Those thoughts are all based on the future -- and a very dismal future at that. In the present moment, the only thing that's happening is you're suffering from heartbreak, which you will recover from. Bring your focus to the present and it becomes much more difficult to launch into panic mode. 

 

ACCEPT WHAT'S HAPPENING. 

Part of panicking is detaching yourself from reality, allowing your mind to spiral into a maze of irrational thoughts. As unsettling as these thoughts are (usually of the all-or-nothing variety, like, Everything is ruined! No one will ever want me! Nothing will ever be the same!), we often use the panicky thoughts to distract ourselves from the real pain right in front of us: the heartache, the loss, the realization that we've done something wrong. It's hard to do, but acceptance of the actual situation is key for redirecting panic into a more productive outlet. Yes, you might have lost your job, but thinking, no one will ever hire me now is certainly not going to get you a new one. What will is accepting the loss and striving to move positively forward by taking action in the present (going to a job fair, applying for new jobs online, etc.). 

 

FIND A SELF-SOOTHING TECHNIQUE. 

Acceptance is hard, but once you do that, you're in a much better place to prevent panic. Still, it can creep up on you sometimes, like a stealthy little snake in the grass, and when that happens, it's a good idea to have a self-soothing technique that helps to take your mind to a calmer place. Your self-soothing technique can be anything from taking a few deep breaths to using a mantra (like "keep calm" or, my personal favorite, "you're okay") to calling up a calming friend for a quick chat. Whatever your calming weapon of choice, make sure it's something you can always have in your holster -- an easily accessible tool that you can whip out whenever you might feel a bit panic-stricken. 

 

*KEEP CALM GOODIES!* 

Calm-book-meta

For the second annual International Day of Calm (April 5, 2016), I've partnered with Calm, a popular meditation app and book, to provide you with some keep-calm goodies!

  1. Get 25% off a yearlong subscription to the Calm app by visiting Calm.com/PositivelyPresent.
  2. Pop on over to my Instagram account for details on how you can win a copy of Calm the book!  

 


PPGTL-Get-the-Book
Want to explore how to have even more calm in your life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)


positively present picks : april 1, 2016

Be still
 

Quote-of-the-week

"Pull away from what doesn't push you forward."

Amber Ibarreche
 

Links-I-Love   

Snapchat! : I'm obsessed with it! follow me (positivepresent)

Making a Difference : my interview on The High Heeled Paper Girl

Feng Shui Magic : loved reading this great interview! 

7 Ways to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed : and get some stuff done

Why Strong Relationships Stem from Self-Love : self-love is vital

75 Simple Life Rules : these are all so simple but essential

Emoji Slippers! : how adorable are these little guys?!

12 Strategies for Outsmarting Stress : love #11 in particular

  

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Hotline Bling" — Mila J
"Here's to Us" — Ellie Goulding
"Don't Wait for Me" — Flawes
"All Along" — Mirror Signal
"Rock Bottom" — Hailee Steinfeld
"Kaleidoscope"— Brookfield
"Back to You" — WILD
"Want You" — Bearson ft. Cal
"Deep End" — Birdy
"Oh" — Mt. Si

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

The Conditions of Love
Dale M. Kushner

The Happiness Equation:
Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything

Neil Pasricha
  

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro


work + rest: how to find a perfect balance

Work Rest
 

Work and rest. Two things we must all do, and two things we often struggle with. For some, working comes easily -- we're always on the go, always doing something that makes us feel productive. For others, it's the rest that comes without struggle -- we're content to lie on the couch all day, ignoring the ever-lengthening to-do list.

Those who fall on the work end of the spectrum often long for rest, but even when they're offered a day off or try to have a lazy Sunday, they always find themselves restless and work-focused. Those on the other end of the spectrum also struggle; though they might have the benefit of lots of rest and relaxation, they find it challenging to get things done and often feel anxious about the lack of work they've accomplished. Many are lucky to fall somewhere in the middle of the work/rest spectrum, but for those who aren't, every day can be a test of willpower and motivation.  

Regardless of whether you're generally better at working or better at resting (or somewhere in between), you've probably found yourself with different strengths at different times in your life. For example, if you're doing work you love, you might find yourself always wanting to work (and doing very little resting). Or, if you've recently suffered emotional or physical pain, you might find it hard to find motivation to work and may be spending more time than you'd like on the couch or in bed. Life is filled with ups and downs, of course, and there is a time for resting and a time for working, but if you find yourself doing one much more than you'd like, here are some tips for creating more work/rest balance... 

