3 Ways to Find Calm in the Chaos
In recent months, feelings of chaotic disarray seem to weasel their way into our everyday life and have become our new "normal." Even if stress seems to be everywhere we look, there is still the possibility of finding a sense of peace in all of it. Here are three very different ways that you can find contentment (even if only for a little while) amidst today's chaotic normal.
Stay The Course
(Keeping a routine and use it as an anchor.)
One of the biggest reasons that changes in world events cause us so much personal distress is because it disrupts the way we have structured our lives. When the things we usually consider normal are in flux, it changes our routines. Any habit or routine that you held before the change will likely alter, or disappear altogether. We stop running in the morning because we feel there is no longer enough time for our own needs. We stop eating right because it is way easier to hit the drive-thru. We reach for the whiskey or the cigarettes that we gave up because "I am too stressed to deal." or "what's the point."
It is in these massive times of transitions that we need to stick to our routines the most. Even the small things matter because it allows you to hold on to your old sense of normal during times of change. Even feeling a little normal can ground you and take some of the stress off your shoulders.
If you are having a hard time thinking of ways that you can reintroduce old habits and routines, check out my article on establishing your own routine from scratch.
Understanding Reaction vs. Response
(Keeping rational in the face of fear.)
These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. While they both have a place in day-to-day life, understanding the difference, and deciding to respond instead of reacting during stressful moments can make a tense moment much more bearable.
A fly lands on your face. What do you do?
Immediately swatting the fly is a reaction. In other words, it takes very little thought and is in the same category of actions as catching a glass that falls off the table; you might call it instinct. We don't only do this in the physical realm; we sometimes react emotionally as well. Since these actions happen almost instantly, we do not have time to think about what we are doing and thus, we have less control over the outcome. If we react to the things that go wrong in our life, we act in ways that are not well thought out. We have not trained ourselves to slow down and decide how to act.
If you are in the midst of experiencing an unpleasant emotion but you are able to decide how to act despite your emotions, you are responding instead of reacting. You are investigating that emotion and deciding what happens next. If you apply this slight switch to your emotions and actions during times of extreme stress, you will have better emotional control and will be able to act in a way that better serves you.
Ride the lightning
(Accept the chaos, and choose to adapt)
While this is a bit of an abstract concept, changing your mindset is not only possible but it can make all the difference.
If you are the captain of a ship in a turbulent storm, you need to do two things to make sure the waves don't topple your ship. First, you increase the power to your engine in order to keep control of the rudder. Next, you turn the ship towards the waves to keep the waves from overwhelming you.
In much the same way, it is possible to embrace the storm that is going on around you and live in it entirely. Turn towards the chaos and accept that the only way out is forward; You can't stay in the past. Accept that conditions are not what you had hoped for and move on.
I first experienced this switch in mind frame firsthand (and by accident) on an Outward Bound trip in 2008. We were backpacking in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range and we had just gotten over a 13,000ft pass. Most of us were dehydrated and our water was frozen solid. A couple of our teammates were also sick. In the middle of the night, a wind storm ripped through the camp destroying most of our tents. My friend Keeton and I were left holding onto our tent poles, hoping they would not snap. At first, we were just afraid and exhausted. At a certain point, our fear turned into exhilaration. He and I spent about 10 minutes whooping and screaming into the wind storm. We went from being miserable to feeling electrified and alive in a matter of seconds. This is riding the lightning.
If you have any suggestions for quick ways to de-gas or find calm in the chaos, drop a comment below, I would love to hear from you.
As always, Carpe Freaking Diem!
I am a life coach in the Boulder/Denver area and offer phone/zoom coaching sessions. I also offer free consultations, so if you want to learn more, click HERE to get in touch.
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