Finding Peace in a Chaotic World: Ten things you can do to de-stress quickly by River Layne
The world can be an overwhelming place. Listening to the news—the chaos around the world, wars and conflicts, weather catastrophes, crime, and politics inundate us daily with negativity and stress. Work and school stresses add another, even closer, layer to our anxiety level. And family and relationship issues can cause the most stress in our lives because we are more emotionally tied to these events. It can be very unhealthy, not to mention unpleasant, to lose our inner peace. Here are ten things you can easily do to get some of that peace back quickly and restore your Zen.
- Unplug, literally. Turn off the news, particularly. It is important to be an informed citizen, but personally, I need to periodically take a 7-10 day hiatus from all news. This includes television, radio, internet, and social media sites. You will be surprised at the positive effect this little vacation from reality will have on your inner peace.
- If you visit social media sites, post positive things only, and read positive things only. If you aren’t sure you can avoid the news, just post without surfing. Better yet, take a vacation from social media altogether.
- Breathe. Whenever you find yourself in an upsetting or anxiety-producing situation, stop, close your eyes, take deep breaths, and just concentrate on the breaths, the inhalation and the exhalation. Breathe out the stress. This should be your first go-to in any potentially anxiety-producing situation.
- Go outside. If possible, retreat to nature. Nature is a quick and natural way to unwind and de-stress. Even if you live in a city, you can take a walk in a park. Walk through a treed area. Find a water feature—a stream, lake, or fountain. Sit next to the water and close your eyes, breathe, and listen. Notice all your senses.
- Read a happy book or listen to one on audio. Everyone has their favorite go-to genre, but always keep some good, pleasant escape books on hand. When I am really stressed, I enjoy fantasy, preferably with some humor like Harry Potter. I also recommend books about finding inner peace to listen to at times like this. Here are some of my favorites: The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, and Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
- Laugh. Save Game of Thrones for when you are feeling better and watch a comedy instead, preferably a slap-stick movie. Avoid situational comedies on TV that tend to have too many everyday problems in their plots. Watch something that will make you laugh until your stomach hurts. This releases a lot of stress.
- Take a walk. A few minutes of exercise, particularly outside, will rejuvenate you and clear your head. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells while you are out. Be in the moment while you walk. Avoid using it as a time to think about problems or solutions.
- Work on something that requires complete concentration. I like putting together puzzles to relax. Painting, writing fiction, gardening, and crafting are all relaxing activities as well. Immersing yourself in any absorbing activity takes you away from the stress and gives you some much needed time away from the chaos of life.
- Burn some incense and meditate. Even if you do not regularly meditate, try burning some incense or a favorite candle and just sitting. Sit in a comfortable position. Start by closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Notice your breath, the scents in the room, and let yourself float in sensation. You can continue to focus on your breathing or you can drift on images and thoughts that come into your consciousness. If any negative thoughts or worries come into your mind, notice them and gently move them aside and drift to the next pleasant thought by noticing the scents in the air and by focusing on your breathing again. Just 5-15 minutes of this can lower your blood pressure and relax your whole body.
- Pet a dog, cat, or spend time with your favorite animal. Spending time with animals is a good way to de-stress. Animals are non-judgmental and don’t have an opinion on the political conflicts of the world. They live in the moment and just enjoy the sensations of being. Enjoying the unconditional love of an animal and giving this love to them is, not only a great way to de-stress, but a way to be in touch with a basic fundamental need of all living creatures.
It’s a good idea to make these activities part of your daily routine, so that you lower your stress level all the time to live a longer, healthier, and happier life, and to have some strategies to deal with the inevitable chaos of the world of which we are a part. Additionally, by engaging in these positive, stress-relieving activities, we are also making the world a less chaotic place for those around us. We are all connected, and when we make ourselves happier and healthier, we make the world happier and healthier. Peace—River Layne