After a day like I had yesterday, it is good to know that I have tools that help me to stay calm during chaotic moments, days or months in my life. I had to spend half of my day at the doctor and in between that I was taking care of my kids and trying to stay on top of homework, extracurricular activities, household chores, dinner and getting my own raging headache under control.
I'm sure that anyone who has ANY amount of responsibility (basically if you breathe) can relate to those times when life is really, really chaotic. I want to share just one simple tip that you can implement into your life right now to help you develop the ability to stay calm when life throws that fast ball over and over and over again.
I used to hear the phrase "Just breathe" and think of the Faith Hill song "Breathe". And as the years have gone and the phrase has popped into my head over and over again, I have come to appreciate it on a deeper level. It has gone from being a cute little jingle that gets stuck in my head to evolving into my mantra to help me stay calm no matter what is happening around me.
I start out most mornings by exercising. If I don't do it first thing, it just doesn't get done. I have never enjoyed going to a gym and I don't really have a dedicated space for my own equipment. Instead I pull from my collection of DVDS or more likely, just find an exercise video on Youtube.
Since only two of my kids go to school (and all of them are home in the summer) I have learned how to exercise with my kids all hanging around me. Right now my routine is to do a little bit of cardio or aerobic to warm myself up. Then I finish with a yoga sequence.
How I Stay Calm in Chaos
This is where it gets challenging. A lot of the poses I do land me on the floor. Once that happens all chaos ensues! Suddenly the kids think I'm a jungle gym and should be climbed over, on and around. I have little people coming at me from all angles. Sometimes their movement hinders me from actually getting into a pose and sometimes they will sit on me in just the right spot to help deepen my stretch.
Whichever they do, you know what keeps me going through it all? In my mind I keep saying over and over again, "just breathe". You'd be surprised how many crazy situations that little phrase can get you through and help you to stay calm.
Breathing Techniques to Try
I am able to stay calm my using a number of different breathing techniques. I don't always use all of these techniques at the same time, but I have used each of them to help me stay calm or calm down.
- Try closing your eyes while you breathe and pay attention to your natural breath pattern. Are you breathing quickly? Try slowing it down a bit.
- Count and breathe in a rhythmic way. An example of this would be to breathe in for 5, hold for 5, then breathe out for 5. Repeat that breathing sequence for a minute or more.
- Sometimes all you need to do is take one, big, calm deep breath and just let it out and any other tension you might be holding onto. When I stop and take the time to take one deep breath, often I will recognize that I am holding tension in my shoulders and I am able to consciously relax.
- This breathing idea is a bit more complex, but it's really interesting to try. I do this when I am already in a somewhat calm state because it's not really a quick fix. As you breathe in deeply use your fingertip to lightly press against one nostril so air only goes in the other side. Then when you are breathing out tap your finger to close the other nostril wile simultaneously opening the other side. Do this for 10 deep breaths.
Why Breathing Helps us to Stay Calm
As someone who has suffered from anxiety, I have definitely had many moments where the world around me seemed like it was spinning out of control. I may not be able to control all the outside factors, but I CAN control my breathing.
After years of doing yoga, I have experienced how deep, conscious breathing really benefits my nervous system. It brings a calming feeling to my very soul. Deep, conscious breathing also allows my mind to stop flitting around to all the distracting and anxious thoughts that have riddled my mind in the past and allows me to focus in on what is most important.
It has been such a blessing for me to learn how to do something actionable to help manage my stress and anxiety. I'm still a work in process, but now when I hear the phrase "Just breathe" I remember to take a deep, long breath and then just let it all go (which reminds me of another song, but that is a topic for another day).