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How to find the calm amidst the crazy

Last week was a particularly chaotic week for me.
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Between the kids and their activities, the stack of bills that desperately needed attention, the pile of dishes that continued to accumulate in the sink, the traveling husband and the client who urgently needed two press releases written, I was feeling completely overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I have a tendency to get angry and grumpy—and nobody likes an angry, grumpy mama.

Aware that I was riding the express train to moody-town, I took a step back and put on the breaks. I turned to a few of my go-to strategies to settle myself down and get centered. Fortunately I was able to pull that speeding train into calm station. And because my efforts worked so beautifully for me last week, I decided I’d be super generous and share them with you today.

Steph’s Tips for Finding the Calm Amidst the Crazy:

Give the bambinos a hug. Okay, so this may seem counterintuitive since oftentimes it’s the kids who are causing the chaos in our lives. But for me, that is not always the case. Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s the hubs. Sometimes it’s just the busy, crazy, how-did-I-get-myself-into-this-nonsense schedule. That’s when a nice hug from a little person comes in handy. It doesn’t have to be a big, long embrace; just grab them as they’re running by and give them a squeeze. And for those few seconds (or minutes if you’re lucky), just savor that moment of stillness with those whom you love most in this world. But be sure to let them go before they get antsy and start to push away. Trust me… it’s just better that way.

Get lost in your favorite tunes. I’m not suggesting you go into hiding with your iPod and lock the rest of the world out (though that would be nice). What I am suggesting is you find a way to work a little music into your day. I rock out to my tunes when I’m cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen and even sometimes when I’m in the shower. And now that my kids are a little older and no longer bound to kiddie music, I make them listen to my tunes in the car. (Yes, I sing loudly. No, they do not like that). Listening to good music that gets me going puts me in a more relaxed place.

Get outside and just be. Look around at the flowers and the trees. Close your eyes, listen the birds, feel the breeze on your face and smell whatever it is that nature is throwing out at you (hopefully it’s something pleasant). This is how I force myself to stop and take a minute to chill and just be. With this, I usually find that I can breathe more deeply and think more clearly.

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Stop and think of things in your life for which you are grateful. No matter what is going on in your day, all it takes is a few minutes. Just stop yourself and make a mental list of all those things, tangible and intangible, that enrich your life—anything from the health of your children to the air conditioning that cools your home on a sweltering day. When I’m in a crappy mood, this usually helps me to 180 my thought patterns. It takes me from a place of complaining to a place of gratitude. You’d be surprised at how just a few minutes of giving thanks can put it all into perspective.

Find something to laugh about. Maybe it’s a DVR’d episode of Modern Family. Maybe it’s something hilarious/cooky/adorable one of your kids did. Maybe it’s even the absurdity that is your spouse. I find that when I let go and try to find the humor in the little things (and if you look hard enough, it’s everywhere) my tension and frustration very naturally begin to subside.

Observe your pet. Animals can be great role models for us humans. Yes, I did just say that. But think about it: your pet lives in the present moment. She doesn’t worry about tomorrow or beat herself up over yesterday. She finds joy in the simplest of things, like a single cheerio falling to the ground or a slight breeze coming through the window. She loves unconditionally. When I stop and observe the simplicity by which my dog lives her life, I am reminded of the utter contentment that comes with living in the present moment.

It can be so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and I oftentimes forget to breathe. I forget to stop and smell the hyacinth. And I love hyacinth. But I find that amidst all the chaos when I am able to slow down and bring myself to a more mindful place, I have a greater sense of peace and wellbeing, I have less stress and anxiety and I am generally a happier, calmer person.

What do you do to calm yourself down?




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