From CRAZY to calm in 6 simple steps (and how to maintain the calm moving forwards)
“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom” ~ James Allen
If you’re anything like me, your days (or even your life) can sometimes be nothing short of crazy. Juggling your usual routine (work, side hustle, kids, home life) can make your head spin, and the constant fight against the clock drains your energy. You feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, the kids won’t stop screaming at each other, and your list of shit to do just keeps on growing (when did life get so bloody transactional?) You’re in the middle of this crazy whirlwind, feeling frustrated, anxious, overwhelmed, miserable AF and trapped… It can be nigh on impossible to quiet (or at least slow down) your mind - there’s so much to think about, so much to do, so much stimulation in the form of technology at your fingertips. I’m feeling stressed just writing about it!
I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt like Marge Simpson on the bridge (the episode where she literally loses her shit?), or wanted to lock the kids in the garage, launch a shoe at someone in the office, or simply pack a bag and fuck off to Ibiza for a mini-mid-life-crisis, leaving the hubby and kids to fend for themselves because quite frankly you've had e-fuckin-nough!
So when we start feeling like this, it’s time to take back control and improve the situ. In order to survive (and thrive!) in a chaotic world it’s vital to find ways to come down, to deal with pressure, change, uncertainty, work stresses, kids driving you bat shit crazy, husband getting on your tit ends...
The chaos won’t end, but you can learn to become calmer in the midst of it.
Here’s a few tips that have helped me to regain my composure when I’ve been close to cracking up and flying off my rocker:
1. Put yourself on Time Out
If you’re at home with the kids, take yourself off to the bedroom / bathroom / garden - heck shut yourself in the towel cupboard if you have to, just find somewhere where you can have a minute, alone! If you’re at work, go outside if possible, otherwise get yourself off to the Ladies pronto.
Close your eyes and just give your brain a break for a minute (apparently 80% of sensory stimulation comes in through the eyes, so closing them can really help to rest your mind). Take a deep breath in, hold for a few seconds, then let out a long, loud sigh - the louder the better (pretend you’re a grumpy teenager again) as this will really release any tension. Obvs you might not want to be too vocal if you’re in the work loos and Sharon from Accounts is in there - might be a bit awks. A few deep breaths can really bring you back to the present moment. Next, time for a good stretch. Sit upright, and with your eyes closed still, tilt your head bringing your right ear to your right shoulder, until you feel a stretch. Repeat on the other side. Lower your chin to your chest and feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck. Finally stretch your arms up, out in front of you, behind you, and then out to the sides. Release the tension. Just a few minutes ‘time out’ can really help you regain some control, and every minute is an opportunity to reset and start again.
2. Set an intention
Focus on what you want to happen, or what you want to feel now (even if you don’t fully believe it or feel it yet). Close your eyes again and say it out loud (unless Sharon’s still loitering in the lavs, in which case say it in your head). For example “I am a strong and capable woman and I can handle this meeting.” “I am worthy of this job and I’m going to smash this interview.” “I’m a great mum, I’m doing a great job, and I am calm and patient.” “I am a respectable, mature woman and I will not punch Barry from Sales in the windpipe.” Or simply “I am good enough.”
I always harp on about lists, but occasionally they can actually add to our stress levels. We kid ourselves into thinking we’ll eventually tick everything off and reach this place of calm and bliss, but the reality is, as fast as we’re ticking shit off, we’re adding more to it (we’re only human!) Wherever you keep your To Do list (on your phone, on a notepad, in your head) don’t look at the whole list - you’ll get overwhelmed. Do a quick run through and choose the top 3 (or 1 or 5) most important things for that day or time period, but be realistic - don’t select more than you can realistically get done as you will be just as overwhelmed with your mini-list.
Be ruthless - what absolutely must get done today? Will the world end if you don’t post that letter, pick up that prescription or do X, Y or Z today? Once you’ve shortlisted your tasks, focus only on one thing at a time. Anxiety happens when you think you have to do everything at once! One thing at a time, and you’ll get through it.
4. Free yourself up
Cancel shit. Yep, I said it. It’s ok to cancel commitments - you are not a bad person / flakey AF / unreliable - you just have a lot on and need to free up your diary (unless it’s something that falls into the category of self care such as running club, coffee with a friend or anything that will leave you feeling great afterwards - don’t cancel that shit.) Put yourself first, and learn to say no. Our inability to say no to people or things causes us so much stress, and it’s totally unnecessary! Try writing a list of the things, people or situations that cause you stress or misery, and see how many of them could be avoided.
5. Stay in the present
Let shit go, especially stuff you can’t control (99% of the things you’re worrying about won’t happen anyway). Regarding anything else you’re stressing about, ask yourself if it will matter next week, next month, in 5 years time? Keep things in perspective. Check in to where you are right now - what’s happening now, this minute? Forget yesterday, stop thinking about tonight / tomorrow / next week - just focus on what is going on now.
