Healthy Lifestyle,  Mental Health,  Productivity,  Self Care

How To Find Calm Amidst The Chaos

Hi everyone- my name is Sam and I am a recovering stress bomb. For the vast majority of my 28 years, stress is something I wasn’t able to cope with well- at all. I never managed it properly for a variety of reasons, but now as an adult who choses to live consciously, I am making a conscious decision everyday to keep my cool and find zen amidst the chaos of motherhood & adulthood. Chaos and stress does not discriminate – ALL of us, whether we are parents, single, married, young, old, rich, or poor- can’t escape stress. The good news is, we can be more mindful in our coping mechanisms for how we deal with stress. All of us have certain coping mechanisms that helps us manage our stress- some are healthy and some are unhealthy. Some of us are workaholics who use stress to fuel us to continue working while some of us hit the gym daily to release pent up stress. Some of us perhaps drink too much alcohol or abuse prescription medication as a means for managing stress while some of us may take out our stress on our loved ones in the form of emotional or verbal abuse, which obviously isn’t healthy either.

Being a mother adds an entire new dimension of stress to our lives. We love our babies- don’t get me wrong- but instead of just worrying about my day, I am now worrying about the happiness, health, and literal life of my two little ones in addition to my husband’s needs, household needs, my job, and my own needs. Stress and chaos comes in many forms and often creeps up on us when we are least expecting it. Add a screaming toddler, burning dinner, last minute homework assignments, and a broken washing machine to the day and it can easily take our zen to a place of full on stress-induced rage. As a recovering stress bomb, I used to feel stressed and flip the hell out on a dime. My stress management was so poor, that it literally took me a few years of conscious, mindful living to overcome my unresolved childhood trauma which was the origin of my stress-induced outbursts. It didn’t take going on a spiritual quest in the Amazon or spending thousands on seminars in Sedona, Nope. It took a growth mindset combined with an absolute desire to change to improve my quality of life to see a real improvement in how I coped with stress.

One of my personal biggest stressful triggers was not being organized- when I am not organized, I feel stressed and chaotic. Having a weekly planner and monthly planner on the wall allows me to have constant visuals of what my day and week looks like so I can plan ahead and plan accordingly- which keeps my stress at bay. For example, in my planner I write out 2 chores I need to do each day in order to prevent the chores from piling up and having to take hours to tackle it which is stressful. The thought of winging my days anymore gives me anxiety in itself, I can’t say that I never make a spontaneous decision about my day- but it is helpful while having kids in school and working to have an outline of what each week needs to look like. Additionally, one of the most helpful things that helps me remain calm when it is chaotic is to embrace it. I don’t have to love it exactly, but I don’t get bent out of shape or let me ruin my day when it is happening. I have always been fairly resilient and am not a dweller- so if you are a dweller or a pessimist, you should get on the personal development train with us and work relentlessly on being your best self. Learning to roll with life’s never-ending punches is going to make you flexible & resilient, and more calm during chaotic times.

If you are struggling to remain calm when chaos ensues- perhaps my personal tips will help you!

Start Your Morning with Gratitude- are your children alive and healthy? You are alive and healthy? Got a roof over your head and food in the fridge? Be grateful for that. This is something I do every single morning before I roll out of bed. I feel the gratitude in my heart for another day that myself and my children get to live and that we are healthy, have food, clean water, and a roof over our heads.

Deep Breaths- This may sound silly but it is so effective. When I find myself on the verge of losing my shit, I take long breaths in through my nose and out of my mouth and it helps slow my heart rate (my heart races when I start to feel stressed, which makes me even more stressed- go figure!). When my kids start to get themselves worked up or are trying to calm down post tantrum- I have them match my deep breathing exercise which is again, just taking long, deep breaths in through my nose until I fill my belly with air followed by a long exhale.

Release Tension- I constantly notice my body being in a tense position so when this happens, I roll my shoulders back, unclench my hands, uncurl my toes, release the tension in my jaw and forehead, and I will shake my arms and legs out. I also work out 4-5 times per week and stretch quite a bit which is so important for mental health!

Slow Your Thoughts Down & Focus on One Thing at a Time- When I am feeling stressed, my brain starts cycling through every possible scenario, is thinking a million thoughts per second, and flat-out stops functioning rationally. It has taken years of discipline and meditation to be able to slow my thoughts down and respond rationally. When I feel this way, combined with my deep breaths- I focus on one thing at a time which naturally slows my thoughts down. I force myself to get my brain to settle down and to focus on one task at a time, not if we are going to be late or if my daughter forgot to turn in that paper- one thing at a time my friends! Your goal should always be to respond rationally and remain calm (to the best of your ability) in any given situation.

