Can you talk yourself into relaxing?

Eve is in her mid-seventies. Her above-average height contributes to an imposing figure, always dressed in a bold colored and well-tailored trouser suit. She exudes a quiet confidence that she doesn’t have to prove to anyone. Her movements are slow and deliberate, her posture burdened by many years with too many responsibilities. However, when she lays her steely blue eyes upon you, you can virtually feel a force-field spring out of them. They almost hypnotize you into giving her your full attention as if an army colonel is about to address you with some vital information.

Only retired for three years, Eve has been a highly successful, ambitious, and wealthy businesswoman. She managed to crack into the “old boys club” of the corporate decision-making elite. These men commonly made key business policies on the tennis court, golf course, or exclusive restaurants.

Eve says, “Did I like to play golf? To be honest – no, I didn’t, but I did take professional lessons to reach a certain standard of play. If you weren’t a part of that scene, decisions got made without your input. Unfortunately, men often felt very threatened by my workplace position, especially as I was equal or even higher than them in the hierarchy. They were often out to get me, which caused a whole different level of stress.”

I asked Eve how she could relax with that kind of stress imposed upon her company position.

Her reply surprised me. “One of the things I do, and to this day I still do, is give myself a good talking to. When something is stressful and a lot is going on around me, I’m not feeling 100%. When I sense I’m nervous, I will use this opportunity to talk to myself. What I do and say is, “It’s time to take myself into the corner,” and then I physically go and face a corner of the room. This action gives me my own perspective because when you’re in the corner and looking at the corner, your back is exposed.”

I laugh out loud when I hear this as it reminds me of the punishment in schools for not focusing in class. “Go stand in the naughty corner!” would be the teacher’s admonishment.”

Eve laughs with me and replies, “When I’m in the privacy of my home or office, I sometimes scream to myself. But more often than not, I’m having a verbal conversation with myself mentally. I’m talking to myself in terms of:

  • Stop what you’re doing immediately!
  • Why are you in this situation?
  • Have you done the necessary steps to de-escalate the situation?
  • Do you have an idea of how you’re going to get out of this?

Eve continues, “As far back as my mid-twenties, I found that talking to myself, even if only mentally (quietly in thought), I was able to diffuse what was going on around me. And in those days, my heart rate would go up dramatically when I would do something that exacerbated my stress. I would go from 60 heartbeats a minute to 195 per minute in no time at all.”

Some further advice that I heartily agree with was, “I have always found when I’m in a situation with a lot of stress, that going and doing things for myself encourages me to relax. Massages are very effective. It does relax me and forces me to stop all outer activity.”

She also suggests, “Be aware of creating your own safety bubble that can help you de-stress.”

Lastly, Eve shares, “You have to be your own best critic, as opposed to being your own worst critic. I find that when it’s time to get into the corner routine, it helps immensely. Because once I’ve discussed matters over with myself, I have a straightforward way of testing its effectiveness. I find that my heart rate goes down.

I know this because I used to take my pulse to check in with my body. Currently, I have one of those monitors I put on my finger. It tells me immediately where my heart rate and oxygenation levels are. So I know the chats with myself are working because I can feel myself relaxing, and the Oximeter confirms it for me. I have even been known to put it on my finger as I go into the corner so I can watch the numbers go down.”

After thanking Eve, all I can think about is what a pragmatic, professional, and down-to-earth way of going about relaxing!

Wise advice indeed.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own views, for the reader’s information and education only.  This does not constitute legal, medical, or psychological advice. Where individuals have been named, I have had their express permission to quote them here, or I have changed names, gender, and circumstances to protect all individuals’ privacy completely.