Many of us often find ourselves in states where our minds keep racing, we can’t relax, our bodies are tense and tend to be on high alert and we find ourselves on edge more than we like. We wake up frequently over the night or have a hard time winding down and falling asleep.
There will always be stressors and pressures, but we have to remember that how we react and the impact is up to us. As Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.”
We do not have to resign ourselves to feeling on edge or letting outside forces, people or circumstances get to us. This does not have to be an accepted (or even expected) way of living. It is not a badge of honor and it does not have to be chalked up to “this is life.” We all have the ability to cultivate calm by practicing healthy techniques.
We have all experienced those moments of feeling that everything is right and good in our worlds, where we feel at peace and content and where the constant noise in our heads is silenced. They can be quite fleeting, but they do give us a glimpse into being calm. But through a conscious choice we can learn to emphasize those feelings in our lives. We can teach ourselves ways to achieve peace of mind from the inside, and within ourselves. Here are a few “best practices” that you can incorporate into life.
Turn down the stimuli
There is a lot of noise in our world—constant messages and alerts, 24/7 feeds of information, traffic, etc. But you can make a conscious decision to dial it down. Step away from the TV or computer, get off of social media and carve out time to remove yourself from crowds and noisy places.
Getting fresh air and some sunshine does a body and mind good. Take a break even if for five or ten minutes to get outside. Take deep breaths and simply feel the sun and air.
Turn up the Beauty
There are things that are beautiful to us—flowers, a picture, music, etc. Incorporate into your environment some things that capture your senses and lower your blood pressure
Do Something You Enjoy
Finding and doing something you enjoy transitions your thoughts away from the stress. The “something” does not have to be something big or expensive. In fact, the simple things can make the biggest impact. For some it’s baking or cooking, for some reading, for some taking a hike or walk and for others just sitting in a favorite lounge chair in the sun.
Create a Mantra
When you start to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, worried—when you feel that your calm is fading—the combination of deep breathing and repeating a calming mantra can help you reset and bring you back to center.
Smile and Say Thank You
You don’t have to perpetuate (or project) your feeling of anxiety, stress or tiredness. As you move through your day and encounter others be polite, greet people with a smile and say thank you.
Visualize a “Safe Place”
Sometimes it may be difficult to break away, practice your mantra or do a favorite activity. When you are in this position, steal away to the bathroom, your car or an empty room and for a few minutes visualize a place that you love, where you feel safe, peaceful and relaxed. Give yourself permission to stay there for a few minutes to bring calm back.
I’m sure there are other suggestions that may resonate with you. The key is to build your toolbox for cultivating calm and put the tools into practice.