To Turn Down Anxiety, Turn Up Curiosity

Our brains are wired to turn out to be overactive in troubled instances, and we’re wired evolutionarily to search for the unfavourable. This “negativity bias,” in spite of everything, was a really efficient survival software. If you’re vigilant historical man on guard for a human or animal predator, you usually tend to discover it and escape. Simply suppose—all of our ancestors have been actually good at excited about and getting ready for the worst-case situation; in the event that they weren’t, we wouldn’t be right here in the present day.

However there’s excellent news in terms of the right way to successfully push again on anxious and unfavourable ideas. Elevating the I, for Mental, in WBI’s SPIRE mannequin of well-being—which we will additionally consider as curiosity—will help with managing anxious ideas. 

Right here is the analogy as offered by Steven Hayes of the College of Nevada’s Division of Psychology. Faux that you’re in an anxious state. Consider this situation as having a quantity on a dial or knob, as you would possibly discover on a stereo. Faux your anxiousness stage fluctuates between a 5 and a 9 out of 10 on most days. Even should you work actually laborious at decreasing your anxiousness, maybe via a progressive rest meditation or strolling exterior or speaking with a good friend, this might not be sufficient. You are feeling higher for a short while as you discover decrease numbers. Then, all it takes is switching on the information, collaborating in a unique dialog, or studying a troubling Fb submit, e mail, or textual content, and up goes your anxiousness by just a few factors. You will have undone your entire good calming work! 

Now, think about, as an alternative of instantly focusing on your “anxiousness knob,” you understand that you’ve got a second, hidden knob. This knob is named the “curiosity knob” or the “explorer knob.” Identical to the anxiousness knob, it might probably go from zero to 10. All alongside, you will have been focusing your consideration on dialing your anxiousness knob decrease utilizing coping methods which will or could not work. Do this new technique: Depart your anxiousness knob alone and switch your consideration elsewhere by turning up the “curious explorer” knob. 

How do you progress up “curious explorer?” Maybe you resolve to spend money on an exercise that you’ve got by no means participated in earlier than, like a dance class, or an internet course, or a mountain biking group. You totally have interaction in these actions and—wow—you discover that turning up the curious explorer helps to show down anxiousness. Right here you’re focusing on anxiousness, however via a unique path. 

For example, consider a latest time once you purposefully engaged in a reasonably novel and pleasant exercise, and also you realized that your stress was decrease and your happiness greater. By taking your thoughts off your worries via actively collaborating in a conscious exercise, you not directly dialed down your stress stage.

Mindfulness and anxiousness can’t reside in the identical place on the identical time. Flip up curiosity to show down anxiousness. I discovered this concept not solely intriguing however good. In any case, curiosity was what first led me to optimistic psychology, and gave me a complete new set of instruments to make use of as a well being coach. So, I made a decision to do that sage recommendation myself by purposefully partaking in new actions frequently. I subscribed to an internet health platform, and have been collaborating in dance courses just a few instances weekly. (Look out, Missy Elliott!) Anxiousness down, happiness up! 

Subsequent, I joined a good friend on a hike up on Mount Washington right here in Pittsburgh—a night hike via the forest, overlooking the highways under, to observe the moon rise. We had headlamps and the whole lot! Wonderful! Curiosity was undoubtedly up! My well-being was lifted that night time and for a lot of days after.  

Subsequent, I accepted an invite to take part in a forest bathing exercise, which is basically working towards mindfulness in nature. Throughout this expertise, we have been invited to concentrate with all of our senses to the world round us. We seen the sights and sounds of animals and bugs scurrying round us, and the mushy sound of the flowing water. I felt peaceable and uplifted afterward. 

So, for my part and expertise, elevating curiosity undoubtedly works as a software to cut back anxiousness and lift happiness ranges. Possibly you’ll take a few of my ideas, or uncover your individual, rotating in unfamiliar experiences recurrently. The mind loves novelty! In her guide The How of Happiness, Sonya Lyubomirsky reminds us that whereas one happiness exercise could delight you proper now, it could not have the identical impact subsequent month. So attempt new issues, and take a look at them usually. 

Inquisitive about the right way to combine optimistic psychology into your teaching follow? Study extra about Sandy’s WBI course, Introduction to Wholebeing Happiness for Coaches. This interactive 5-week on-line course will provide you with the science, expertise, and sensible handouts to help your teaching purchasers on their journey in direction of higher happiness and optimum well-being.

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