Today I am home from work to get our new (tank-less) water heater installed and to pay the man who is coming to power wash our house (which is white…in the south… with all this pollen… so now technically it’s a weird shade of yellow/greenish I guess, but not for long!). As I await the arrival of company, I started drafting a list of “things I could do today”. Slowly, my list got longer, single lines were being used for multiple “to-do” items, I could feel my breathing get shallower, my stomach starting to tighten, and my calmness and stillness start to seep away and be replaced by a sense of anxiety. Oh my God, can I get all this done?!? While this was happening, a small voice in the back of my mind said, “pause”… and I listened. I stopped and thought to myself, my time and energy are precious, finite, and valuable and I get to choose how I use them. Pushing the list aside, I pulled out my journal and started to write down what I was thinking and feeling, trying to capture the sense of calm, anxiety, and awareness happening simultaneously. Already, my calm is coming back and my stomach is starting to relax.
Currently, I am reading The Gifts of Imperfection Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. In the present chapter, she talks about being anxiety-aware and owning that anxiety can be a reality, but it doesn’t have to be a lifestyle, which leads me to ask, how do you find your way back to calm?This morning was a breakthrough for me in that, rather than getting wrapped up in the productivity whirlwind, I paused and gave myself some space to think about the emotional and physical things I was feeling. This allowed me to find my way back to calm.
One lesson I have learned is that to find calm, we have to value calm. For me, valuing calm looks like this…
- Get some perspective. Does this really matter? As Brene Brown states, “Do we even have all the information we need to make a decision or form a response?” Someone outside my head and outside my immediate context can often provide valuable and much needed perspective.
- Breathe first. When someone comes to me with something difficult, or says something challenging, my first reaction needs to be to take a deep breath. After this, get the facts, process, and then form a response or make a decision.
- Don’t waste time reacting to what I can’t control. The reality of life is that some people are blessings and some people just act shitty. I can’t control people, but I can control who I build lasting relationships with, which opinions and voices I value, and who I trust.
- Practice calm before the storm hits. For me, this looks like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and practicing awareness through reflection and dialogue with others who are on their own whole-hearted journey. It involves not being a chronic multitasker, focusing on one thing at a time, and creating quiet space for myself (specifically, on the way home from work). Having a collection of images, sounds, songs, and quotes centered on the theme of calm may also be something I try in the near future, starting with this picture…
How do you cultivate and find calm before, during, and after difficult situations? Do you have a mantra you use to remain calm? Are their quotes, songs, sounds, or images that bring you back to a sense of calm?