OK, everybody just chill out!

Doesn’t it seem lately like everyone’s on edge about something? A news item about the upcoming federal election in Canada, the latest bit out of Donald Trump’s mouth to the south of us, or a picture posted on Facebook can stir the outrage in even the quietest of us.

Stress is a part of our everyday lives. We can use some of it to empower us, to drive us to finish our to-do lists or to help us strive for bigger and better feats.

Or we can let it fester and send us around the bend.

It’s how we deal with stress that matters. A key part of that is using our relaxation time effectively.

How do you recharge? Do you gain energy from being around other people? Or do you recharge when you spend time alone?

Give me peace and quiet

If you’re like me, you recharge when you spend time alone. That makes me an introvert.

Say what? Bubbly, motivational speaker Janice is an introvert?

Oh you bet your sweet little rumpus I am! My profession has caused me to become even more introverted over time.

As a professional speaker, trainer and coach, I facilitate workshops, speak in front of crowds, host events and give presentations. I am always around people.

Just don’t let my loudness and charisma fool you.

One of my favourite ways to relax is gardening. It’s just me, my plants and the sounds of birds chirping or wind rustling the leaves. If I listen mindfully enough, I might even hear the earthworms move a little dirt.

My husband George is also a bit of an introvert. He chooses music to chill out.

And no, not Mozart or Beethoven — the kind of music you would expect to soothe the savage beast. He rocks out. Hard! He does his yard work with his ear buds in but I can sometimes hear the strains of guitar or the bass thump.

My sister Paula is the polar opposite. She can spend an active day with her family or at a big event and that’s relaxing for her.

This is my “me” time

Introverts get their energy from being alone. Extroverts find energy in being around other people.

This doesn’t mean introverts don’t enjoy being around people. It doesn’t even mean they’re shy — since you know me, you know it isn’t true!

It just means our energy stores are drained by being around people. And it means our top stress management strategy is to find “me” time.

We often can be found:

  • Gardening
  • Taking long solo walks
  • Going for a peaceful Sunday drive
  • Reading
  • Disconnecting from technology
  • Sending all calls to voicemail

Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, writes in Psychology Today that introverts spend a lot of time in their own minds.

We “may be quiet people in a noisy world, but we’re also internally noisy,” she says.

Indeed, we’re often caught up in letting our ego do all the talking!

Instead of being mindful, we’re being busy-minded.

Calm thyself, introvert

This is where my gardening comes in.

The digging, the watering and the nurturing of my precious plant babies gets me out of my own head. It gives me a moment to breathe, to feel the sun on my neck and to just be.

Introverts live in their minds. While our brains are buzzing, we need solitude in our physical lives, but to find true relaxation we have to quiet the mind.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, says mindfulness is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

Or, more simply, to be present.

The secret to mindfulness

Achieving peace of mind is easier than you think.

Here’s how I do it (when I’m not in the garden):

  1. Find a quiet place to sit still.
  2. Get comfortable and stay upright (otherwise, it’s too easy to fall asleep).
  3. Concentrate on your breathing, breathe in as deeply as you can through the nose, exhale as deeply as you can through an open mouth.
  4. Listen to your breathing and the other sounds around you.
  5. When you hear your mind start to think (and it will), bring your attention back to your breathing.
  6. Aim to sit for 10 minutes a day when you start out (it might be a good idea to set a timer). Go for longer and work yourself up to a half hour of mindfulness.

[tweetthis]The more you practise mindfulness, the more you can sit and focus on just you.[/tweetthis]

Once you achieve that state of relaxation, you, the introvert, can shut out the noises and pressures of your ego and the outside of the world.

It’s more than just a stress-management strategy! It can make it easier to deal with all those crazy extroverts!

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