 

IF YOU FEEL YOU WORK TOO MUCH... 


Ask for help. 

One of the best things you can do if yourself overwhelmed with working more than you should is ask for help. If you're a do-it-yourself kind of person (I can relate!) sometimes it might not even occur to you that someone else could help you out with part of your job. Outsourcing, asking a coworker for assistance, or saying no to new projects when you already have a ton on your plate are just some ways you can ask for help. And pay attention to all the jobs you have, too. Being a parent, a friend, a mentor, etc. -- those are also jobs. If you're struggling to balance them all and aren't getting enough rest, speak up and ask those around you to lend a hand.  

 

Take a day off. 

For hardcore worker bees, the idea of a day off might sound like a disaster -- the perfect opportunity for things to pile up on your desk and for emails to overwhelm your inbox. But remember this: the more rested and relaxed you are, the better you'll be at your job. And often the best way to rest is to take a day off work -- and I'm talking about a real day off. No emails. No "just checking in." And honest-to-god, no-work-whatsoever day off. This also shouldn't be an actual vacation because those often come with different kinds of travel-related stress. Take a day of just to stay at home and do nothing but relax. 

 

Change locations. 

When you find yourself working all of the time, it's usually because work is all around you. You're either at the office all the time or in front of your computer or phone. If you want to have a true break, it helps to get yourself out of your working routine and go somewhere different, even if it's just for a short period of time. Take a walk around your office building or grab a snack in the break room. Try your best to physically change where you are as often as you can during a day, preferably making sure some of those locations involve the outdoors. (It's much easier to relax when you're surrounded by nature!)

 

Put the phone down.

If you really want some quality rest, the most important thing you can do for yourself is put down your phone. It's one of the strongest ties to work (checking email is such a temptation!) so when you're really trying to relax, put your phone away. If this is hard for you (I know it is for me!), ask someone else to take it from you for an hour or so, or tuck it on a high shelf that's really annoying to access to make it harder for you to "just check one thing..." If you're dedicated to your work, putting the phone down will be challenging, but it's vital for true and meaningful rest. 

 

IF YOU FEEL YOU REST TOO MUCH... 


Get up (and dressed). 

Is your environment and lifestyle encouraging you to spend too much time resting? If you spend all day in your sweatpants, lying in bed with the TV on or your phone in your hand, it's going to be very difficult to get motivated. (As someone who works from home, this is one of my biggest struggles.) Your environment (and your attire) shape how you feel. If you're dressed for lounging, you're going to want to lounge. When you're feeling uninspired and struggling to get in a work mindset, start with your environment and your outfit. Put on something that makes you feel professional and put together and you'll be a lot less likely to spend all day vegging out. 

 

Break it down. 

One of the hardest things about getting to work when you're in an unmotivated mindset is thinking about how hard it will be get everything done. Instead of aiming to work all day, start out small. Tell yourself you'll tackle just one thing on your list, or you'll work on a big project for just 15-20 minutes. Breaking it down in this way makes it much easier to manage (making it more likely you'll actually attempt it). I've also found that once you start working on something (or complete one small task), you want to do more and before you know it, 15 minutes will have turned into an hour! 

 

Find a partner.  

We all have times in our lives when we feel less motivated and inspired. One way to perk yourself up (and get your buns in gear!) is by having a buddy that will help you stay on track. Find someone else who is struggling just like you and check in with each other daily (or more frequently) to see how much progress is being made. Or, find someone you really admire for their work ethic and ask him/her to hold you accountable for work tasks. Accountability is a huge element of an effective work environment and if you don't already have it built in (if you work for yourself or have a disinterested boss), create it for yourself by finding a partner. 

 

Put the phone down. 

Just as putting your phone down is vital for getting rest, it's also vital for getting work done. One of the greatest distractions in the world today is technology. Don't get me wrong -- I love it -- but it can be a huge time suck, draining you of attention and energy when you have a lot to accomplish. If you want to get work done, take your phone (or whatever other distraction you have) and put it away where you won't be tempted to look at it. I've found it to be 100% true that the less time I spend with my phone, the more work I get done. If this is a struggle for you, just put it away for 30 minutes at a time, or allow yourself set times of the day when you will check it. 

