When I was pregnant with my son, Christian, I experienced some of the most trying times in my life. The pregnancy had sapped all of my energy, my youngest daughter at the time, Ariel, was only one years old and my oldest son, Nile, was three. They had tons of energy from morning until night. I had a full time job, and still had a lot of responsibility in caring for my family. My body felt tired and so did my mind, so it was easy for me to lose my cool. How do you stay calm when everything in your life seems to be going crazy?
Most of us have been there.
Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed? Perhaps you had a late night, or your little ones woke you up ten minutes too early. We’ve all been there.
And when you have children, it can be even more trying. You want to be full of energy and have endless patience bounding freely, but after juggling career and school priorities, cleaning the house, preparing meals and putting out business and family fires, aint’ nobody got time for that!
When life seems beyond your control, how you respond can make all the difference. The wrong attitude can set your day on the wrong course affecting your job, your family, your health, finances and more. While you may recover with time, the damage done may not be easily repaired.
So how do you navigate through daily challenges that threaten to overwhelm your sanity, while still pressing forward to be great, to be better, to achieve your goals?
Here are a few proven ways I use to keep my cool!
Keep Calm and Be Still
Everyone needs quiet time. Alone time to just to be…in your own skin. On your own. But what if you don’t have alone time. What if you are the primary caretaker for your child and you can barely get a minute alone?
In moments where you want to be alone, but can’t, I would encourage deep breathing. Children seem to be gifted in the art of creating stress! But when that child is crying for more graham crackers (which is what’s really happening right now!), commit your emotions to calmness, stillness, not anxiety or frustration or the need to respond immediately.
If you give way to stillness, and do nothing. Things sometimes have a way of working themselves out.
I have a tendency to run towards the next thing that’s demanding my attention. But what I learned is that when I do that I make the situation worse with my anxiety and need to control the situation.
Instead, try silence.
A study conducted by John Hopkins University proves that meditation improves patients with conditions of anxiety, depression, pain and stress. When we face a problem, we have the tendency of allowing our minds to run wild. We think of every possible thing that could go wrong, we try to wrestle our way around it. However, by being so involved in the problem, we end up making things worse.
A better solution? Try stillness and prayer.
Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
God has a solution already planned out for you and He’s waiting for you to TRUST him. Be still, listen for His voice…He will speak.
So before we move on, let’s dig into stillness a bit.
Stillness is sitting and doing nothing. Breathing deeply in, breathing out. Focus on your breath. Clear your mind. Don’t allow your mind to race. Don’t allow thoughts to overtake your stillness. Feel what it’s like to be in your skin. You are spirit. You are made in God’s image. Who are you? Do you know? Sometimes we are going-going-going and associating our worth with what we do rather than who we actually are.
Before you sit and be still, ask God to tell you who you are. Ask Him to show you what to do today. Sit and listen. Listen for God. Listen for purpose. I start everyday this way. I breathe in the world. I think about where I am, where my family is, where my loved ones are, I think about everyone and everything connected to me. And then I breathe it all out to God.
I can do this in silence. Sometimes, when there are a billion things going on, I do this in chaos.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
Keep Calm and Focus – Be in the moment.
Be anxious for nothing. (Phil. 4:6)
There is this myth about multi-tasking. That it makes you more productive and helps you get more done.
In an article by Health Day, David Meyer, professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan shares “The brain responds to impossible demands by pumping out adrenaline and other stress hormones that put a person “on edge.” These hormones provide a quick burst of energy, but energy won’t make multitasking easier, he says. An old pickup can’t go 150 miles per hour no matter how much fuel you put in the tank or how hard you step on the gas.”
Zoning completely in on the task at hand, helps you to achieve that task better, and removes the stress of things that you can’t get to right away. In my previous job, I had two roles, a Brand Journalist and an Executive Assistant. What I learned is that in trying to do both roles, although I learned more about the company – it was difficult for me to focus enough to write the content I needed. No matter which I turned it, flipped it and tried to manage it, email breaks would lead me down rabbit holes of communication that stopped by blog posts dead in their tracks.
Here’s another example. Have you ever tried to cook a meal while giving the kids a bath? Not a good idea. Pancakes COMPLETELY burned.
If you are under pressure to perform immediately, don’t be afraid to ask for two minutes to finish your work – even better, just say no! Focus on what you’re great at – and allow others to take the plate for tasks that you do just “okay” in.
Keep Calm and Stay Ahead of the Game.
Winners have a game plan. Whether it’s what the kids are eating for breakfast, or what you’re going to wear the next day, or what you’re going to say when you make that phone call. Make it a habit to start your day with a journal of what you want your day to look like. Let that list or word of the day serve as a focal point throughout the remainder of the day, when you have a few extra minutes and you’re wondering what you should do next.
Envision what a successful day would look like. What do you need to do to get it there? A little extra thought, during your commute or before you start your day can avoid much frustration in the aftermath. With children, this tip is particularly helpful. My motto is “if you don’t give a child something to do, they’ll find something to do”. Now, there’s no guarantee that you’ll like what they “find to do”, so it’s best to just plan ahead. It could be as simple as:
- Pick up Nile from the bus stop.
- Give them a snack.
- They can watch a movie, while Nile does his homework and I make dinner. If they get bored with the movie, let them go outside.
- Dinner, bath time, bed.
Having a plan of action keeps me from being overwhelmed. A plan brings order to your life. Order reduces chaos – and stress!
Keep Calm and Take Care of your Health.
One day, I noticed how much more tired I was after eating a #3 from McDonald’s versus having turkey and cheese on wheat with a banana. Yes, diet affects your level of fatigue and overall sense of wellbeing.
A study cited in WebMD states that “Long-term exposure to an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression.” So the worse your eating habits, unfortunately, the worse your mood may be. The good news is – this kind of thing is easily turned around. While it may take weeks to see the physical change due to a healthy diet, it only takes hours to feel the emotional benefits of eating right. And that goes for exercise, getting enough sleep and other healthy practices.
You are in control of your life.
God made you in His image and He gave you Free Will. You can choose to be happy. You can choose to maintain control, even when things are crazy and you should be losing it. Your life is more than what is happening around you. It’s what’s happening in you.
Center yourself through quiet time with God, through preparation and a little TLC so you can be your best body, mind and soul.
Did I miss anything? What do you do to keep your cool? Leave a comment below!