How to create calm amongst chaos
We all have to navigate through stressful situations in life. Sometimes by choice: we take on new jobs knowing it might be challenging at first but hope it’ll get easier once we learn the ropes. We move houses and cities, packing up our belongings and living with temporary uncertainty whilst searching out new adventures. We also open our hearts; knowing there’s a risk involved but willing to take it for happiness and what might be.
However, there are other times when life is chaotic and falling apart – and it’s not through choice or decisions we’ve made. We’re a victim of circumstance and what’s happening is out of our control. We can’t control life or death. We can’t always control our health, our financial circumstances or our living situations. We certainly can’t control the actions and behaviours of other people. Sometimes, we have to deal with the cards we’ve been given and it’s not always pretty.
Stress, anxiety, fear and uncertainty become constant companions. We’re only able (at best) to get through the day and it can feel like things will never get better. It’s hard to switch off, give yourself a break or rest enough to be able to think clearly.
Whilst, sometimes those challenging situations can lead to major life changes; often we just have to try and work our way through it until chaos subsides and things start to get easier.
So what do you do when the shit is hitting the fan? Is there a way to navigate choppy and uncertain waters whilst still maintaining an element of calm? How do we create calm amongst chaos?
You can only control what’s in your control
When life feels chaotic; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the smallest decisions. Even simple decisions such as what to eat for lunch can feel difficult and it’s hard to focus when you can’t think clearly. Or the flip reverse happens. We try and control every decision and everyone around us subconsciously feeling it’s the only way we can create some order.
One thing we cannot influence is other people. We can’t control their emotions, behaviours or life choices. And whilst we can point out the impact their behaviour is having on us – we’re not responsible for their actions – only they are. If your focus is trying to diffuse someone’s negativity; your energy will be depleted because you’re fighting a losing battle. Focus on you.
It’s important to recognise we’re only able to control what we’re able to control. Try not to overthink what you can’t. I appreciate that’s easier said than done…
All we can do is try and take responsibility for what’s in our own area of influence. Take baby steps into making smaller decisions and gradually take some control back.
Prioritise what really matters
I know prioritising what really matters sounds like I’m a zen master trying to help you understand that inner happiness is the only real way to find calm out of chaos. However, what I’m talking about is when the chips are down and all you want to do is lie on the floor and let out a guturell roar.
In those circumstances, try and prioritise basic self-care. Remember to eat, get some fresh air and try to do the minimum to keep yourself going. You need your strength.
Try to stop overthinking and over-analysing
I almost feel guilty writing about trying not to overthink or over-analyse because I’ve not yet learnt to do this really myself. Telling me not to overthink is like telling my toddler not to eat sweets put in front of him. What I do know though, overthinking is exhausting. I can spend hours thinking and analysing situations but the reality is, it doesn’t change anything.
What I try to do is everytime one of those thoughts comes into my head is label it with ‘you’re overthinking’ and try and recognise it for what it is. Just being more aware of my thought patterns is helpful.
We have choices in how we react
Whilst we don’t have control over the actions and behaviours of other people, we do have a choice in how we react. Now, again, I’m conscious of not trying to sound like a zen master and suggest you should deal with every situation quietly and calmly. It’s hard to not react when your emotions are triggered.
However, I am suggesting you spend time thinking about those reactions and if you’re making the right choices for you. Can you try and deal with things differently? As much as you might be dealing with a difficult situation, remember people are trying to help you. Or conversely, if you feel you’re triggered by certain people, can you limit the amount of time you spend with them? Can you take some time out for yourself?
Be kind to yourself
The one thing I know about life is that blaming yourself when situations are hard, gets you nowhere. Life is difficult and beautiful – generally at the same time. Beating yourself up will not make the situation any better. It will make you feel far worse.
There may be a chance for self-reflection later down the line where you can think about what you could have done differently. But wait until after the chaos has subsided so you can look at events more objectively and with compassion. Until then, give yourself a break.
Things will get better
All is flux, nothing stays stillPlato
As hard as it can be to imagine sometimes, things will get better. The one constant about life is nothing stays the same. You’ll have a good hour, then a good day, and in time you’ll realise the pain isn’t as constant and you can start to move forwards.
Remember challenges lead to growth
The simple truth is none of us want to have to deal with challenges other than the ones of our own making. Most of the time, they’re pretty horrific and it feels like life has dealt us a shitty card. I don’t know if I believe things happen for a reason. What I do believe though is that we learn from difficult situations and they help us grow. We develop resilience. We learn how to navigate our circumstances and come out of the other side. We also know the next time something happens, we’ll be able to create some calm amongst the chaos.
I’m a different person since my Dad died. I look the same (albeit with more grey hair and wrinkles) but my sense of empathy has expanded a hundred times fold. I’m far less judgemental and I understand people better.
So sometimes some good can come.
Ways to create calm amongst chaos
- Light a candle or diffuse essential oils (lavender, frankincense, cedarwood and vetiver are all good essential oils for creating a sense of calm)
- Journal every day to try and understand your feelings
- Take mindful distractions. Watch a good film or read a book to give your mind a break and help you rest
- Reduce noise. Take a break from social media.
- Try to sleep and create good patterns around bedtime. Remember even if you’re not sleeping, at the very least, your body is resting
- Keep a positive mantra close