As a psychiatrist, I’ve consistently seen with patients and in myself that resisting or stiffening during challenging times only increases stress and saps power, what I call bunker mentality. Everything becomes about defense, worry, and fear, not love. If you fight pain or adversity, the spasm of discomfort tightens. But when you relax suffering lessens.
Empaths and highly sensitive people are particularly susceptible to feeling overwhelm and worry in stressful times, especially when they obsessively watch the news about natural disasters, trauma, economic stress and violence, and then are not able to turn bad news off. During these times staying grounded and centered is the key to an empath’s well-being.
To bring yourself back into balance paying attention to your breath will help to center and relax you. In Hindu traditions, the breath is revered as prana, the sacred life energy. You can tap into this vitalizing force to reduce stress. Your breath cleanses toxicities from your body. The purifying power of breath involves inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. You also can exhale harmful emotions such as anxiety and fear. Conscious breathing will anchor you in your body and release stress.
Take time to practice this technique from my book Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People to release the worry you may be carrying in your body.
A Mantra to Release Worry
Worry comes from the Latin “to constrict.” It is a form of anxiety. You may worry about money, health, your family, or whether you’ll find love. You also may worry that if you don’t worry, something bad will happen–a form of superstition that I grew up with in a Jewish family. Having a legitimate concern, such as your child undergoing surgery, is natural. However, worry takes concern into the realm of suffering.
Chronic worry is your attempt to gain control over something that is out of your control. My Daoist teacher says, “If you are climbing a mountain and worrying about tomorrow, you will have a very difficult time.” Stretch your soul and set yourself free of worry by repeating this mantra:
May I be free of worry.
May I be free of stress.
May I stay in Now.
May I not project my fears into the future,
May I be free.
Set your intention. I will have mercy on myself when I worry. I will ask the suffering of worry to lift so I can face my challenges with clarity and faith.
Judith Orloff MD is bestselling author of the new book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life upon which these tips and article are based. Her insights in Emotional Freedom create a new convergence of healing paths for our stressed out world. An assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, Dr. Orloff's work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine and USA Today.