Being calm can sometimes be really hard, especially when life and all its stress seem to be conspiring against you.
Here are some super easy tips on how to build calm into your life and take some of the stress out of every day events.
1. Immerse your self in a calming or peaceful activity. How does this work? Totally immersing yourself in one activity like meditating, yoga, going to the gym or even just swimming in the ocean at least four days a week helps you get into something deeply quickly. If you enjoy it, it will rapidly become a habit and part of your life. Try to choose something peaceful that you will enjoy and that will help you build that inner sense of calm.
2. Think of things that are calming. Have some favourite images that are calming.. for me they are pictures of the ocean or water, for you it maybe fields of daisies or big blue skies. Whatever it is, have a stack of them on your computer and spend ten minutes each day just looking through them. Pretty soon you will be able to conjure up these images in your minds eye when things start to get stressful.
3. Take naps or mini sleeps. Sleep is fantastic for the body and essential for the well being of the mind. When you feel tired, and you are able to (yes I hear all you new mums say “yer right!”) try to get some down time to let your body sleep. Also be protective of your sleep. A few late nights won’t hurt, but try to be regular with you sleep patterns so your body gets enough downtime to repair and recuperate.
4. Try not to blame yourself for things that outside of your control. Some of us take responsibility for things that really aren’t ours.
5. Let go of toxic or unhelpful relationships. Yes, always good to try to fix things, but really, if the other person is just making us sad, upset and the relationship is basically unhealthy
6. Listen to Music That Calms. Got some favourite calming music? You have to pick the pieces. What did you love as a child? My husband sings James Taylor’s You Can Close Your Eyes to my kids and they protest if he sings anything else. I like Janet Baker’s low mezzo version of Shubert’s Litanei, (took voice lessons long ago) Chopin Nocturnes, and many songs from the sixties and seventies. You might consider instrumental if lyrics rev you up too much. Save that for another time.
7. Get Into the Right Setting. Beach? Woods? A café? Know your deceleration setting. If you can’t get there now, plan for later. Dreaming, drawing, collaging and writing about this place keeps it real and reachable. Take a walk in a park. Hide in a quiet corner for Ten Mindful Minutes (Goldie Hawn wrote a great book by this name.)
8. Deal with Clutter. I’m not kidding. Expulsion of extraneous and bothersome stuff is freeing. A clean space, if not next to godliness, is next to calm-liness. Then again, sometimes disorder delights. Compare disarray to clear spaces and see how you feel, but get rid of bits that make you wince.
9. I once heard someone say that Haste is a Form of Violence. I would add Toward the Self. Fast pace may be a must, but think of how you feel when someone bangs on your door when you are trying get your contact lenses in. Your heart races, your hands shake, and your mind turns mean. Living every moment with tension can take a toll over time. It can make you ill. Honor Slow is Beautiful, as I once saw on a button, when you can. Maybe stay in pajamas on Sunday. Someone told me the whole family did this spontaneously one day and it was better than the last vacation.
10. Think; There is Time. Poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “Indeed, there will be time…” Ok, you have figured out what you want to do and who you are. Now instead of having 80 years ahead, it is looking more like 30. You panic, thinking you do not have enough time. You do.
There is always time to inhabit a state of mind. Just calmly, step by step, little by little, work daily at what you love, even if it is just for ten minutes. Do not let go of the kite string to your passions because you think you do not have time. It is the consistent connection to something transcendent that keeps you afloat and calm. (It is different if one truly has not much time to live. That is a heartbreaking matter)
11. Shake it up to Get Peaceful. If you are an intense, type A person, then go for it with gusto. Wearing yourself out and knowing you did your all is one path to a peaceful state. Also, get comfortable with loose ends. All will get done because you are a reliable person.
12. Is there something you are meant to do that you are not doing? Community service, a class, a relationship, an art form? Live in Your Natural-Inclination Zone to avoid chronic agitation. Do not overinvest in draining interactions whether they involve narcissistic colleagues, the wrong job or neighbors who threaten to sue. Best to put your energies toward people and projects that speak to your heart and calm your mind.
13. Lower the bar. Go For a Five Out of Ten. My son used to get into trouble for always trying to be the first in line so we told him to think of the middle or the back as an excellent place to be. Sometimes the low-key place is just right if you are trying to learn. My daughter told me she wanted to join a swim team that lost matches so there would be no pressure and she could swim for fun.
True prowess is a source of satisfaction but got-to-get-to-the-top stress is not for everyone and in fact may stop a talented person from finding her or his way.
14. Use Your Hands. Cook, bake, clean, repair, craft, play, paint, weld, scrapbook. Have you seen the book Craft to Heal by Nancy Monson? My husband Alton and I were honored to speak for Vogue Knitting Live and The Craft Yarn Council .