6. Stop striving for perfection
Show me a perfect person and I’ll show you a big fat bullshitter. You’re not perfect and that’s okay - you are enough. You are MORE than enough. Striving for perfection and comparing ourselves to others can be draining, and just leaves us feeling like we’re not good enough, doing enough, being enough. That shit’s exhausting. The more you struggle to keep up false appearances, the more stressful situations can become. Accept yourself for who you are (and learn to love yourself because you are already fucking awesome!), and accept situations for what they are.
Let calm be your new superpower!
In order to prevent future incidents where you need to implement the above steps, I’ve included some (hopefully) useful tips below to bring more calm into your life.
- Learn to slow down. Sometimes we’re not even aware of how busy we are or how chaotic life has become. We just keep going - juggling family, work, businesses, hobbies, side hustles… our attention is often focused on so many things we can be totally unaware when we become unbalanced. Learn to tune in and listen to yourself, your body and your mind, and recognise when it’s time to slow down or rest.
- Listen to your inner you. She wants what’s best for you! We just power through don’t we, because we’re capable, strong, badass women - right? It’s like being insanely busy or stressed is a badge of honour or a mark of respect. We power through the day with coffee, we dull the misery or push down the stress with comfort food, and we 'relax' with a glass of wine or a gin at the end of the day. But we’re only doing ourselves more harm. Don’t let work or food or wine (or whatever) muffle the voice of your inner BFF telling you to slow down and take better care of yourself.
- Invest in your health. Eat well. Get your endorphins flowing with regular exercise. Carve out time for rest and relaxation. Don’t drown your sorrows with food, wine or gin. Limit caffeine. Stop being a people pleaser. Invest in self care. Do more of the things that make you happy. Tell more people to fuck off.
- Limit negative self-talk. Don’t get caught up in habitual, self deprecating negative talk, even if it’s meant in jest (“I’m the worst mum ever...” or "I'm such a fat cow...") It’s fairly common amongst mums in the playground these days, possibly as a way of bonding, and I’m guilty as charged! The same applies to work or any other area of your life - get rid of thoughts such as “I couldn’t do that” or “Someone like me wouldn’t be able to achieve that.” What the mind believes, can be achieved! As the saying goes “Change your thinking, change your life!”
- Forward planning. A bit of planning never goes amiss. Whether you sit down on a Sunday and plan for the week ahead (work, childcare, extra curricular activities, life in general) or whether you prefer to plan each evening, for the day ahead. Plan your meals for the week and get a big shop delivered. Know what you’re doing each day and what your goals are / what you want to achieve or get done each day. Know what social occasions, events or meetings you’ve got coming up so they’d don’t surprise you last minute. Most importantly, ring fence some time for yourself - book a yoga class or block out an evening for a bath and an early night.
- Get off your phone! Seriously, get off it. Taking regular time off the grid can help keep your stress under control. I’ve been doing this myself and I’m genuinely feeling the benefit. Set yourself a limit i.e. phone use during work hours only, then it goes away once the kids are back from school. Try switching your phone off for the weekend (Friday teatime to Monday am) or at least removing social media apps so you have a complete detox every weekend - it’s bloody brilliant! Ban phones in the bedroom, and instead of late night social media scrolling try reading a good book or journalling - writing down your thoughts can be so therapeutic!
- Get some sleep sista! I don’t need to elaborate on the benefits of this one - you already know why it’s vital for physical, emotional and mental health.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say no to people, things and situations. Your time is precious so (and I can’t emphasise this enough) stop doing shit you hate! Put YOU first.
- Learn to have fun again. Embrace your inner child - get dressed up at halloween with the kids, hop on their scooter or whizz down the slide at the park. You’ll feel amazing, and it’s a great way to bond with the kids again after being a miserable, naggy cow all week.
- Do something you love. An art class, going to the cinema with friends, a trip to the theatre, a spa day, a horse riding lesson....(insert 100 other things here).
- Simplify your life. See forward planning. Plan your day/week. Switch your phone off. No work on an evening / weekend. Take regular breaks. Don’t overfill your diary. Bla bla...
- Be your own BFF. In a difficult situation, ask yourself “How would my best friend, sister or parent support me and help me in this situation? What would they say?” Alternatively flip it around and think what you would tell your best mate / sister / mum if it was them in that situation. Being your own BFF means seeing yourself how the ultimate best mate would see you, being your own biggest fan and biggest supporter, and loving yourself unconditionally - flaws and all.
There you go, now I’m a life coach. Now I’d better go and practise what I preach!
I hope you enjoyed this (and thank you for reading it, if you’ve actually made it to the end, it's a bit of a long un'). I wish you lots of calm in this crazy old world!
Much love, Fran xxx
If you liked this, you may also like “The importance of planning in life so you can smash your goals”
“25 ways to start Bossing life now”
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Wife to a very lucky husband. Mum to 3 beautiful little boys. Gym, yoga and self care enthusiast. Lover of food, coffee, wine and gin. Self confessed bookworm and book hoarder. Advocate for keeping the magic of reading alive for today’s children. And last but not least - Writer (currently trying my hand at kids fiction and rhyming stories). Thanks for visiting my site - expect to see posts mainly related to reading and writing, with occasional musings about family, parenting and life in general. Oh, and plenty of book reviews! Hope you enjoy! Much love, Fran x