Respond, Don’t React- This is HUGE. Do you react to stress or respond? Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t living a mindful life in the moment, it is safe to say that you react to stress. Break the habit of this. Some people react to stress by binge eating chocolate cake, some people react to stress by drinking a 2 bottles of wine per night. Break your reactions to stress and start responding to your stress instead. Respond with a clear mind and a rational approach and you can truly break free from how you used to react to stress.

Turn Your Negative Projections into Positive Expectations- This plays a massive role in how we deal with stress and chaos. If you are constantly telling yourself that you are going to be late to the game or your boss sucks or you don’t have enough money- chances of those scenarios playing out in the way that you tell them are very high. Your negative projections will usually come true- so shift those into positive expectations and tell yourself a new story. If you are late to the game, is it really that big of a deal? Perhaps your boss was in a crappy mood that day but she is a human as well and today is a new day.  You didn’t have enough money for that thing you wanted? Shift your thinking that you have all the money you need and that whatever you are wanting in this moment will come in time.

Eat Clean Food & Drink Plenty of Water- I have personally found that when I am on a strict paleo or whole30 diet, I can tell a huge difference not only in my body but my mind. Imagine what eating cheetos and drinking diet coke every day can do to your body, let alone your brain. When I eat like shit, I feel like shit so I take this into consideration when I eat. I would say I eat about 85% clean- meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts & seeds (no dairy or gluten). However— will I turn down a slice of birthday cake? Nope. Will I turn down a piece of lasagna when it’s offered? Nope. Life is about balance ladies. I never will deny myself a little treat and that is what works for me!

Be Present- Live in the Moment- Future tripping is a word I like to use when I am, well- future tripping. It means that you are constantly thinking about what is next, what tonight, tomorrow, and next week is going to look like. This type of thinking is a breeding ground for anxiety- so stop torturing yourself. Sure you should plan your life out and all of that, but if you find yourself constantly thinking about future events, you need to stop yourself and break that pattern. I was the queen-future-tripper- not no ‘mo!

 Raise Your Vibrations- When energy is low, turn on your favorite tune and dance/sing (I’m dead serious). Just the other day I was in a crappy mood and I turned on Whitney Houston and sung so loud in my back yard that I felt sorry for my neighbors. I danced around and pretended that I was on stage actually singing. This type of stuff really gets my energy in the right place, which in turn, sets the tone for my day. Every time I am in the car, I use it as a time to raise my vibrations by blasting music that makes me happy. Sing along and feel the energy in your body rise. This may not combat stress but I am 100 times more likely to respond to stress in a much better manner when my energy is right because I was rocking out to Mr. Brightside in the car.

Get Outside and Away from Electronics- This is a huge one for me personally. Growing up in Alaska, I have a real love and appreciate for nature and the outdoors. When I am feeling stressed, anxious, or down- I will go on a walk and just get outside. I am in San Diego now and anytime that I can make it to the beach and just soak in the sun and the beauty- I do it. Just this morning I went on an amazing bike ride just around my neighborhood and the fresh air and sun shine was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Meditate- I saved the best for last— meditation. I LOVE to meditate and I probably wouldn’t have been able to recover from my stress-bomb-past without it. Meditation is scientifically proven to increase calmness and reduce stress. I find that all of the above tips are easier because I meditate daily. I got an amazing gift for Christmas called the Muse Meditation headband and it has been a life saver. If you struggle with meditating or don’t know how to do it, get this headband! It senses your brain signals and provides you with real-time neurofeedback. If you are meditating correctly, you will hear birds chirping and if your brain is too active, you will hear stormy weather. I recommend this headband to all of my friends- you can learn more about Muse HERE. 

I hope that some of these tips can help you find ways to remain calm amidst the chaos of life and motherhood. I have found that embracing the chaos helps me cope with it much more- I call this ‘going with the flow’. Do the work necessary to break some of your bad habits, learn to live in the moment, and stop future tripping!  Say no to things you don’t want to do and if you tend to overcommit- learn to say no! Find the beauty in the little things and celebrate life’s little wins daily! We are all in this together and on our own unique paths. Don’t compare your path to anyone else’s and focus on your strengths. Lastly, never stop trying to improve yourself, your behavior, your relationships, your parenting, the list goes on. Personal development is all about always trying to be better than you were yesterday! We post quite a bit of personal development content and quotes on our Instagram page, mommaslay.official. Thanks for reading 🙂

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