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Article  •  27 January 2022


Three practical tools for finding calm

Dr Sarb Johal, a leading New Zealand psychologist and author of Finding Calm, shares three practical tools for finding calm in your life.

First, think about how you think about your life compared to others. If you compare your life to other people’s lives, or life in other cities or countries, then you can easily feel depressed and bad about yourself and your efforts. Comparison with others is a destructive trap, and you don’t have to buy into it. Notice when you are comparing yourself to others, and focus on your own forward movement — measure where you are now compared to last week, last month, or last year and appreciate what you have achieved. It might not look like a lot, but remember that in this uncertain world, it’s still likely to be progress.

Second, remove the ‘noise’ and simplify. When you’re finding things difficult, figure out what’s absolutely necessary and remove everything else. We often fall into the trap of trying to multi-task. Multi-tasking triggers certain reward systems in our brains that make it feel like we are heroic overachievers, when actually it fragments our attention and means that we not only do things less efficiently but also get more stressed and irritated. Removing distractions so you can single-task is likely to be a better, less frustrating experience. Simplify wherever and whenever you can to reduce the risk of overwhelm.

Third, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Nothing goes well all the time. Everyone goes through periods when work, or some part of work, is going badly. Or there are difficulties in close relationships. Or life seems to be full of problems. If you place all your sense of self-worth into just one aspect of your life — often this is work, or being a ‘good’ parent — there will be times when you can feel very vulnerable. When you do feel low, think about how much of your sense of self-worth is bound to just one aspect of your life. To protect yourself from this kind of dependency, it’s wise to place importance on several areas of your life: work, friends, kids, pets, family, hobbies, inside and outside the home, social and solitary. At any point that one part of your life doesn’t seem to go well, you can draw comfort and support from other parts.

Find more practical advice in Finding Calm.

Finding Calm Sarb Johal

We live in a troubled world - so many changes, so many uncertainties. This book gives a range of practical skills to help anyone come to terms with feelings of anxiety and learn to thrive.

Buy now
Buy now

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