A Simple 3-Step Strategy To Stay On An Even Keel

We always hear people talk about stress. We associate stress with bad stuff: depression, too much work, divorce. But what if I told you that excitement and happiness can lead to stress, too. It can. It’s not good to get too high or too low. The key is to stay on an even keel. 

Lately, I’ve been feeling good. Life has been smooth. I’ve been super creative and productive. Exciting things have been happening in both my professional life and my personal life. I’m happy. So what’s wrong with that?

Happiness Can Wear You Out

Sometimes when we’re giddy with excitement, we forget to stop, breathe, and relax. This can have negative health effects over time. Through the years, I’ve learned to catch myself when I start to fall, but I’m just now learning to hold myself back before I climb too high.

Studies have shown that too much happiness, or too much pursuit of happiness, can make you gullible, selfish, and less successful. We all understand that negative emotions can take their toll on our health, but positive emotions can elevate high-risk behaviors like drinking and overeating. Who’d have thunk it?

Some Articles About The Downside Of Happy

The answer lies in the middle. To stay on an even keel we need to find balance: not too many highs, not too many lows. Here’s what I recommend. It’s a simple three-step strategy.

How To Stay On An Even Keel

  1. Walk: I’m a big advocate for walking. I’ve found that walking picks me up when I’m feeling down. It also slows me down when I’m rushing with excitement. Walking gives the body, mind, and spirit a chance to refresh. It allows space to contemplate and meditate. As you walk, use your senses. Take in your surroundings. Notice the details, the birds, the trees, the wind. This will help to relax your mind from whatever is bothering or exciting you.  
  2. Breathe: How often do you stop to take an intentional deep breath of air? You should breathe deeply every day. I’ve intentionally connected walking and breathing. When I walk, I focus on my breath. I make a point to fill my lungs to capacity and then exhale slowly. I focus on my abdomen. I do this as I walk briskly. The result is a combination of relaxation and exercise. It creates an amazing sense of peace and tranquility, not happiness, but contentment. It helps to keep me on an even keel.  
  3. Repeat: There are other things to consider to keep oneself on an even keel: diet, relationships, and sleeping habits to mention a few. But walking and breathing go a long way to help keep those things in balance. That’s why this third step is so important. Don’t stop walking and breathing. Make walking a daily habit. I walk 2-3 miles almost every day. I focus on my breath as I walk. I repeat. 

Walk, Breathe, Calm

So the next time you’re feeling overjoyed or under-appreciated, go for a walk. Calm yourself down. Breathe deeply and observe the world around you. You might find yourself feeling content: not too high, not too low. That’s an even keel. After all, who wants to get sick from too much happiness?

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James Ewen
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