5 Ways to Instill Calm in Busy Times

“Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving.”

-Mary Oliver

I just want to take a pause before heading on to Christmas lists, cookie baking and all the festivities and first tend to what really matters: the soul and the creative human spirit inside. All the hustle and bustle is wonderful, but it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not taking care of yourself. What I’m going to suggest is incredibly intuitive. It's not glamorous, or expensive. You see, I recently read a thought catalogue article that inspired me. The article reminded me that self care is not only for the wealthy and elite. It’s for all walks of life. I’m going to refer to the term ‘grounding’ here a lot, because something about that word seems to ward off the monkey brain and invites a bit of inner knowing and calm. 

I acknowledge that there are so many (often prescribed) external ways to facilitate calm — essential oil diffusers, candles, Netflix and chill, baths with Epsom salts, a home cooked meal, a fresh and gooey cookie. But I feel that perhaps none of this makes any sense if you’re not also doing the deeper inside work, too. So here are some additional things to consider:


1. Make a list of your priorities.

A really important part of self care is staying grounded and connected with your priorities. Take some time to get crystal clear on what commitments, people and goals deserve your time and effort. If you’re tight on money, be proud that it’s a priority to live on a budget so you can find financial freedom. Decide now to love that you get to cook at home, nest and have game nights instead of taking a cab to the bar. If your friendships are your priority, invest time into the ones you want to cultivate. If your writing career is a priority, then set office hours and find your creative spark every single day. 

2. If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no.

There are so many holiday parties and invitations this time of year. So I’ll say it again, If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no. Don’t feel obligated to attend every single event. Go to the ones you’re genuinely thrilled about. FOMO is bullshit. You deserve to enjoy every moment of your life on your terms. 

3. Breathe.

When you experience overwhelm, use my favorite breathing technique. Close your eyes. Breathe. Let the emotion you're feeling come in to stay for a moment. Sit with it, feel it, no judgement, no other commentary. Simply feel. Then breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of five and breath out for a count of five. Repeat the cycle five times. Then decide to move on. As someone prone to anxiety attacks, this helps me every single time.

4. Move your body in a way that soothes you.

For me, yoga does the trick. I know yoga isn’t for everyone, but every time I get into a class it’s like a giant yawn for my body and soul. It’s as if I’m made to move this way. And my soul just opens right up. Creative thoughts start flowing, the world seems so vast and wide open. My immediate fears and worries become less important somehow because my perspective starts to shift. For others, dance might help release tension in the body. Sweating, concentrating on choreography, letting the body flow improvisationally. How beautiful. The point is that movement is so incredibly restorative. It helps you turn off the negative self talk and invites intuition to come and stay a while. Your body knows what it needs if you give it a moment to tell you. 

5. Let music be your therapy. 

Music is incredibly therapeutic. Again, this varies from person to person, but for me, Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald ignites creativity. Not too long ago I was having a really hard day and I remember laying on my bed listening to Sarah Vaughn’s “Darn That Dream”.  The way her vibrato was so perfectly placed and oh, those lyrics are just so haunting. Tears streamed down my face, the music offering the calm and release I needed. I couldn’t physically get myself the release with willpower alone, but something about the music unlocked whatever was stubbornly holding on. Let your favorite tunes help heal and naturally soothe the internal chaos.  

I’d love to hear about your techniques to remain calm or conquer overwhelm. Now on to the celebrations, prezis, yummy food and Christmas trees!!