Daily Practice

How to Calm Down Using the Shift Method.

Ever felt stressed out, anxious, worried, or overwhelmed?

Image Credit: Gary Larsen - The Far Side

Maybe you’re already running on empty. Maybe you’re on a deadline with way too much going on in your head and you get hit with a passive-aggressive email from your boss that just pushes you off the edge and makes you think something like…

“I can’t handle all of this!”

“I have so much to do I don’t even know where to start.”

“I’m freaking the F&$% out, man…”

“I feel like I’m drowning.”

“I’m pissed off all the time!”

Know what I’m talking about?

I constantly felt this way for YEARS…

I felt this way for so long that I actually got used to it.  It felt like my new normal.

I was in a high-paying, high-stress job with a lot of responsibilities and an endless quota. I was 24 and had made a million dollars in my career already. I justified it by “working hard and playing hard.”

I did what any single 24-year-old guy in this situation would do — go wild with the money. I bought a $106,000 Mercedes, traveled first class all over the country, went to every major sporting event, and got backstage tickets to concerts.

I thought this would make me happy. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. And it didn’t negate the fact that I was extremely stressed out from work. Since I never let my mind shut off, I was beyond burnt out.

You know the “Sunday Scaries”? Yeah, that was my everyday life.

I thought that making more money would solve the problem, so I worked longer, harder, and faster. The work just kept speeding up, and the play was speeding up, too. I was partying harder than ever, but I was absolutely miserable. And the spending continued.

One of the breaking points for me was sitting at the Super Bowl (in a $15,000 seat, mind you) next to Kevin Durant.... but I didn’t even feel like I was there. I took a picture with him and, of course, posted it on Instagram.

Yeah, I had a smile on my face, but I was anything but happy.

All I could do was check my phone constantly, thinking about how many likes and comments my photo was getting. I had the best seat in the house, but I missed the game because I was too busy staring at my phone watching the likes go up. I missed what was one of the best Super Bowls ever.

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you been at a concert or at dinner with friends but you are more focused on who did or didn’t like your posts? You’re physically there, but mentally so far away.

The thoughts in our heads become a prison if we let them. 

I remember flying to the NBA All-Star Game and thinking, “The only reason I’m going on this trip is so I can post an Instagram photo. What am I doing with my life?”

I thought, “Is this how I want to live and work for the next 30 years of my life?”

I was so caught up in everything going on, and constantly seeking validation from others, so much so that I was never present at family gatherings or friend get-togethers.

“If you’ve ever found yourself literally screaming at your computer because your WiFi connection isn’t strong enough to send an email, you know what I’m talking about.”

I’d be on vacation thinking about my friends at home. I’d be at work thinking about home, and be at home thinking about work. 

Here’s the problem:

I was never taught how to manage my thoughts & emotions.

I couldn’t handle everything being thrown at me. It was too much, too fast, too often. I just wanted to sell my stuff and move to Bali.

I was in this constant cycle of reacting to everything around me.

When you run at a baseline of super high stress all the time, the smallest things can put you over the edge. If you’ve ever found yourself literally screaming at your computer because your WiFi connection isn’t strong enough to send an email, you know what I’m talking about.

Life doesn’t have to be like this.

If you’re feeling stuck in the rat race and the noise of it all, here are three truths and my go-to method for creating chill amid the chaos.

Truth #1: We all have problems, but those problems are almost always bigger in our head than in real life.

When you’re able to put things in perspective — when you’re able to differentiate between true struggle and everyday B.S. — you feel grateful. You feel alive! You realize your problems are smaller than you make them out to be.

Truth #2: It’s possible to have a lot going on, but still feel calm and clear-headed.

When you feel calm inside, what’s happening OUTSIDE doesn’t affect you nearly as much. You don’t have to quit your high-pressure job to finally feel a sense of calm.

As you level up inside, you’re able to feel better about your outside conditions. The key is in learning how to “be here now.” When you’re at work, be at work. But when you leave and you’re with your friends, be with your friends.

Truth #3: Life is supposed to be fun.

It seems the older we get the less fun we have. I don’t know about but that is NOT how I want to lead the next 30 something years. 

We are so anti-fun as adults that we literally have to schedule it into our calendars. Fun should be a reflex, yet, we treat it like a reward system, and most of the time we’re just depriving ourselves. 

