You have a couple of choices: A) You can discipline yourself to calm down any time something stressful is unfolding or a crisis happens, B) You can become a calmer person. Period.
I happen to like B best.
I’ve seen ultra-busy people move rapidly around the office, hyperventilating. They walk into meetings 100 miles an hour and talk rapidly about all that is on their plate. When someone needs something, they answer abruptly, “What do you need?” Many even sigh audibly.
A lot will likely come your way in a day. Whether you show up in a calm way or a harried way, your plate is your plate.
Haste. A fast pace. A panicked voice. A raised voice. These things are unkind to yourself. You cannot maintain this style of living day after day.
Now, I’ll be the first to share I am a huge fan of a strong work ethic. I admire people who come to work, stay nose to the grindstone and generate results. A good day’s work for a good day’s pay. This is more appealing to me than someone who strolls in late, spends time chatting with co-workers throughout much of the day and does not noticeably advance projects.
This carries over into our personal lives as well. My husband will tell you I never stop moving. So much to accomplish and so little time.
That said, it is unreasonable to think any of us will end our day without loose ends.
The best any of us can do is to do our very best. If we have more on our plate than we can possibly tackle, we can do our best. Occasionally, we may need to work beyond a 40 or 50-hour work week. We may need to catch up during the evening or even on the week end.
And at home, we may need to rise at 5:00 am.
Adopting a mindset of “I’m overwhelmed; I have too much on my plate; what will I do about it?” is different from living in a constant state of harried-ness.
Busy schedules create a lack of calm.
Another trigger for lack of calm is unpleasant or disappointing conversations with others.
Can you recall a time someone really got your dander up? Because of something they said or did, you became a not-very-admirable version of yourself? Raised voice, intolerance, interrupting. Do you tend to say things you don’t mean or wish you could take back?
In a conversation, whether you react calmly or not, this person still did or said what they did or said. You cannot control what someone else says or does, but you can control how you respond. I’ve always loved the phrase “Grace under fire.”
I think it’s admirable for us to keep our cool when we’re being tested.
Choosing to become a calmer person gives you a project, in essence. You can begin to work on this in small steps.
So, what can you do?
5 ways to calm down
1. Make time to escape.
Work can be overwhelming. It doesn’t matter if you go somewhere to work or you work for yourself at home. Work is almost always a lot. Or, if you’re home taking care of children; well, that’s a lot, too. Make sure you weave time into your schedule to recharge. What can you do each day? In fact, you may think about what you can do on a daily basis, weekly basis and monthly basis.
- Daily:A walk without earbuds; a 30-minute workout, write in a journal for ten minutes, meditate for five minutes, enjoy your morning shower, slip into your comfy clothes after work and relax in your bedroom for five or ten minutes before you start dinner. Every day, make sure you are sleeping enough. Sleep is important for becoming calmer. It also supports creativity.
- Weekly:Tuesday night date nights or Thursday girlfriend nights, sleep in an extra hour on Saturday morning, a long run or walk on the week end, cooking for the week.
- Monthly: A massage, weekend get-away, pedicure.
This has become a common part of a day for so many people. And unbeknownst to many others, meditating does not have to consume a significant amount of your time. I admit, I used to envision kneeling on a hard surface for hours in a meditative state. Whew. That’s not how people are doing it.
You can do this at home as part of your morning ritual, in the evening as you’re going to sleep, or you can find a moment during your day to stop what you’re doing and breathe.
Try this right now. Stop what you’re doing. Close your eyes, put your hands in your lap, relax your shoulders, relax the rest of your body. Now slowly breathe in. Slowly breathe out.
Try to clear your mind. Concentrate on your breathing.
If you have difficulty clearing your mind (I know I do), try counting each time you inhale.
How many times can you allow yourself to inhale and exhale on this first try? Each time, you can try to add one more.
3. Put your expectations of yourself in proper perspective.
Are you a Type A person?
Are your expectations of yourself too much? High expectations are admirable, and I love people who are striving to build something amazing or who are working hard to manage all of the moving parts of their lives.
If you’re able to wind down your day, get into bed and feel good about all that you accomplished during your day….and ready to get back at it tomorrow with a smile on your face, then I think you’re good.
If you are beating yourself up because of all you didn’t get to, or if you feel that everyone else is more on the ball then you, you may have an opportunity to calm down your expectations.
I encourage you to look at your life in decades. I’ve always felt that I have a good seven decades to be a producer. Well, perhaps I don’t count my first twenty years. But as an adult, five decades.
For those of you who are moms and knee deep in raising humans, that will take up 20 – 30 years. You still have one or two solid decades after they’re launched for your own time to follow your passion.
4. Be thankful for the little things in life.
If you’re reading this, chances are you have a fairly easy world life, all things considered. Do you have a place to live, money in your pocket, transportation, food in your fridge?
I understand these things may not always be what we want or at the level that we aspire to, but we are so far ahead of millions of people in the world. Actually, billions.
As you strive for more and more, think about where you are today? You have reached a stage of life that you aspired to ten years ago.
Whatever you’re aspiring to now, it will come in due time. Continue your striving, but at the same time, appreciate what you have right now today. This is called the power of now. Thank you, Eckhart Tolle. (If you don’t know, he wrote, “The Power of Now,” a must read.)
5. Stop the comparison trap.
Boy oh boy, this is a big one. This will kick anxiety into high gear. I’ve watched so many lovely women become unsettled because of the perfect lives they are seeing on Facebook and Instagram.
There is a difference between the moment a photo is snapped and what happens before and after the photo. And most women, when they know they have a photo op in their day will make sure they show up with the hair and make up tended to.
We don’t see each other fresh out of bed. And, we don’t see the daily living clutter of our homes, the fighting children, the relationship tension that is perfectly normal in life, and the fatigue that creeps in.
All of these things are normal.
There is a lot going on. There will always be a lot going on. Freaking out, as my kids say, will not change the general vibe of life.
So, regardless of your environment, calm. down.
If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to my research on women’s fulfillment, you can find my survey at aletanorris.com/tribe.
Or join my Women Who Spark Tribe Facebook Community to become part of a supportive group of women….seeking positivity and productivity in life, just like you.