Lately, it seems way too often I wake up and see on the news that something horrifically tragic has happened in this world. Has it always been this way? Is this the new norm? Are people right about it just being publicized more due to social media? Or could it be that the human race is extremely stressed, depressed, rushed, overworked, and overstimulated by the world around them?
I am typically an upbeat and cheerful person, but I find it difficult to stay positive when it feels like the world around me is going crazy. Add in the holiday stresses and a near-future move several states away, and I’m easily caught up in toxic stew. As a mom and wife, I find it crucial to have compassion and keep moving toward a greater good. I’m a self-proclaimed empath, and I am super sensitive toward feelings people have around me. This can be an energy drain and results in finding myself unmotivated and useless. When you have two little ones depending on you daily, this is an inadmissible way of living.
I’ve come up with some ways that help me cope and cultivate calm in a time that the world is seemingly spinning out of control. I hope some of these methods can help you when you may be feeling a little stressed out.
Meditate. Wake up a few minutes early, sit in a quiet, calm space and set a timer for five minutes to start. Sit tall (posture is important), chin slightly down, with relaxed shoulders and jaw. Inhale and exhale through your nostrils, filling up your diaphragm. Notice and concentrate on your breath as best you can. Your “monkey mind” (aka ego) will wander — notice this, then go back to focusing on your breath. Yogis believe the less you breathe, the longer you live. When we are stressed, we take short shallow breaths, which is not good for our health. By taking long, full, rhythmic deep breaths, you are making yourself happier, more productive, and energetic. Practice this daily, and slowly add more time. You will feel much more focused and ready to tackle whatever the day brings you.
Find a creative outlet. Work on an art project, knit, or craft. If gardening is your thing, go for it. Start journaling. Do something with your hands that doesn’t involve electronics. Try something new. Take a class. It is proven that fueling creativity through art is therapeutic and can improve your overall mental health.
Practice minimalism. Get rid of the extra clutter. Slowly start losing the excess. This can be in the home, office, socially, or even with your own eating habits. Begin by taking away things that aren’t necessary. Ask yourself, “How does this add value to my life?” By editing your life, you make things more efficient, hassle-free, and anxiety-free as possible. Keep it simple.
Get moving. Get outside and enjoy nature. Go for a walk at the beach, or head out to your favorite trail. Take a new yoga class, train for a race, have a dance party in your living room. Whatever you choose to do, physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. It’s a meditation in motion. Exercise will help to minimize stress and bring some calm into your life and improve your mood. So get out there and move that body!
Treat yourself. Indulge in essential oils, maybe even some bubble bath and take a long therapeutic soak in the tub. Ask your spouse or enlist a friend to take the kids outside to play or get some ice cream so you can have some quiet time. Pop open a bottle of champagne or make some hot tea, relax, and celebrate nothing else but YOU. Know you’re worth it!
Unplug. Just turn it off — the news, the TV, your phones. I know this is easier said than done, but reducing your screen time reduces all of the noise and chatter and dramatic hubbub of the daily crazy. Try to hone in on your pre-cell phone self and remember the times when it was okay not to respond immediately. Take some of those apps off your phone, and turn off the alerts and notifications. It can all wait. I promise.
Spread kindness. Selfless good deeds and small acts of kindness will help to create an environment that makes those around you feel good. Bring a treat to an elderly neighbor, pay for someone’s coffee, donate to a charity, volunteer your time somewhere or handwrite a note to someone who could use some support. Do what nurtures you, and in turn someone else, because ultimately these small acts of kindness are what will help make a difference in this world.
In a world with so many ups and downs, having a toolbox of options is a powerful way to soothe your stress and take compassionate care of yourself. By taking care of yourself first, you can care for others around you. Children will observe and learn these techniques from you, and it will begin a cyclic habit of paying it forward, which in turn, will be one step closer to a more calm and beautiful way of living.