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Finding Calm in Chaos, Five Easy Steps to Keeping Your Sanity
Find Your Calm in the Midst of Chaos
Where is the Calm?
We seem to be living in turbulent, uncertain times. People all around the world are fearful and panicking.
How do you maintain your own sense of calm, peace and inner quiet when things around you fall apart?
This article offers five easy and practical suggestions for helping you maintain calm during chaotic times.
Five Easy Steps to Calm the Mind
1. Slow Down and Breathe
2. Get Outside
3. Control What You Can and Let Go of the Rest
4. Maintain a schedule
Slow Everything Down and Breathe
When you panic or get fearful, your breath becomes shallow and your actions get quick. You don't usually take any time to check in with your breathe. You rush from thing to thing, with short, shallow breaths. Before you know it, you and your family are all filled with anxiety, stress and fear.
Stop. The first thing to do to manage the chaos in your life is to stop and take a long, slow, deliberate breath. Close your eyes if you can. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold it for a couple of seconds. Let your exhale be long, slow and complete. It helps if you can hum or make a vibration in the back of your throat as you exhale.
The vibration of the back of the throat, through humming or other sounds stimulates the vagus nerve. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and helps stop the "fight, flight or flee" hormones from flooding your body. Vagus nerve stimulation releases relaxation hormones that help calm your central nervous system.
After you take that deep breath, consciously slow down. Talk slowly. Walk slowly. Everything in this moment is fine. You have nothing to fear. Even if you are standing in the middle of the big box store and the last package of toilet paper just disappeared before your eyes, you have nothing to fear. Slow down.
Walking and moving slowly helps to calm the central nervous system. There is nothing to fear, and no need to run around with cortisol and adrenaline coursing through your veins. This will only increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
Consciously choosing to move slowly helps to reactivate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Once you breathe deeply and slow down, your anxiety level decreases automatically.
Take a Walk in Nature
Spending time in nature benefits your health and well being in many different ways. Being in nature reduces stress, anxiety, fear and anger. Going outside has also been shown to decrease your blood pressure and heart rate.
When you watch a constant stream of news, or follow doom and gloom stories on social media, your body reacts by sending cortisol and adrenaline into the blood stream. These fearful thoughts and ideas throw your body into full fight or flight mode. This causes a lot of harm physically and psychologically.
To counter the effects of constant stress, turn off the television. Put down your phone. Go outside and take a walk. If possible, walk in a forest, a park, the mountains or the beach. Spend some time communing with the earth, the sun, the clouds and the sky.
It doesn't matter what the weather is. Dress accordingly and spend some time moving, breathing and connecting to something much greater than yourself.
One of the best benefits of spending time in nature is that you are reminded of the impermanence of life and the cycles that everything goes through. Birth. Growth. Death. It happens every season, throughout the years. This precise moment is all that you have. Embrace it. Breathe deeply. Remember that this too shall pass.
What Can You Control?
Control What You Can, Let Go of the Rest
You only control yourself. Everything else, everyone else is outside your control. Start with that basic fact.
Sit with it. Breathe through it. Accept it. You control you. That is all.
Now. With that fact sitting firmly in your conscious mind, let go of all that other stuff. What can you control right now?
Your attitude. You choose whether to freak out or stay calm. You choose whether to be happy or pissed off. You choose whether to exude peace or fear. Decide how you want to be in this moment and be that. Calm. Cool. Collected. Now breathe.
You effort. You choose how much energy to invest in different endeavors. Maybe grocery shopping. Make a list and take your calm self to the grocery for what you need in this moment. Maybe exercise. Put yourself through whatever workout routine gets your blood pumping and your endorphins flowing. Movement always improves moods. Whatever you choose to do, give it your best effort. Pay attention to what you are doing and show up fully. Mindfully.
Your Focus. Where attention goes, energy flows. What you focus on, you create. Think on the good, the positive, the hopeful, the beautiful. If you dwell in fear, you will be scared and panic. Focus on healing, growth, opportunity. Things may be difficult now. Things may be chaotic now. But everything always changes. Focus on and be the good you want to see in the world. Focus on and be the calm, the peace, the beautiful.
Change begins with you.
Your attitude, your effort and your focus are things you can control. Try not to dwell on all the stuff that you don't control.
Create a Schedule
Maintain a Schedule of Daily Habits
When life becomes chaotic, your daily routines may go out the window. Try not to let that happen. Even if your schedule suddenly becomes disrupted, create a new series of healthy habits to help manage the chaos and bring some order into your day.
Having a schedule brings peace and sanity into a chaotic world. It makes your day manageable and productive. Rather than binge watch the latest disaster unfolding live, you can get up and do the things that make you feel better.
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Set aside some time to exercise, as well as some time outside. Make meal time a priority, without the television. Find time to do something fun.
It's easy to follow a schedule if you write down what you want to do, and what you'd like to accomplish. By creating a written list, you'll find that you can stay off of the internet and TV and spend time doing things you love.
For more information on the importance of scheduling, read this article, 18 Reasons Why a Daily Routine is so Important
Inner Peace Begins With You
There is Magic in That Smile
Smiling makes you healthier, mentally and physically. And it helps the people around you feel better too.
During times of high stress, chaos and uncertainty, a genuine heartfelt smile soothes frightened and wounded souls.
According to current research, smiling not only lifts your spirits, but it helps others feel safe and happy.
Smiling activates neural transmitters that signal the brain to release dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. These "feel good" hormones cause your blood pressure to drop, your heart rate to slow, relax your body and even offer pain relief. All of that, from a simple smile.
Beyond those physical changes in your blood chemistry, smiling is contagious. When people see you smile, their own smile emerges from an unconscious, automatic response area of they brain. Other people smile, without even knowing it or meaning to. This spreads the feel good hormones to others.
A Little Smile for Your Day
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Deborah Demander