These are crazy times we are living in. Everything seems topsy-turvy and fear is in the air. The future hasn’t seemed this uncertain in a long time (at least not in my memory). Everywhere we turn, we hear bad news. Whether it’s affecting us directly or our next door neighbor, it doesn’t seem like we can get away from the stress.
No matter the craziness, however, it IS possible to regain and maintain peace of mind. You can stay cool, calm and collected no matter what seems to be happening around you. Here are some ways to do just that:
- Turn off (or at least limit) TV news. In my opinion, taking just this one step will do more for your peace of mind than all the others combined. While it’s nice to have access to news around the clock, the advent of 24/7 news channels has undermined the peace of mind of this country, and indeed, the world. Unfortunately for us, good news is NOT news and therefore we are constantly faced with images and stories of the bad things that are going on out there, over and over in order to fill up the 24 hour time slots. Turn it off or identify a maximum time you allow yourself to watch the news. In the good old days, we received our news in 2 30-minute time frames, at 6pm and 11pm. Somehow we managed to stay well-informed and in control. Personally, this is my current goal for news consumption.
- Breathe deeply and keep breathing. Another way to become and maintain calm is to keep breathing. Long, slow, deep breaths will help you get into ‘the zone’, that place where you get in touch with your wisdom, where you feel at One with God and the Universe. It’s the place where you know that ‘this too shall pass’ and what you need to do to not become overwhelmed.
- Focus on what’s good in your life (gratitude). A surprising way to feel calm and peaceful is to feel gratitude for all the good things in our life. When we focus on and appreciate the blessings already in our life, it’s hard not to smile. When we smile, it’s hard to lose our peace of mind. In addition, the more gratitude we feel, the more things we get in our life to feel grateful about.
- Focus on what you have control over. A great way to lose peace of mind is to try to control the things we have no control over. It’s a sure way to madness. While I do believe that we create our own reality (and yes, that means that collectively we are creating these economic times), the one thing we can impact and influence today is that over which we have direct control. No matter how big or small, taking back control helps us connect to our power and it’s very hard to not feel peace of mind when we feel in control.
- Perfect time to declutter and use that nervous energy. The worst thing we can do when we feel stressed and over-whelmed is to sit around and focus on the fear. We all know where that negative thinking takes us, and trust me, it is at the opposite extreme of ‘peace of mind’. When you find yourself getting hyper, stand up and start putting that energy to use. Clean out the refrigerator, organize your closet, tackle the mess in the garage, do the laundry. Do whatever needs to be done and you will regain that feeling of control and peace that is critical to riding though the storm.
- Get into nature, regardless of weather. Drink deeply of the fresh air and notice the immenseness. No matter how I’m feeling, a drive or walk in the country renews, regenerates and refreshes me. I feel calm and peaceful and look forward to returning home again to ‘get working’. For me, it’s reconnecting to my spiritual self just by really paying attention to the beautiful scenery around me. The best thing about this strategy is that it’s right outside your door and it’s free!
- Help others stay calm. Another unusual suggestion for maintaining your own serenity is to help others maintain theirs. When we choose to be a role model and go all out to assist others in maintaining calm, it is necessary that our serenity be sincere. We can all see through a fake emotion (although we might only feel uncomfortable without being able to explain why), so in order to alleviate the stress of those around you, you must be calm yourself. That’s a great gift to both you AND them.
- Keep working, that is, don’t give up. No matter what your job is, even if right now it’s looking for work, don’t give up. There’s a positive energy cycle that goes something like this: the calmer you are, the more upbeat you are and the better chance you have of success. The more upbeat and persistent you are, the calmer you get. It’s magical and works well!
- Pray, meditate, listen to favorite (calming) music. With the TV turned off, you’ll have plenty of time to get into other activities so it makes sense to pick activities that promote calmness. This includes praying, meditating, listening to music, walking, reading, certain exercises (yoga, for example), anything that helps you refocus and luxuriate in tranquility and peace of mind.
- And did I mention deep breathing? I can not over-emphasize the power of deep breathing. When you focus on the process of breathing, slowing each breath and exhaling loudly, the chatter in your mind gets turned off. Always do at least 3 breaths, each one slower and deeper than the last. This is something you can do wherever you are, no matter the situation. Most people will be unaware that you are entering the no-stress zone where peace of mind is the order of the day. If necessary, set the alarm on your watch to go off every 30 or 60 minutes to help keep you calm and centered.
Try practicing these various steps on a regular basis and see if it doesn’t help you feel back in control and able to handle whatever life throws your way.