remain calm: how i chill out

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Recently I have found myself in panic mode 90% of the time, which is pretty exhausting.  Like you babes I'm a busy girl with far too many amazing things happening in my life to be exhausted by anxieties 24/7.

I've always lived a pretty mindful life, I eat a clean diet, go to yoga, etc etc... but those things alone weren't providing enough chill in my life.   Below I am sharing activities I've implemented  into my daily routine and that have helped my quality of life.  

meditate

I began meditating each morning a few months ago as an attempt to cure my morning anxieties.  Every morning I wake up, the first thing that crosses my mind is everything that is happening that day and everything I have to accomplish.  I am instantly hit with a stomach ache and a heavy feeling in my chest no matter how simple or complex the day ahead of me may be.  

I starting using the headspace app and used it for about a month straight for a 10 minute meditation each morning, but tbh I didn't want to pay for the subscription and have transitioned off that app.  Instead I have been taking a few minutes each morning to do my favorite breathing exercises.  I love alternate nostril breathing, breathe in with one finger over one nostril, switch fingers breathe out the other, as well as counting my breathe, inhale for 4 exhale 8, or even inhale for two exhale for two.  I find that counting allows my mind to focus on the numbers and I am less likely to jump into my racing mind.  Some days breathing on my own doesn't cut it and I will turn back to the headspace app or look up a meditation on Youtube for extra guidance.

After I do my morning meditation I feel much more centered and present.  My stomach ache eases away and I feel like I can breathe fully.  The best part is it really doesn't take any time away from your day, I know I would be spending those 5-10 minutes laying in bed scrolling through Instagram in total panic mode so I may as well spend extra time in bed doing something to better myself.

journal

It is probably too soon for me to say this is something that is part of my routine as I just am getting into it this week, but journaling.  I was part of a nike workshop this past week where we sat down and took time to write down our goals, places in our lives of balance and of blocks, and what we believed and I truly felt so centered and connected to myself.  Lately I have been struggling with feeling disconnected from my sense of self and find myself floating through everyday motions so this exercise had a very grounding effect on me.  

Since that workshop I have been taking a bit of time to free write in a journal. I don't think I have ever sat and wrote freely about my feelings or even acknowledged my stream of conscious for an extended period of time, so this exercise has been very therapeutic for me.  When I first sat down I googled "how to free write in a journal" because the thought of doing something so simple seemed incredibly challenging for me.  I tend to start my entry with my current surroundings and it tends to flow into some dramatic, existential few pages but after those thoughts are down on paper they stop swirling around in my head.  I am able to connect back to the present.

make lists

I love lists.  Everyday I make a list for the day ahead of me, what do I have going on today and what do I need to get done.  As soon as everything is on paper I realize that the 'million' things I have to do is really about six simple tasks.  I often rewrite my list multiple times throughout the day, cross things off, add things in, make small sub-lists for more complex tasks, but they all have the same effect on my mental clarity as the master list.  

At the end of each day I make a list for the next day, what is my workout going to look like, where do I have to go, what did I not accomplish today that I will complete tomorrow (and not panic that it didn't get done), etc.  To be honest there are a million theories on how to tackle a to do list. I tend to do it in the order that is written because most likely the thing I am most stressed about will land itself first on my piece of paper, and I will feel the most accomplished when that task is complete. 

take a break

I always giggle about how awful I will be feeling, in tears all day, a total mess, my life is over, etc...and I will leave the house for 30 minutes to get myself my favorite matcha and then be completely fine, happy even.  Taking an hour or so from your day to chill out, treat yourself to something you love, or spend time with a friend is the opposite of a crime.  You will be more productive when you return back to whatever you were doing before because you have a sense of clarity from simply taking a break. 

When my day gets really rough I decide to call it early, take a shower, put on pajamas and watch reality TV.  If you're sitting at your laptop in an absolute state of panic you probably aren't getting anything done anyways.  Get rest, let your mind slow down, and eat something nourishing.

*Obviously I'm not a doctor and am only speaking from my past experiences! Just felt like I needed some kind of disclaimer here.

Dani McGowan