We mistakenly are told to believe fun can only exist when you have no problems. Life isn't about avoiding problems. It’s about having more fun while you solve them.

When life feels chaotic and you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s a simple way to calm down and feel better in minutes.

This method is so simple, you can start using it today.

You don't need to be spiritual.

You don’t have to rub crystals together or burn sage in your living room.

You don’t need tarot cards or a full moon either. 

This is a huge help in those times when you feel like you just need a break, need to pop a Xanax — when you’re just completely freaking out... spiraling.

We call it the SHIFT method.

You can apply this method anywhere, anytime; whether you're in the car, at your desk at work, in the airport bathroom, or waiting in line at Starbucks.

In 5 simple steps, you can shift an otherwise crappy day into a clear, fun, fulfilling day, without worrying about the past or feeling overwhelmed by the future.

As I’m sure you’re already guessed, “SHIFT” is an acronym for these 5 steps. Ready for ‘em? Ok then...here they are:

S is for “Sit up straight. Change your physical state”

The first step is to sit up straight. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Sit in a chair, on the floor, or against a wall if it’s more comfortable. You actually can stand if you want to. Just make sure you’re not slumped over.

The big idea here is just to change your current state — if you’re sitting in your office chair when you receive some bad news, stand up and shake it off.

If you’re lying in your bed and you start feeling anxious, sit up.

Change your current state and move with intention. 

Got it? Looking great.

H is for “Hear the story you’re telling yourself. Change your story, change your life”

Listen to the story you’re telling yourself.

A lot of our anxiety stems from stories we’ve created to make sense of our experiences. 

We make assumptions and fill our brains with worst-case scenarios.

Once you become aware of the stories you're telling yourself, you have the opportunity to go back, rewrite, and move forward.

Zoom all the way out and evaluate the story from a neutral perspective. Minimizing our space within the story activates the process of minimizing our attachment and connection to it.

Ask yourself:

  1. What are you assuming about the situation?
  2. What information could you be missing?
  3. How does the other party feel? What’s their perception of it?
  4. Do you have all of the information, or are you creating a fictional story?

Figuring out the “story” takes the stress out of the equation, give it a try.

“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.”

I is for “Inhale. Feel your body RELAX and RELEASE.”

Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose and slowly exhaling through your mouth. Feel your chest rise slightly with each inhale. Repeat this process a minimum of 3 times.

Your breath is your most accessible tool, and it can act as an anchor when things feel chaotic and out of control. Breath gives us back our power.

As you inhale, feel your body relax and release. Notice where you are feeling tension in your body. Your neck? Shoulders? Back? Jaw? Now lean away from the anxiety.

Follow these body cues to relax and release tension:

  • Drop your shoulders. ⁣
  • Unclench your jaw.⁣
  • Relax your forehead.⁣
  • Flatten your hands.⁣
  • Breathe in. ⁣
  • Breathe out.

Surrender into the energy and allow it to move through your body. As you release the tension, visualize the issue passing through you.

The story of my entire life has always been “I’m the fat kid” thus something is wrong with me and I am unlovable. That insecurity still follows me.

Recently I was boating in lake powell with a group of friends. After my turn on wake surf, I got back in the boat and didn't put my shirt on. We were cruising around some of the most beautiful slot canyons in the world but all I could think about was sucking in my gut as my shoulders, abs, and arms tensed up.

I quickly remembered to inhale and feel my body relax and release. When I let the tension move through my body so did the insecurity I was holding onto at that moment. With each inhale, I felt more grounded and relaxed in my body.

Within minutes my overwhelm disappeared. I was transported back into the canyon and was able to fully embrace the beautiful scenery. I ended up sharing an incredible moment with close friends shortly after.

The story of “I am the fat kid” isn't real — I made it up. But more importantly, it doesn’t need to be a part of my experience today.

Remember, intentional breathing helps us counter the physiological responses that come with intense emotions like anxiety, depression, or fear. You can use your breath to not only release tough emotions but to experience total body calm.

“During stressful moments, conscious breathing allows you to shift and release negative energy instead of storing it in your body. This is important, because stored-up energy often manifests as muscle tension and other physical ailments. Breath work has other benefits, too. It can increase alertness and oxygen flow and allow your body to release toxins more readily.” — Laura A. Peterson, R.N. Mayo Clinic

F is for “File it away. Drag that thought to a future folder or the trash.”

