Life throws us chaos on a regular basis. In this day and age, it’s important to maintain a more restful, relaxed state of mind. In fact, research suggests it will bring us greater attention, energy, and creativity to tackle stress. That’s why I’d like to share with you 7 simple ways to cultivate calm in your own life.
According to researchers from Stanford, your stress response is designed to essentially save your life. It mobilizes your attention, muscles, and immune system to get you quickly out of danger. That stress response is also supposed to be short-lived because it wears down your body, your health, and your energy. Stress also impacts things like your emotional intelligence and your decision making. When you’re tightly wound up, you are more likely to react to situations than to respond with reason.
I’m willing to put good money down that you easily know how to become stressed. Most of us are really good at activating our adrenal system and getting wound up. The question becomes, then,…how do we wind down?
Visualize a Soothing Space
Close your eyes and visualize a place where you feel the safest, peaceful, and relaxed. Now, try experiencing this place with your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? Smell? Taste? I close my eyes and visualize the beach. When I find that moment of calm I can hear the seagulls and practically smell the saltwater. Find a happy and soothing place for yourself.
Inhale & Exhale
Deep breathing is great – magical even – when dealing with stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Through your breath, you can activate your parasympathetic nervous response and change how you feel. There are lots of different breathing techniques to recommend and I enjoy using the one that requires a good strong sigh. That’s because sighing is an easy way to release your breath and reconnect with yourself at the moment. Try it…and relax.
Write a Love List
Self-help writer David Dillard-Wright, author of the book A Mindful Morning: Start Each Day with a Clear Mind and Open Heart, suggests creating a list of things, activities, and places that you love. I can think of family vacations, reading a good book by a shade tree, and watching my favorite comedy. What’s yours? Once identified, Dillard-Wright says we should then think of ways you can express your love or increase your contact with your loves. Return to this list when you need a reminder of the beauty in your life.
Maintaining positive thoughts, although difficult at times, can ultimately be helpful for your anxiety. Spending only a few minutes per day jotting down thoughts of gratitude towards a certain situation, individual, or even a natural occurrence can be very helpful. If you’re curious how to create a gratitude journal, here’s a great way to start.
Yoga philosophy teaches that the more neutral we can remain in our lives, the less we will suffer. When we are swirling in the craziness of life, we tend to embody the opposite of neutral. To be neutral does not suggest that we shouldn’t care. Instead, neutral means not being over- or underwhelmed with emotion. To do this, purposefully relax tense areas of your body, and repeat “I am neutral” – or simply say the word “neutral” to yourself over and over until you sense yourself calming down. It works amazingly well.
Find a Relaxing Place
Author Elaine N. Arron, the writer of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook, suggests creating a beautiful and simple place for private downtime. Here you might meditate, pray, or simply be. Also, Arron suggests including objects that appeal to your senses, such as a fountain with rocks or savoring a cup of warm tea.
Connect with Others
Our greatest human need, after food and shelter, is to connect with other people in a positive way. However, the lockdowns during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic added to a sense of disconnectedness and social isolation in all of our lives. As we continue practicing ways to cultivate calm, let’s turn our attention outward to feel more connected, as well. Reach out to other people with a phone call or through video chat. When we face adversity, research suggests that our relationships and community have an important role to play in our resilience.
Did these tips work for you? Was there something that I missed that helps you cultivate calm in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts at email@example.com. And please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below to receive more great posts straight to your inbox each Friday.