Life is stressful. Like, really bloody stressful. Even when you think you’ve got your shit together, things crop up, knock you sideways and leave you feeling like a computer with too many tabs open – frozen.
Sometimes this overwhelms us and we need professional support to come out the other side. Other times all we need to do is find calm in our day.
It sounds kind of easy and even patronising, “find calm in your day”, I know, and I’m not suggesting that 10 minutes of breathing will stop the bad stuff happening, but if you search for calm, cultivate it, nurture it… you may find you cope a little better.
Finding calm is pretty trendy right now. It’s nestled within the slow living movement. It’s tucked up underneath self-care practices. It’s front and centre in mental health self-management. And hey, guess what? There’s a reason for that.
It’s because we need it now more than ever.
We need a break from the constant phone notifications. We need a break from our online life. We need a break from work, from thinking, from everything.
Anxiety, stress and depression is rife in our nation. And there’s a whole lot of shit out there we can’t control. But we can control our day to day lives. We can find calm. We can breathe. We can cope.
10 ways to find calm in your day
Now the things I’m going to list here are not groundbreaking. You’ve probably read them before. But this time, instead of just reading them, get a pen and paper and follow the instructions after each point. Roll up your sleeves, get involved and be a little active here.
1. Listen to some music
- What music calms you down?
- Create a ‘calm’ playlist
(I’m playing this on repeat right now)
2. Read some beautiful words
- Which book will you read?
- Get a tea/coffee while you read, sit by soft light, burn a candle
(I just finished The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur and loooooved it)
3. Move your body with awareness
- How can you do this – simple stretches? Yoga? Tai-chi? Pilates? The gym? Running?
- Do it when you know you won’t be interrupted and make it a mindfulness practice
(Here are some tips for setting up a home yoga practice.)
4. Breathe with awareness
- Do you need guidance from an app or video?
- Set times to do this throughout the day or use when you feel overwhelmed
(Here’s why breathing is so important and how it calms you down, physically.)
5. Try meditation
- If you’re new to meditation, use a guided meditation first
- Remember you can start with just a few minutes a day
6. Go for a walk
- Do you want to go alone or with someone?
- Take in the scenery, really notice what you see
(The Japanese consider a walk in the forest therapy, it’s called ‘shinrin-yoku’ or, forest bathing. Here’s some cool forests to bathe in the UK.)
7. Make a tea/coffee
- Take your time, make it a ritual
- Make someone else a drink too, spread that good juju
(Dan, myself and his family often go out for coffee, it’s a small ritual, we can talk, catch up, enjoy good coffee and get out of the house.)
8. Have a shower or bath
- Do you have any nice smelling oils or shower lotions?
- Treat yourself to a facemask, moisturise your body – give it some attention
(During the working week yoga followed by a shower or bath is a key part of my wind-down routine, it tells my brain I’m ready to rest.)
9. Have dinner by candlelight
- Make dinner an occasion again, eat at the table and turn off the TV
- Do you have people to eat with? If not, play some soothing music
(In the Little Book of Lykke it explains the importance of eating with people to strengthen connection and community.)
10. Turn OFF your phone notifications
- Tell people you’re taking a social media/digital detox, give your mind a rest
- Try a set amount of time away from your phone – how do you feel?
(In this speech Simon Sinek talks about phone/device addiction, very interesting!)
In the new year I want to let go of a few things, one of those things is stress. I know it isn’t completely avoidable, but if I’m able to find pockets of calm in every day I think it’ll be OK.
My next monthly musings newsletter goes out on 31st December, so I’ll be talking about what I want to make space for next year, why I think the whole ‘new year, new you’ concept is bullshit and what new beginnings can stir inside of us.
If that sounds like something you want to read, make sure you subscribe before the 31st.
I would love to know if there’s anything I should add to this list – what helps you find calm?
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