Can it be a coincidence how very popular the World War II era British saying “Keep Calm and Carry On” has grown in recent years? The world is full of chaos, pressure, and responsibilities these days, but tension doesn’t have to be your default reaction. Put these five strategies in place to strengthen your serenity, and stop snapping and stress from taking over.
Try Breathing and Meditation Exercises
Become a daily practitioner of meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga, which all build the habit of being in the moment, and can reduce stress over the long-term. Lena Dunham, who is overwhelming busy as a writer, actress, producer, and director, has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since age nine. For Dunham, meditation has “has made it possible for me to weather certain challenges and storms and public moments that I didn’t ever imagine would be in my life.”
The daily practice of meditating is helpful for an overall calm demeanor. During moments of stress, focusing on your breathing – you can do a breathing exercise, or just sit quietly thinking about your breathe moving in and out of your body. Done right, this type of focus on breathing will prevent stress from accumulating and dispel anxiety.
Get the Rest You Need
Are you more likely to snap when you’re tired? Prone to frustration over small-scale problems – getting cut off while driving; a slow-moving barista at the coffee shop – when you’re sleepy? Sleep provides your body with time to recharge. Overtired people have more stress hormones coursing through their blood, and a lack of sleep can make regulating emotions a challenge. The impacts of sleep deprivation on your health and emotional well-being are profound. Make sure to get the sleep you need, and consider scheduling some nap-time if you need it.
Don’t Allow Scope Creep
Late at night is when over-thinking happened: it’s a time for analyzing conversations, reassessing career decisions, and other non-restful thoughts. Keep scale in mind in the midnight hour, but also throughout the day. Let small things go, practice forgiveness, and be mindful of the big picture. Think: will this situation still be bothering me in a month? Try to accept that even though something may not have gone as you wished, stewing over it will do nothing to change the outcome.
On a similar note, fight tendencies to perfection. Remember, that as Voltaire said, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Better to try, and get somewhere, then not try because of fear of failure. And, of course, perfectionist tendencies work to make any accomplishment somehow not successful enough. Rather than chasing after absolutely perfect, A+ work, strive to do the best you can.
Form a Good Support System
Friends and family form a bedrock of support: even if you’re overwhelmed, anxious, or ill at ease, there’s comfort to be found in their bolstering compassion, sympathy, and love.
Friends and family also serve as a way to help work out tensions, find solutions, and simply be a voice on the phone or a friendly email in times of doubt. There’s science to back up the benefits of friends: a 2011 study found that the presence of a BFF in stressful situations increased self-confidence and general self-worth. Cultivate these relationships, and when necessary, lean on them.
How do you stay serene – even when the dogs are barking, the kids are yelling, and you’re wildly overwhelmed with both work and dirty dishes? Share your favorite tips on social media. And don’t forget: there’s power in our Mood-lites and candles to bolster the feeling of serenity even in tense moments.