 

 

One final tip that works for both "workers" and "resters" is looking at the big picture. Pause for a moment and think about how you want to feel at the end of your life. What do you want to look back and see? There's no right or wrong answer to this -- we all have unique dreams and goals -- but, regardless of your individual desires, you probably don't want to look back on your life and see that you spent all of your time working or lazing about. You'll probably want to see that you did good work at times, that you relaxed at times, and that you had a nice work/rest balance. So, whenever you find yourself leaning to far toward one side of the spectrum, ask yourself: what will I think of myself when I look back at this moment years from now? That big-picture perspective can be just the reminder you need to take a break or break out of a work-too-much rut.  

  

Finding-Self-Cover

You know where else you can find balance? In yourself! If you're looking for some more soul-searching inspiration, check out the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


positively present picks : march 25, 2016

Spring


 

Quote-of-the-week

"In Spring, everything is full of promise..."

Charles Lanman
 

Links-I-Love   

Four New Books!!! : so excited about these :)

Lessons Learned from 24 Hours Without Complaining

Positively Happy Interviews : these are great! hear mine here.

(Pin)terested : so obsessed with pins (especially this!)

7 Ways to Find Happiness : bloggers offer tips + tricks

Getting What You Want Might Not Be Good : 5 reasons why

Easter Nails : these inspired my Easter manicure ;)

25 Things to Do Now (Thanks to Daylight Savings Time!)

Stop Procrastinating Instantly : 4 thoughts to get you going

The Art of Asking : absolutely love this quote

  

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Watercolors" — machineheart
"Let Me Know" — Passport to Stockholm
"Real Love" — Florrie
"Lips" — Oyster Kids
"Broken Love" — Rain Over St. Ambrose
"Best Song Ever"— One Direction
"Stuck" — Day Wave
"Sound of Your Heart" — Shawn Hook
"What You Talking About?" — Peter Bjorn and John
"Undercover" — Zara Larsson

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
J.K. Rowling

The Happiness Equation:
Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything

Neil Pasricha
  

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro


hooray! effortless inspiration coming soon!

New-Books

You might have already heard the news on Instagram awhile back, but today I'm officially sharing the details of my upcoming books! I'm soooo excited to announce that in 2016 I have not one, not two, but FOUR new books coming out! [Insert wide-eyed emoji face here.]

These four books are part of a series called Effortless Inspiration for a Happier Life, designed and written by me for Watkins Publishing. The goal of these compact books is to provide bite-sized inspiration and on-the-go insights on four topics that are absolutely essential for living a positively present life: living in the moment, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness. 

Creation of these little books began last year, and it's so exciting that they'll be arriving on bookshelves in 2016! Read on for more details about the series and the individual books. (And keep scrolling to see how you can download a free PDF sample!)

 

ABOUT THE EFFORTLESS INSPIRATION SERIES

What's so exciting about these books is how different they are from anything else I've created before (like Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present and The Positively Present Guide to Life)! Each little book features 18 inspirations quotes on a specific topic (Living in the MomentGratitude, Compassion, or Forgiveness) followed by an insightful explanation, a thought-provoking activity or question, and a memorable affirmation. The design and layout of these books was created with the goal of keeping inspiration accessible, providing insights that can be incorporated into day-to-day life.

Just as I strive to do here on Positively Present, these books were created with the intention of providing uplifting, inspiring content that you can actually use in your real life. Here's a sample from the Gratitude book: 

Gratitude-SampleDownload a PDF Sample Here!

Isn't it pretty?! I'm so pleased with how they turned out! (The colors pop even more in person!) Of course, looks aren't everything. The real purpose of these books is to zero in on important topics and here's a breakdown of each topic (with release dates!): 

 

LivingCover

Living in the Moment
(click to preorder!)

UK: May 19, 2016 / US: September 13, 2016

Life transpires in the present. Yet so often we let the present slip away, wasting precious seconds worrying about the future or ruminating about what's passed. Learning to live in the moment (also known as mindfulness) can have immense power to stop us focusing so much on doing and thinking and instead focus on being.

Living in the Moment inspires readers to think about mindfulness in a fresh way, while encouraging them to incorporate it into their everyday lives. Mindful people tend to feel more relaxed, less distracted, more balanced and decisive. They have increased energy and self-esteem as well as greater productivity, stronger relationships, and an enhanced immune system.

With its appealing design, uplifting content and friendly tone, this little book on living in the now provides beautiful, bite-sized inspiration for people around the world to live in the now. And, with increased awareness, we can really savor each of life's precious moments.

 

GratitudeCover

Gratitude
(click to preorder!)