Unorganized thoughts pile up like dirty laundry. Nobody wants to navigate their thoughts in a crammed mental space reminiscent of a TLC Hoarders episode. This step is here to help you make space for clarity, focus, and chill.

This is where you take the problem, put it in a manila filing folder, title it and store it.

Some problems are in the future folder, challenges or tasks you can deal with next week or even the next few months, and others can be permanently deleted. The filing system is yours to create, the main goal is that you organize.

Say to yourself, “I am putting this away for now” and visualize putting it in a filing cabinet in your brain. Your filing cabinet can look like that clunky one in your parent’s garage or a sleek West Elm birchwood 3 drawers. Whatever works for you, visualize it and file.

What this visualization empowers you to do is take a break from worrying about what you can’t control in the present moment. Filing away really means organizing your chaos or surface-level anxieties that aren’t truly based on logic. This process will help you healthily compartmentalize the clutter in your brain that’s disturbing your peace today.

I've had those thoughts where I'm dreading something I have to do on Friday that I really don't want to do. I tell myself it's okay to address this on Friday but for now, I'm going to file that feeling for later. There are even thoughts that aren’t even relevant to my life right now, shadow self musings and worries that don’t deserve space in my brain — those go straight to the trash. Trash thoughts are the ones that don't serve you. A negative emotion, for example, maybe a rude scenario with someone that you can’t stop replaying. However, a future thought is something that might deal with work or relationships that you do need to address but just not right now that way it doesn't take away from personal time with family or friends.

I like to imagine that weirdly satisfying crunch noise your desktop trash bin makes as you drag an old doc or picture to it. And then the oh-so-satisfying view of a clean desktop. Your mind can enjoy that same clarity and easy navigation. Get filing.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli

T is for “Trust yourself. Smile and move forward.

One of my favorite quotes is, “If your life wasn’t going to work out, it would have fallen apart already.”

You've made it this far. You're still here, right? Things are going to work out and you need to trust yourself. Trust that you will move forward.

If life wasn't going to work out, it would've happened already. You're still here. You're reading this. Ever heard of the 5 by 5 rule? If it's not going to matter in five years, don't spend more than five minutes being upset about it.

Trust yourself. Think back on the trials you have already overcome. Nobody knows what is best for you but you. Trust that you can make the right decisions.You can do hard things and you can overcome the obstacles facing you today.  More than likely you’ve done this before and you'll do it again. Keep going and most importantly keep the faith and smile.

When I say smile, I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean truly smile, physically sit there and smile. Let a toothy grin wash across your face because there are instant mood-boosting benefits to the physical act of smiling.

Smiling stimulates the brain and it tricks your brain into thinking you are happy due to facial muscle memory. This isn’t a cute mystery stat I am pulling from thin air. A recent study from the American Psychological Association found that even a fake smile can have a positive effect on mood. 

Finally, move forward. Movement is life and when we engage and participate things have a way of working out. The universe responds to effort, so stop wallowing over the situation and get moving!

“If your life wasn’t going to work out, it would have fallen apart already.”


- It’s normal to feel stressed out. 

- It’s OK to take a time-out to calm down. 

- When you’re feeling stressed, take a quick 4-minute break.

- Remember the SHIFT Method: 

  • Sit up straight. Change your physical state.
  • Hear the story you're telling yourself. Change your story, change your life.
  • Inhale. Feel your body RELAX and RELEASE.
  • File it away. Drag that thought to a future folder or the trash.
  • Trust yourself. Smile and move forward.

Here’s the bottom line:

In my old job, my life was maxed out and I felt stress and anxiety all the time.

I thought I needed to leave in order to find any kind of balance.

After I left and started my own business, I was still stressed… Things popped up, worries came up, things happened…

It’s when I started using the SHIFT method that I was able to completely turn my life around. I’m not constantly on edge anymore. I finally know what it feels like to be relaxed, and yeah, it is all it’s cracked up to be.

You know what feels great? Not feeling miserable. With the SHIFT method, I’ve been able to gain the confidence I never had before. I feel more fulfilled, and I have deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Oh, and if I’m at a sporting event, you better believe I’m present and paying way more attention to the game than my phone. Finally, I’m living life in the moment.

And you can too.

What’s next?

If you’re interested in going deeper, I’m going to be recording a free video guiding you through this process. Click here to get on my email list and I’ll send it out to you. When you practice the SHIFT method, you’ll be feeling less stressed in no time.

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