“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself”- Ralph Waldo Emerson…
The pace of life is only increasing as we get older, get increasing responsibilities and adopt new technologies. We can no longer escape the constant and suffocating presence of others. With the majority of the western world having access to communication tools, it feels like there is always some sort of pressure looming over us that we cannot escape from. We have almost forgotten what peace is. What silence is. What life is like to be alone… even for an hour.
The constant state of urgency to meet work targets, to balance time spent with friends, to support your family, to get fit and to try and maintain a hobby (amongst other things) is chaotic. But we need to find our calm. With mental health issues on the rise, it’s vital that we know ways to take a step back and pause; putting ourselves in front of our commitments to others.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no preacher and certainly no life coach, but i’d like to think I’ve suffered with my own mental health long enough to have figured out a few things. For starters: we are in control of finding our own peace in the chaos.
Here are some things that work for me:
1. Meditate– I’m not suggesting you turn into a monk or a 20 year old girl that feels ‘cultured’ after doing a year abroad, but sitting with your thoughts and reflecting on your emotions is proven to beneficial. You need time to process your experiences and feelings and time is often the first thing we lose during the chaos of everyday life. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, on the bus, during a bath or before you go to bed, make time for yourself!
2. Stretch– It may be yoga or it may be some simple stretches, but regardless it releases tension that has built up all around your body. Slow and consistent breathing helps lower your blood pressure and the movements help your body detox and relax (great for if you struggle with sleep!).
3. Face your issues head on– We were brought up believing it was best to avoid confrontation, but I find internalizing my emotions is one of the biggest causes of stress and internal chaos. Being open and honest with yourself, and others, helps take unnecessary pressure of your shoulders.
4. Don’t rush – I know that I say that as if it’s an easy thing to achieve, but for tasks that you are urgently trying to accomplish, recognize your capabilities for managing the assignment (realistically you wouldn’t have been set it if you couldn’t do it). It will get done, to a better standard, if you don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
5. Appreciate the little things– It may seem like a task at times to juggle work, family and social life, but consider what life would be like if you were missing one of those things. By recognizing the true value of the things you take for granted, we start to embrace and appreciate the chaos.
6. Go for a swim– Whether you want to get fit and swim 150 laps, or you simply want to just lie there weightless, I personally find relaxing in a pool really soothing. There is nobody there to pester, pressure or patronize you, so it is a great opportunity to find some serenity in the chaos of the day.
8. Read- Is reading still in fashion? I don’t know. But regardless nothing beats the escapism you can get when reading a good book. It totally detaches you from reality and gives you a great opportunity to forget the external pressure you face.
9. Avoid drama like the plague- I feel this one is pretty self-explanatory. Life is hectic enough, we don’t need to make it worse and get involved in pointless petty arguments. In the grand scheme, does it really matter what someone has said about you? In the short term, frustration and anger will make you want to respond, but that won’t be beneficial really in the long run. Just unnecessary stress.
10. Final one, I promise: embrace nature– The pace of nature is innately calming. It’s slow, repetitive, predictable rhythm creates a sense of security that can’t be found in a city or town. It juxtaposes the daily chaos perfectly. My last tip would be then to go out for walks, enjoy nature and embrace the air. Find your calm.
I hope this helps you to balance your day and put yourself first.