UK: May 19, 2016 / US: September 13, 2016

Cultivating gratitude doesn't cost any money and doesn't take much time, but the benefits can be enormous, helping you focus on what you have rather than what you don't: friends and family, positive personal qualities, your surroundings, a healthy body, a vibrant mind, and the list goes on.

Research has shown that grateful people tend to be less envious, more relaxed, more humble, more emotionally resilient, and less materialistic. They have increased energy, greater self-esteem, increased productivity, and are able to build stronger relationships. What's more, when children see a thankful parent, they are more likely to become thankful children.

Modern design paired uplifting content make this little book on gratitude essential for anyone seeking beautiful, bite-sized inspiration to live more grateful, contented life.

 

CompassionCover 

Compassion
(click to preorder!)

UK / US: October 18, 2016

Compassion is the ability to feel sympathetic towards those who are suffering while desiring to relieve their pain. It's not just a feeling -- it's a desire to help others who are struggling or in pain. Imagine what the world would be like if we all experienced compassion on a daily basis!

Recent scientific research has shown that compassionate people tend to be more understanding, less angry, and less stressed than other people, with stronger relationships and even enhanced immune systems. People who live with compassion or show concern for others' wellbeing also tend to create a more harmonious atmosphere around them. Compassion breeds compassion, leading to all-round enhanced contentment.

Compassion is a topic that's often discussed around the world in relation to kindness and generosity, but rarely is it explored on is own. This little book, with its modern take on the subject and uplifting inspiration, brings light to a life-changing subject that will appeal to readers around the world.  

 

ForgivenessCover

Forgiveness
(click to preorder!)

UK / US: October 18, 2016

To forgive is to be free. Forgiveness is one of life's great challenges; it is so difficult to let go of anger and pain once you've been hurt. But people who forgive both themselves and others tend to feel more relaxed and open, have less risk of getting stressed or depressed, and experience stronger relationships.

Holding on to past resentments and negative energy tends to cause painful memories to fester in our subconscious, which prevents us from moving forward with joy in life. Learning forgiveness allows us to move on, to create more peace in our lives, and to release ourselves from re-experiencing painful moments. 

Tucked within the pages of this book, readers will find insights and inspiration for letting go of pain, cultivating a forgiving heart, and ultimately finding a deeper sense of awareness and peace. 

  

FABULOUS FEATURES

Each of the four books will feature a similar carefully-designed layout created with the intention of providing thought-provoking (but accessible!) content. The beauty of these little books is that, while they have a beautifully consistent layout (making them a gorgeous little collection as a whole), each one zeroes in on a very specific topic, allowing readers to really home in on the subject matter.

Though each book as a unique theme, they all share these fabulous features: 

  • Inspiring Quotes: Each book features 18 quotes on its specific subject. 18! That's a lot of quotes for one topic! It was so much fun to for me to go in search of these quotes, looking for inspiration that would spark new ways of thinking about each concept, and each one has been carefully chosen to suit each topic. 

  • Bite-Sized Wisdom: Quotes are wonderful (I can't get enough of them, as you may have seen on Instagram!), but sometimes it's nice to take them a step further and explore what they're actually saying. Each quote in each book is followed by a bit of wisdom written to provoke deeper thinking. 

  • Easy-to-Do Exercises: I know, "exercises" sounds like work, but I promise these are actually enjoyable -- and so, so worth it to create more presence, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness in your life. With each quote in the book, you'll find an activity you can do to bring inspiration into your life. 

  • Motivating Mantras: Mantras aren't something I use often, but sometimes you really just need a short phrase that you can use to remind yourself to focus your attention. Each section of each book concludes with a simple, powerful statement that you can use to remind yourself to stay present / grateful / compassionate / forgiving. 

  • Top 10 Lists: Sometimes you just need a list of actionable ideas to take what you've learned and apply it to your life. Each book features lists (like, "Top 10 Ways to Stay Present at Work") filled with inspiration to take the quotes and exercises even further in your day-to-day life. 

  • Beautiful Layouts: I designed these myself so I'm a tad bit biased, but I really think the layouts turned out beautifully. Of course the content is what's most important, but if it's beautifully packaged in bright colors with simple, inspiring illustrations, that certainly doesn't hurt, does it? 

 

If you have any desire to stay present, be grateful, cultivate compassion, or find forgiveness, these are absolutely the books for you. If you can't tell, I'm SUPER excited about these books, and I really hope you will be too! Yay for new books!