Most of us live in a world where we are constantly over-stimulated, overstressed, and all over the place. We are constantly checking our phones, emails, and social medias in an attempt to “keep up” with EVERYTHING. While at surface level it may not seem like much, overtime this can lead to an unnecessary amount of stress and anxiety. Not being able to properly manage stress and anxiety has been shown to have a negative impact on our well-being. We’ve all felt this before, some more than others. It shows itself through irritability, fatigue, hopelessness, and internal chaos.
Something that has been helping me relieve these symptoms in my day-to-day life is through finding and creating stillness. To me, stillness is accessing a sense of calm at any moment or presence. While it hasn’t been an easy process to develop this, it has been crucial in my development of becoming a more well-balanced version of myself.
The two biggest catalysts in creating more stillness in my life are meditation and focusing solely on the things I can control. Typically, I do a mindfulness meditation where I sit down quietly and focus on my breath. I either focus on the sensation of my stomach rising and falling with each inhale and exhale or I focus on the air flowing in and out of my nostrils as I breathe. When my mind wanders away from my breath and towards a thought (which it always does!), I catch myself, acknowledge the thought, and return to my breath. I continue this process for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour depending on how much time I have.
Mindful meditation has provided me so much self-awareness. When I am going through a hectic moment during my day (trying to do a thousand things at once), I can catch myself rather quickly. Instead of continuing down the rabbit hole and building more stress and anxiety, I’ll literally feel my chest and throat tightening up, (awareness) stop whatever I’m doing, and take a few slow, deep breaths. Viola! I’m back at peace again. My chest and throat will loosen back up and I am back in the zone.
The more and more I meditate, the easier it has been for me to catch myself feeling some type of way, and proactively do something about it.
In addition to meditation, focusing solely on the facets of life and situations I can control have been game changers. In the past, I used to worry and get upset about things I have ZERO control over: people’s opinion of me, the success other people were having, etc. I used to get anxiety over similar issues: Is this potential client going to work with me? Am I doing enough to promote myself? Is what I’m saying landing the way I want it to?
Once I shifted my focus towards giving my best effort with everything I was involved in, I gained a sense of stillness within myself. One of my favorite mantras is “keep it real with yourself.” At the end of the day, I know if I am giving my best effort or not. I know if I am organizing my day as best I can, if I am properly prioritizing, and if I am putting myself in a position to succeed. My ACTIONS are what I have control over. I won’t let anything outside of that zap my energy.
5 Ways to Find Your Stillness
- Incorporate a meditation practice: Meditation does not have to take long. Studies have shown that 8 minutes of meditation a day can have a positive affect on well-being. Mindful meditation is my go-to. Apps like Headspace provide easy, short, guided meditations that I found super helpful when I was beginning.
- Incorporate a breathing practice: Some of my favorite breathing exercises are box breathing (4 second inhale through the nose, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, repeat). I also like to use a method where I inhale for a 4 second count and exhale for a 7 second count. Repeat 5 times.
- Take a walk in nature: There is such a calming effect that takes place when you walk around and breath in fresh air. Get your toes in the sand, gaze at the ocean, look at the trees, whatever. Just get outside and enjoy the scenery.
- Focus on the things you can control: At the end of the day we only have control over the actions we take and how we react to situations. Anything outside of that is not worth out energy!
- Prioritize what is most important to you: Organize your to-do list by sitting down and writing everything that you want to get done. Put them in order from most important to least important and start knocking them out one by one. The level of accomplishment that comes with achieving goals (no matter how small) has huge impact on our sense of fulfillment.
I hope these strategies help you find more stillness in your life. Once we are able to find peace with our life, everything flows much smoother.
-You Can 2