Finding Calm in the Chaos
by anna rogers
Did a whirlwind holiday season whisk you into January before you could catch your breath? Does a New Year with new goals, new challenges, and the same old schedule conflicts feel daunting?
Calm has become like a unicorn in our culture – this rare, magical, unattainable trait that's just out of our reach. So, I say, let's bring this magic to life in our lives, adopting simplicity and a counter-cultural peace that doesn’t wane and wax with the day’s circumstances.
Calm is more than self-care, though self-care is essential to creating and maintaining rest and joy. Calm is more than stress management, though we need those tools to face struggles (or everyday messes) in our toolbox. Calm is a state of being – an inertness, as in an atom. There is no need to react or bond to something externally. Inside, all is stable and well–balanced.
Here are some questions to guide you on your journey to find calm in the chaos.
Are you prioritizing your actual priorities or something else?
Chaos and stress are often self-created. Overscheduling, overcommitting, overestimating, and pouring time into all the wrong things can leave us feeling depleted and with empty tanks for the things we really value.
Another struggle can be a misalignment of our overall priorities with our daily goals. If the days aren't building blocks for the overall structure we're striving to create, we'll finish each day feeling that it was wasted. Take some time to jot down your overall priorities – big things that relate to family, health, the kind of person we are growing into, and the kind of people we're raising our children to be. Then weave these goals into each day.
This takes daily dedication for a local mental health counselor and mom of two foster babies under a year old. "The first thing I have to remember is that I'm not a machine," she says. "My best performance may look vastly different depending on the day, and that's okay.
When I'm at home with the babies, I actively do things to remind myself that 'they are my first job today,' so it's just a bonus if the laundry gets done or the house is clean. My presence with them is my priority. Part of the way I work toward this is by involving them in my enjoyment. I read books to them that I like and spend time outside with them because it uplifts my soul.”
Don’t expect every minute of every day to be building the castle in the sky that is your life’s work, but also, don’t underestimate the little things. They are stretching you, molding you, and equipping you. Approach them with joy and thankfulness, and they will reward you with an open-handed calm that is contagious.
Are you filling all the buckets that make you whole?
There are five facets to holistic health: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual. Here is where we get to the self-care, but we’re selling ourselves short if self-care is only massages, baths, and retail therapy. The beautiful thing about self-care is that it looks different for everyone, but what remains the same is the need to take care of all parts of the whole.
One teacher, youth group leader, and mom of three in Billings has found a free, local way to get a real bang for her buck, ticking more than one of those health boxes. "My favorite way to find calm is to get outside and hike," she says. "My kids and I have discovered so many places to go! Nothing fills me as much as getting out in God's creation, enjoying the fresh air and a walk on the high plains. I try as hard as I can to build this into our weekly schedule, and I often coordinate going with friends."
A walk in any weather contributes to her physical, social, and spiritual health and prepares her for healthier emotional and intellectual interactions throughout the rest of her week. Maybe for you, it’s as simple as implementing a night of yoga, a crossword puzzle by the fire, a family walk on Saturdays, or a 15-minute break at work to read a book.
Run through the list of ways that you're taking care of your physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health regularly. What areas are you neglecting or missing out on entirely? Give these areas some extra focus and love to bring yourself back to balance and cultivate a calmer spirit that's prepared to take on the stresses and challenges of everyday life.
Are you walking alone or with a backbone of support?
Alone time is extremely important for nurturing a calm spirit. We all need time to sit with our thoughts, speak truth into our fears, and plan and dream. But if we’re always white-knuckling it on our own, we are missing the calming beauty of loving, supporting, and serving others, and the humbling peace of being loved, supported, and served by others.
“One way I stay calm in the chaos is staying connected with my closest friends," says a local photographer and mom of six. "We try to catch up with a girls’ dinner once a month (my husband watches all six kids, and I’m so thankful for him!) and stay connected in a big group text chain throughout the weeks. We share struggles, frustrations, victories, requests for prayer, and funny things that make each other laugh. Having that group of dependable friends that I know I can count on to walk through the highs and lows of life is invaluable.”
Instead of a list of resolutions this year, make a mental and cultural shift in your relationship with each day. Align your priorities, fill all your buckets, and cultivate deep and rich relationships. Find that unicorn and ride it with abandon to that castle in the sky.
Anna Rogers is a transplant from the Carolinas with a background in marketing and graphic communications. She is a wife and mother who loves to garden, cook, and practice yoga. Anna is passionate about travel, which at its core is really a passion for people, as she believes people and community are what truly bring life and beauty into a place.