25 Ways to Invite In Calmness

You’ve probably been told you’re under too much of it. You may even daydream (at least a little) about how much better and happier your personal world would be if only you could find that magical remedy to eradicate it.

Who could blame you? There is no shortage of messages that call upon you to purge it from your life, cautioning that, if you don’t, your health, relationships, work life, creativity, and connection to source all will suffer.

But stress–that dreaded “s-word”–is a fact of our human experience. To pretend it doesn’t exist or that it’s possible to escape it is to live in a delusional fantasy at best. While we may succeed in keeping stress to a minimum temporarily, it’s only a matter of time before another cyclone of chaos comes twisting into the picture, threatening to tear the facade off our serenity.

The reason stressful situations can never be truly avoided is that we simply can’t control every outcome, nor can we control what others do. We can only control how we choose to react in each moment.

By examining your self-talk and actions in response to a trigger, you absolutely can steady your emotional course. But, if you’re like most people, even that can be difficult to remember and successfully implement 100% of the time.

That’s why, instead of combating stress like it’s a fiendish adversary (a battle we’re destined to lose anyway), what I prefer to do is invite in more calmness. By this subtle shift in intention, I set myself up for something I can actually achieve.

25 Ways to Invite in Calmness | Jill of Ark

Want to try it yourself? Take some inspiration from this list of 25 of my personal favorite strategies to evoke more peace and contentedness in challenging times:

  1. Get creative. My doctors have shared with me that creating art can actually rebuild neurological pathways to bypass physical pain, depression, and anxiety. I’ve found that pulling out some paint brushes, color pencils, or clay switches off that panicked analytical brain that keeps cycling through potential pitfalls of the problem and turns on the one that can manifest new possibilities and solutions.
  2. Journal on gratitude. Writing a few pages about what is going right in our lives can train our minds to see the positives of the current reality instead of just the negatives.
  3. Go for a walk. Besides raising endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good hormones), getting our bodies moving also gets our emotional and spiritual energies moving freely again after being constricted by all that physical tension we’ve been carrying. I like to take my dogs with me when I walk because they require me to be fully present in what I’m doing.
  4. Take a warm bath. Water is nature’s purifying force, and the act of immersing ourselves in it can have a profoundly cleansing effect on our moods. I visualize my bathwater absorbing all my regrets and frustrations and funneling them down the drain. Ahhh…
  5. Light a candle. Light can also transmute negative energies, plus that dancing flame can mesmerize you into a trance of inner peace. Just make sure you never leave an open flame unattended, and also make sure your candle is the clean-burning kind so you’re not breathing in chemicals and perfumes. (My friends make these awesome natural, hand-poured soy candles, available here.)
  6. Burn sage. Letting the smoke of white sage leaves (or other herbs or resins) fill the room is a cleansing ritual that can be traced back to several ancient cultures. Since I burn sage before every session I facilitate from home, repeating the scent at any other time rapidly anchors me in that same sense of groundedness and security.
  7. Diffuse essential oils. Setting up my favorite diffuser with a soothing scent transforms my room into my own little sensory sanctuary. (You’ll note from my heart links page that I’m partial to Young Living Essential Oils. I have their gorgeous Rainstone Diffuser.)
  8. Call a friend. Giving voice to fears and frustrations often loosens their chokehold. I think we all sometimes need a kind, non-judgmental someone who’ll listen, remind us how we’re not alone, and reassure us that we’re going to be okay.
  9. Pick up a pleasure read. Getting lost in a good book can transport us us into another world where we can forget the worst of our woes, at least temporarily. I keep a list of titles that were recommended by friends in a Google document so I can pull it up anywhere.
  10. Meditate. Closing our eyes and focusing on our breath even for just a few minutes can help reduce the physiological impact of stress on our bodies. Since trying to hard to meditate “properly” often has the opposite effect for me, I keep this super simple with a 4-4-4 pattern:  inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 4.
  11. Cook something yummy. Similar to creating art, concocting a delicious dish satisfies multiple senses (and pleasure can be an effective antidote to stress). Since I get a little cranky when I’m hungry, feeding myself a wholesome, healthy meal also improves my mood beyond whatever stresses I’m confronting.
  12. Clean/organize. Taking charge of our environments can help us feel more empowered in other areas of our lives as well. Plus it’s easier to relax (and stay relaxed) in a clean house.
  13. Listen to music. Any music we enjoy listening to can boost our moods, but when I’m actively seeking more calmness, I opt for meditative, worldly instrumentals. Pandora One’s Calm Meditation station is frequently streaming in my office.
  14. Be near water. Negative ions are nature’s stress relievers, and they’re found in abundance near water. Sitting by a lake, waterfall, or even just a little bubbling stream induces calmness no matter how crazy things in my life feel.
  15. Make noise. Drumming or rattling is used in shamanic healing to break up blockages or chase away negative energies, but we don’t need any special initiations to benefit from the practice. A special drum or rattle isn’t required, either, since our bodies are equipped with our own instruments. Clap, snap, chant, scream–whatever it takes to facilitate feelings of release.
  16. Dance like nobody’s watching. This one requires no explanation. Even with a chronic pain condition, allowing my body to express herself through some gentle, fluid, rhythmic movements (on her own terms) always seems to lift my spirits.
  17. Draw Tarot or Oracle cards. There are many different philosophies on working with divination decks, but I see them ultimately as a means of accessing our own subconscious minds. Therefore, asking a question like “what do I need to learn from this situation?” or “what do I have the power to change right now?” and drawing a couple of cards almost always leads the way to a helpful insight. (See some of my favorite decks here.)
  18. Sit with my animals. There’s a reason why studies have found that having pets can reduce our risk of heart disease and other life-threatening conditions. I’m blessed to have so many furry caretakers at home who will eagerly trade their healing forces for a few minutes of my undivided attention.
  19. Get pampered. Treating ourselves to something we thoroughly enjoy is an act of self-love that can ignite feelings of pleasure and well-being. While a massage, spa treatment, or mani/pedi can be nice, my favorite feel-good activity is to spend an hour at a local café with a book or my journal and a pen. I love good coffee, I love the smell of good coffee, and I love having a trained barista make me that perfect latte I can never replicate at home.
  20. Take myself on an “artist date.” From participating in Julia Cameron’s self-study course, The Artist’s Way, I’ve come to appreciate my inner artist child and how much she appreciates the gift of my time and attention. Choosing to forgo my adult obligations for an hour or two while I indulge my curiosity and creative whims may not make problems go away, but it definitely recharges me to better deal with them.
  21. Smile. Our emotions may trigger our nonverbal signals, but our nonverbal signals can also trigger corresponding emotions. I typically don’t have to hold a smile–even a feigned one–very long before my tension melts away.
  22. Sip a warm beverage. A warm beverage can be an instant soul-soother. Just don’t load it up sugar, which can throw your body even more out of balance, especially when it’s under stress. Herbal teas and hot water with lemon are my usual go-tos.
  23. Hug someone. Exchanging an extended hug with a loved one increases our oxytocin and serotonin levels for a natural mood lift. Hugging is also a great way to reconnect with your partner after a stressful argument.
  24. Use my Amethyst BioMat. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have access to this incredible device, which synergistically combines far infrared light, negative ions, and amethyst crystals to promote relaxation and pain reduction. (Learn more about it here.)
  25. Go to bed. When all else fails, going to bed brings instant closure to the current day. Waking up to a new day doesn’t guarantee things will be different than the day before, but it’s often a lot easier to face those challenges after a good night’s sleep.

Since no strategy can help you welcome in calmness if you forget to actually invite it in, set yourself up to be ready for its company on a moment’s notice. By creating your own list of favorite self-care activities and keeping the tools necessary to engage in them easily accessible, you’ll be prepared to nurture yourself in just about any emotional climate.

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