It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve had a focus in my life on meditation so that I could calm my mind, body, and soul.
In fact, two years ago it was the only goal I set for 2014 because it was THAT important.
I even felt it was probably more important than my healthy eating habits or exercise, because stress wreaks havoc on a body.
I figured if I could reduce stress and just go with the flow more and chill the f#*k out, that I would probably increase my longevity … more than all the best eating or exercising I could ever do.
That said, I knew a combo of:
- Healthy eating
- Living a calm life …
THAT would be the ultimate.
Well, I pretty much dialed in the healthy eating bit, eh? And exercise and moving? Heck, we got rid of our dining table and couch -> embracing the “furniture free” movement. Check!
Next, I needed to focus on calming my sh*t down.
I’m proud to say that I’ve come a loooong way and I’ve learned a lot the past few years including this post detailing how and why my family meditates, including our daughter (she’s 5 now).
Meditation has changed my life for sure. It’s helped me react less to stressful times. But, I found ways to cope when those stressful times still reared their ugly heads.
That’s what this post is about! I came up with nine ways to instantly chill out. Seriously, they work.
Oh.. And. This past year I found Taoism – WHOA – but that’s for another post.
In the rush of the *sometimes stressful* holidays, these are extra important. Warning: my mouth runs a bit foul in this post.
Here are my top 9 ways to immediately hack your stress and get calm.
The next time your feathers get ruffled, try one of these ideas and see how it instantly calms you. Over time, the more you do this, the more natural it becomes and the more calm you feel ongoing.
1. Will this matter in one year?
The next time something upsetting or stressful happens, ask yourself, “WILL THIS MATTER IN ONE YEAR FROM NOW?”
Most likely the answer is NO. In fact, personally, there has never been a time that I thought “yes” and this simple question has calmed me down immediately… many times.
2. Immediate Mindfulness
The minute you’re freaked out LOOK AT SOMETHING, anything(!), and just notice it.
Look at an object and see its details… observe its colors… its size… its shape… etc. Or listen to sounds around you and just listen to them. This will distract and calm your mind.
For example, you could look at the floor, the wall, a picture, a tissue box, anything.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth (or nose). Listen to your breath. I know this sounds obvious but it makes my top 9 because it works. Returning to the breath is fundamental and works like a charm.
You can enhance the experience by taking your thumb on your right hand and closing your right nostril with it. Breathe in through the left nostril. Then, release the thumb and take your ring finger from that hand and close the left nostril and exhale out the right nostril. Repeat this process over and over until you calm your soul. It works.
4. Actual Meditation
Meditation, of course, works magic for reducing stress. If you choose this option the next time you’re stressed, you simply take a moment to sit down and meditate for one minute, two minutes, or up to five minutes.
This works wonders for ruffled feathers. It’s as if YOU’RE taking control and saying, “I’m going to sit down and meditate. I’m not going to get upset. I’m in charge.”
Some of my favorite “go-to” meditations are:
- Chakra visualizations where I visualize the colors of the chakra and the corresponding body parts – going up and down my body
- or I like to close my eyes and see the blackness surround me like I’m in space
- or I imagine a vortex of energy circling around me and pushing away any negative coming at me,
- or another favorite is closing my eyes and imagining little smiling flower faces coursing through my body from head to toe.
5. The Rabbit Hole of WHAT IF??? Go there and exhaust it.
Here’s another good one. Go down the “what if” rabbit hole.
Go there. Exhaust it.
What does this mean? If you’re really struggling with something, then ask yourself, “What if X happens?” And if so, what if … what if and … what if?
Keep doing that and thinking through the answers. This can be an enlightening experience that brings answers and peace.
6. Jump in with both feet.
If you’re anxious over something you need to do or a choice you need to make, jump in. Believe in the success of it. No need to over analyze everything all the time or sit on the fence. Go, be brave, and expect stellar results.
7. High-Vibe Feeeeeelings
This is one of my favorites.
If I’m feeling stressed, I change my tune and think about things that give me a high-vibe feeling… high vibrations.
What are those? Anything that makes me feeeeeeeeel good. I don’t need to do the thing to feel the pleasure because simply thinking about it works.
This requires a bit of homework on your part so the ideas are readily accessible the next time you need to tap into them. I have a list by my computer of things that give me High-Vibe Warm Fuzzies. For example, I created a list of things that represented feeling good and they were: Awe, Joy, Appreciation, Pleasure, Exhilaration, Humor, Gratitude, Love, and Delight.
Next to each one of these I listed one to three things that brought me that warm fuzzy or high-vibe feeling when I thought about it or experienced it. Don’t list too many because you don’t want to over think it. Just have an example or two for each example that you can reliably turn to in your mind in an instant.
- Awe: nature. I feel awe, which feels awesome, when I’m in nature. So, if I imagine nature… I feeeeeeel good.
- Joy: freedom with my schedule and life. That brings me joy so I think about it and get in a high-vibe state. :)
- Appreciation: Mom and Greg. I feel deep appreciation when I think of all that my mom and Greg do in my life. That makes me feeeeeeel awesome!
- Pleasure: facial, massage, orgasm. Those three things bring me great pleasure so to ponder any of them during a moment of stress can immediately change my state to a high-vibe warm fuzzy one. Strange, but yeah, just thinking about getting a massage makes me feel good.
- Funny: movies. There’s nothing better than laughter during a tense time so if I think about something funny or a funny movie or I make a note to watch a funny movie, it can make me feel better right away.
- Delight: black coffee, matcha green tea – Silly? Nope, these things bring me a feeling of delight which is a high-vibe feeling. If I think of a cup of coffee I’m all “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Now… go make your own list. Write it down and tape it to a wall (or two or three so you can remind yourself whenever necessary of things that make you feeeeeeeeeeeeel good).
8. Gratitude Is Magical
This was mentioned a bit in the last one but it’s so easy… and important.
The minute I feel my panties getting in a bunch and freaking out, I think grateful thoughts. I go so deep into gratitude that I feel gratitude for gratitude because it’s so effective. It can be as simple as feeling gratitude for a good cup of coffee… mmmm. Or, thankful for my legs that walk or the car I get to drive or the family I love, or the delicious water I get to drink.
I feel a lot of gratitude for water.
Spring water… feeling blessed, lucky, and thankful for our big-ass pallet of water.
9. Fuck it… who cares? Fuck it… it’s not important. Fuck it… it doesn’t matter.
Last, BUT NOT LEAST(!) is my attitude of “Fuck it.”
Seriously, for my potty mouth I embrace this one
I used this one when I (gently) rear-ended a car and still felt upset hours later. No one was hurt, not even the other car, just mine – but I was upset nonetheless… that is until I was all like… “Fuck it. It doesn’t matter.” (Greg took it one further… he was excited because he got to play with Bondo. He said, “cars are made to be used,” and that was that.)
You know what? Most of the time there are much bigger problems in the world, and, frankly, we need to realize this more often. That’s where the “Fuck it, who cares?” attitude is great.
These tips for calming down and reducing stress have been invaluable to me and I hope they help you, too.