Stress, anxiety, and depression have origins. There is a place where they first manifest. Although individuals seeking psychotherapy may not always recognize this source, there was nonetheless a point in their timeline where the initial experience of these disorders emerged. They are not inherent or typical to human beings. That is why they are considered disorders. The natural order of humanity is peace, joy, love, connection, and relaxation. In fact, every motivation in life and every action is carried out with the purpose of achieving this state of peace.
There are various situations, events, or interactions with people that disrupt our peace, or throw us off balance. As soon as that occurs, our brains kick into action, looking and searching for a way to restore balance to the environment. If we are scared, our brains direct us to a place where we feel safe. If we are cold, we seek warmth. Similarly, if we are stressed, our goal is to de-stress. If we are anxious, it is to relieve the anxiety, and if depressed, we seek happiness.
Today, I present three simple rules that, if followed, will enable you to regain that sense of peace in your lives.
Rule #1: Spend time with people who bring you peace and joy.
Rule #2: Spend time in, and look forward to environments that bring you peace and joy.
Rule #3: Engage in activities that bring you peace and joy.
Discovering the origin of your stress, anxiety, or depressed mood can be important, and there are psychological methods that can assist in this exploration. However, today, I want to focus on the present and what you can do to find peace today. The brain is plastic; it can be molded and changed. Every time we have an experience or encounter something, our brain reshapes itself to that event by firing a very specific set of neurons.
If a person is exposed to anxiety-evoking, stressful, or sad experiences, then the brain will reshape itself to those experiences. If exposed for a prolonged period to such environments, we begin to perceive those things as normal because our brain has adapted to them. A person with this type of brain may experience peace or joy but find the experience strange, as the brain is not accustomed to it. They may typically gravitate back to the chaos that the brain is used to. It will take extra effort for these individuals to retrain (reshape) their brain to believe that peaceful and joy-filled environments are normal. Therefore, let the training begin.
Rule 1 is to spend time with people who bring you peace and joy—the ones you feel most loved by. Increase the presence of these people in your life. If you do not have any, then find some.
Rule 2 is to spend time looking forward to environments that bring you peace and joy—spaces where your senses are satisfied, and everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is comforting and peaceful. Plan to be in these spaces and look forward to them regularly.
Rule 3 is to engage in activities that bring you peace and joy. It can be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee in a comfortable chair in the morning for five minutes, taking a walk outside in the fresh air, having a conversation with a friend, visiting a relative, dancing, or playing with your dog. Create a list of at least 10 activities that you can engage in at any moment to boost yourself toward peace.
If you follow these three rules, you will eventually retrain your brain to accept peacefulness and joy as normal, ultimately lifting yourself out of the places where you feel stressed, anxious, and depressed.
At Hearthfire Psychology, we can certainly help you explore the root or origin of your stress, anxiety, and depression. Using Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and other therapeutic techniques, there is potential for you to find those answers. However, our seasoned clinicians will also guide you through the above rules to help you find that peace as soon as possible, which means today!