4 Ways to Find Calm
Calm is not a normal state of mind for me. It’s something I have to plan, something I have to create routines for. By a certain time at night, I have to shut off. Read a book, read my Bible, light a candle. Sometimes I’ll write in a journal. Sometimes I’ll watch an old favorite TV show.
But some weeks I have to-do lists that cover multiple pages of my planner and stay up answering emails or trying to meet another deadline. Sometimes I stay up scrolling through my phone for hours past the time I wanted to fall asleep. Right now I’m in the middle of the holiday season, in the middle of the beginning of a friendship, in the middle of planning a trip abroad, in the middle of what seems like millions of tasks for work piling up. I can’t remember the last time I shut my phone off. I can’t remember when the last time I had a night in to myself was.
I notice when I don’t take the time to make space for myself to breathe. I wake up without any energy. I can’t shake the feeling that something feels wrong. When I’m too busy, I have to consciously make the effort to find calm…
By spending time alone, outside. I like to go on walks, or runs, through my neighborhood or down to the beach. I take the time to listen to a new podcast or to a new album, or sometimes I listen to nothing at all and give myself space to think. In less busy times I’ll get out for over an hour; when I’m in a crazier season, even ten minutes will be enough.
By turning off my phone. For an hour. For fifteen minutes. For any time period I can manage, to remind myself nobody needs me to respond to them all the time, right away. When I’m caught up in the chaos, I tend to think I need to be online at all times in order not to fall behind. I have to make sure this person knows I’m listening, I have to make sure that one knows I’m working on their request. But when I turn off my phone and come back later on in the day, I realize the time I took for myself never ruins anybody’s day. Save your phone battery, save your sanity.
By prioritizing my life. Not everything can be my top priority every day. Some days I’ll need to say no to plans with friends so I can focus on a project at work. Some days I’ll need to create more realistic deadlines for myself. Some days I’ll have to prioritize alone time even when it feels like there’s no time for it; I remind myself that I always come back better. It’s often one of the hardest things for me to set priorities, to say no when it’s necessary, but it’s the only way for me to ever find peace of mind.
By letting go of what doesn’t serve me. Striving to be perfect. Wanting to make everybody happy. Fear of missing out on the fun. Fear of missing out on an opportunity. Believing I can do it all. Letting those thoughts go adds so much relief back to my life; it reminds me of how small my role in this world really is, and how wrong it would be to fill that role with my own crushing expectations.
Calm doesn’t exist within unrealistic expectations. It doesn’t exist in striving or in hustling or in success if those things aren’t also tied to kindness, and grace, and forgiveness. This life is all a balance, and even though calm isn’t my default setting, it’s always so close to being within my reach.
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