How chaotic life seems sometimes! There are so many things out of our control that it's no wonder we experience stress. Life becomes a battleground, and we're the unwilling warrior just doing our best to get through the day.
What if it didn't have to be that way? In fact, what if you could still achieve a life of Ease and Grace through the creation of a calm state of mind?
It really is possible.
The problem with being calm is that we tend to treat it like a mythological creature. We realize deep down just how much of an ideal state of being it is to experience 'calm' but think only a chosen few will see such a thing in their lifetime. Calm is a matter of timing, isn't it? Or perhaps luck?
Oddly enough, it isn't. By having a deliberate plan, you can create calm in your own life by developing a series of simple habits. Intrigued? Let's explore a few of those here:
Start the Day Right
Your first and best habit should be the creation of a morning ritual. What this looks like should be entirely up to you. Some ideas? Starting the day by eating breakfast is essential as your body needs fuel to begin the day. Meditation, exercise, a little journaling are all things that give a calming and reflective start to the day. Beginning calm goes a long way toward staying calm as the day progresses.
What's your Go-To?
Even when you start the day right, stress is going to creep in. Your next habit should focus on what your typical response is to stress. Sometimes our answers aren't the best, such as stress-eating, pity parties, or even self-harm. You want to develop a good response to stress that you can use as your new go-to. Deep breathing, taking a walk, a few minutes of meditation, and creating a To-Do list to guide you in figuring out the next best steps are all things to consider trying. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all for this, so if something doesn't feel like 'you' or doesn't work, try something else. Make a habit of whichever one restores your calm best.
It's so easy to take the small things personally, creating additional stress where none was needed. To combat this, develop the habit of a reality check. Ask yourself if what you're feeling is truly the case. Might there be another explanation that has nothing or very little to do with you? Your best option? Make a habit of avoidance when it comes to responding to this kind of emotional response.
How we react to things is entirely up to us. This means that when things go wrong, we need to start building the habit of looking for what went right. The simplest way to do this is to regard the situation from the point of view of gratitude. Ask yourself what you can be thankful for right now. Express your thanks out loud if you can. You can be grateful for situations such as 'I'm grateful for my good health' or for something someone else did. When possible, thank the people in your life for the positive contributions they've made for your day. This gratitude will take the stress out of even a bad day and guide you back toward calm.
Be More Zen
Speaking of reactions to stress, what have you been doing lately to help mitigate stress's physical effects? Stress has a way of knotting up muscles, making your thoughts race, and leaving you feeling 'off,' even when you're doing what you can to keep things calm. This is why things like a habit of meditation, tai chi, yoga, or other calming activities really can put you back into a state of calm.
Focus on The Next Best Thing
Single-tasking is something that has been gaining much popularity. Sadly, we've been raised to think the more we do at once, the more we're accomplishing. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Trying to do everything at once will reduce productivity and has the side-effect of raising stress levels. Finding calm comes from putting your concentration on what's in front of you. That's it.
Not everyone can find calm in the chaos. While some people seem to do well in bright and engaging surroundings, more often than not, too much outside stimulus creates mild to moderate levels of stress and anxiety. If you're one of those people, turning off the music, dimming the lights, and creating a physically calmer and more soothing atmosphere might benefit you. Try making a habit of spending time in a quiet space, such as walking outside in nature or just relaxing in a darkened room for ten to twenty minutes every day.
Rushing invites stress on many levels. Consider this, the very act of rushing will trigger a surge of adrenaline, raising cortisol levels in your body. This leads to increased heart rate among a host of other physical reactions, none of which are right for you. Why are you trying to trigger a 'fight or flight' response simply because you're trying to do things quickly? The result might mean something accomplished quickly, but the adrenaline crash later only sets you back further in the long run. Here is where setting up a habit of slowing down comes into play. By allowing yourself more time to get things done, you can relax and stay calm, all while accomplishing what you need to in a timelier manner and without the severe drop later.
We love our screens. Phones, laptops, tablets, you name it, keep us hooked in and engaged with the world every minute of the day. The cost of this is hyper-vigilance of what is going on in the world is increased stress levels. To stay calm, consider a diet when it comes to electronic use. Make a habit of setting aside a part of every day where you turn off anything with a screen and do something else instead, such as reading a book, playing with the dog, or doing something else which doesn't involve electronics to enjoy.
To find your calm, you need to become acutely aware of just what you need, both mentally and physically. There comes a time when you need to act protectively in this regard, not allowing others to become too taxing or even stress-inducing. By setting limits on contact with stressful people or standing up for your own needs, you're making yourself a much-needed priority. This is not only okay but necessary when it comes to taking care of yourself properly. Reread those words if you need to. It is okay to take care of yourself. And necessary. Engage in the habit of saying 'no' for this one.
It's not just Boy Scouts who realize things are going to go wrong. You can avoid a lot of stress by knowing what to do should a disaster happen later. This doesn't mean you should obsess over worst-case scenarios. Instead, build a habit of being prepared by having a plan to deal with the unexpected. For example, you might take the time to learn basic first aid. You probably won't need the skills often, but if someone injures themselves, knowing what to do to treat the injury enables you to keep calm as you deal with the new situation.
This idea builds somewhat on the concept of shaping boundaries. We all have a unique set of needs to be at our best. You're going to function best on a certain amount of sleep. You likely feel your healthiest if you eat a specific way and get a regular amount of exercise. You require some alone time, but you might also need some time spent socializing.
Knowing yourself is how you will create habits to maintain the very best version of yourself. You'll want to make sure you eat right and get out occasionally. You want to sleep or spend time with certain people who help to center you and make you feel your best just by being around them. Whatever this list entails, it will be unique only to you, so taking time now to figure out these things is critically important. Once you have this list, build habits to make sure these needs are met. Also, remember to re-assess these needs now and then. As time goes by, factors might change. You'll want to make sure the habits you've developed in this regard still serve your needs to keep you calm, cool and collected.
Remember, building habits take time and repetition. You'll need to spend anywhere from two weeks to two months actively pursuing your goal before the action becomes automatic. This process might also feel a little stiff and strange at first as you settle into the new habits.
On the other hand, if you hang in there, you'll find life-changing considerably once these habits become automatic. You will feel calmer. You'll also start falling into a life of ease and grace, where stress might still be a passing visitor but is a visitor who never stays long and has a little lasting impact when it's been around.
When you reach this point, celebrate! You will have attained a calm and relaxed state of mind.