So many people are grappling with stress, anxiety, and overwhelm in these chaotic times. We are grieving as a collective in many ways while, at once, dealing with the upset or chaos in our personal life.
We’ve had to try and create new habits, new ways of being, new ways of living. Our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and overactive. It is a lot. We are coping.
However, not knowing how to come up for air in the present moment can keep you in that “fight or flight” response or adrenal exhaustion. This response fires up your nervous system, releasing too much cortisol, which then raises your anxiety, breaks down the immune system, and makes it more difficult to cope with everyday life’s stressors, to think clearly and access your answers (aka, your intuition).
So when the outer world feels chaotic, it’s even more important to create a calmer internal world.
Because as you probably know, calm doesn’t arrive on your doorstep. You have to create it. You have to pursue peace.
And when you cultivate calm in your life, your parasympathetic nervous system becomes the driver and therefore controls your body’s ability to ignite a relaxation effect (even if there’s chaos around you) and help you stay calm.
We cannot always control what happens to us but we can control how we react, what we do, and what we make things mean.
Life is never perfect. We’ll always have challenges. So with all the ups and down, it’s empowering to learn how to dial down the stress response and dial up the calm response to create a better quality of life.
How do we do this? We begin by firstly making a decision, becoming aware of our personal everyday stressors (environmental, social, mental, emotional, and so on) and learning how to take our stressed brains and bodies into a state of calm.
It is practical.
If you’re wrestling with calmness in your life and having more rough moments, curl up with these 5 best tips, decide which resonate with you, take action, and be compassionate with yourself.
1. Unplug more.
Start the day without scrolling or watching the news. At least 20mins of silence in the morning to invite calm into your day. Listening to a podcast or reading something spiritual or positive to feed your brain first thing in the morning is way more rewarding and less anxious. Challenge yourself to spend only one hour on social media daily. Or perhaps, consider using social media in a different way.
For example; go on Facebook to get inspiration from your favourite blogger and then exit. In addition, end your day without the news and turn off your wifi at night. We are not designed for so much wifi and blue screen. Remove your phone out of the bedroom and invest in a real alarm clock. You will sleep better. And when you sleep better, everything functions so much better. Brainstorm 5 ways you could upgrade your daily routine, and/or mindset so you can feel less anxious while unplugging more.
2. Cleanse your mindset.
Nothing is easier than negativity. Currently observe your thoughts and see if they’re hopping on the worry train. You don’t want to judge what’s coming up for you right now, you just want to simply be the observer. Ask yourself, “Okay, I’m in a worry program right now, who’s voice is it?” Once you’ve established where these thoughts have come from, then say to yourself “I lovingly send that program (or thoughts) back to you…this program does not belong to me.”
So instead of jumping straight into positive affirmations you are compassionately untangling your feelings and getting to the core of the issue. You then tell yourself, “Okay, I’m in a worry pattern right now, what do I need? What is this really triggering?” or “What do I need to say to myself at this moment?” It’s all about mothering yourself that is nurturing to you. And one way you can do this is by placing one hand over your belly and the other over your heart and saying, “You’re doing great, sweetheart, everything’s okay” or “ In this moment I am safe. And I can handle this moment.” Visualise your ability to handle all the things in a calm and confident way.
3. Prioritise “pleasure time.”
Daily checklists are a wonderful way to simplify our lives. However, usually, on those checklists there is little or no scheduled pleasure. Prioritise pleasure on your daily checklist for 5 days in a row and include something that would feel nourishing and calming to you. A quiet cup of tea. An inspiring podcast. Prayer. A pilates class. Two minutes of conscious breathing. A 15mins nap. A meditative walk. Journal writing. Whatever you feel you need to do.
Your “pleasure time” belongs on your daily checklist, too – it creates biochemical changes in the brain that are so beneficial – increasing serotonin, decreasing cortisol and stress hormones. As a society we tend to struggle with adding daily pleasure because we’ve been told that struggle and hard work is admirable and will get you where you want to go. Quite the contrary. When we don’t prioritise pleasure we do it by default – we reach for sugar, alcohol, and drugs. Pleasure which equates to joy and calm will move you in your desired direction.
4. Cleanse your energy.
Every one of us is an energetic being, we are so much more than the physical. Basic physics tells us that all matter is made up of energy. And, as human beings our bodies are also made up of energy. Therefore, we can pick up other people’s energy which can make us feel lethargic, sick, stiff, and simply not our true selves. And the opposite can happen too. Every person has their own signature energy. It’s like when you first meet someone and you feel that they either have “good vibes” or “bad vibes.” This is the vibrational energy that you’re feeling from that person.
We can also pick up stuff from being on social media. When we understand this we can then become responsible for our energy and create a daily energy practice. We have showers to clean our physical bodies and we need to energetically cleanse as well. And a simple way to do this is to begin by setting the intention to clear your energy. Set the intention and ask, “Dear God (universe, whatever you feel comfortable using) please clear any negative energy that’s in and around me now that doesn’t belong here and not for my highest good.” Then imagine a golden white light coming in from the top of your head and washing over you and through you coming out from your feet to be cleansed.
You can also do this when you take a shower and ask to be energetically clear. Then, ask to surround your energy with positive divine light putting yourself in this bubble of love keeping you energised and protected. You can do this simple exercise throughout the day whenever you feel your energy is off, or you’ve judged, or someone has judged you, or you’ve engaged in chaos.
Find a way to connect with other humans that are leading and supporting you in the direction you want to go. It’s so important to connect with humanity and not fear each other or be scared of one another. BUT, it’s just as important to surround yourself with the right people. Having said that, the world could use more selfless love. It’s being able to balance your own needs so that you can serve in love and not resentment. Sometimes, especially when we feel lonely or invisible, taking the attention off of ourselves and onto others, we naturally feel better – our hearts soften.
It’s scientifically proven that service gives you a brighter outlook on life. Many people are hurting, lonely, and in need. In the book Life As a Daymaker: How to Change the World by Simply Making Someone’s Day, author David Wagner, inspires readers through his philosophy “Simple acts of kindness can make someone’s day and possible even cause a worldwide ripple effect.” And that it’s more about giving not getting in life that paves our fulfilment.
If you want to find the positive in life, or you need your batteries recharged, think about the ways you could make one person’s day a little better than it was before – whether it’s a delicious meal for your grandparents, buying coffee for the next person in the line, from a smile and “good morning”, to just being there, listening, just because, whatever the degree of service you feel called to do, big or small – you do have impact. You have that power to make a difference in someone else’s life. Every challenge is an opportunity to help someone else with.
The opposite of living in stress is to disengage in chaos and let go of everything that is preventing you from living a more peaceful life. It’s not about ignoring our problems or pretending that they don’t exist, but more about putting life into perspective. To remind ourselves that one day we’re all going to die.
And this isn’t about being morbid either or increasing your anxiety levels, it’s highlighting the truth and the circle of life leading us to ask important questions. “Do I truly need this in my life? Will this matter on my deathbed? What would happen if I made a change? Is this necessary?”
I hope at least one of these tips resonated with you and I’m excited to hear which tips you will take on. And there are plenty more! Such as orienting in the here and now. What would you add on to this list?