Being Mindful in the Midst of Chaos
Each one of us has a host of stresses that we deal with. At work, at home, in our relationships, and in our own head. This blog is a place for you to consider new ways to handle that stress in a mentally healthy way – with mindfulness and self-care.
While you’ve probably heard of both these terms, you may not be completely familiar with them. So before we move on, let’s define them:
Mindfulness: The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
Self-care: the regulatory function which is under individual control, is deliberate and self-initiated.
When it comes to being aware, and in control of your mental health, mindfulness and self-care go hand in hand. Before you start taking steps to control the way your mind reacts to chaos and difficult situations, it’s important to learn how to be conscious of the chaos and how it affects you. Then, you can take measures to mend or re-direct your cognitive process.
Historically, we haven’t—as a society—been taught to give our mental health the attention it deserves. As a result, we’ve learned to sweep issues under the rug, grin and bear it through toxic relationships, and overload our schedules because we’re afraid to say ‘no.’
Whether we’re born into families with difficult people, or we find our way to them through friendships, partners, or co-workers, it’s challenging to know how to best respond to someone who brings negativity and unhappiness into our lives.
One of the first things you can do is realize that the behaviors being presented to or reflected at you are NOT your fault. The way that others cope with THEIR feelings is part of their mental health and is not a reflection of who YOU are.
Consider how differently two people might react to breaking a drinking glass. One person might throw a fit, while the other might calmly pick up the pieces and move on – each is a reflection of the person’s mental wellbeing and ability to cope with their own feelings. So I challenge you… which one are you….how would you respond to a broken glass. Would you have a fit, or clean it up?
Do you recognize any of these 3 key areas that may be keeping you stuck in Chaos?
1. You are a reflection of the 5 closest people who you surround yourself with.
One of the most important aspects of being mindful in the midst of chaos is taking measures to eliminate as much of the chaos is possible. Oftentimes, the source of chaos and negativity comes from the people we choose to surround ourselves with.
While we can’t control EVERY interaction we have, when it comes to our regular interactions, it’s our job to develop firm and clear boundaries about what we will and won’t tolerate. Whether it’s a gossipy co-worker, an overly-critical family member, or a toxic romantic relationship, eliminating interactions with people who bring DOWN your good energy will leave room for more positive energy to enter.
2. Not all friendships are meant to last forever, and that’s fine.
While you shouldn’t casually discard friendships over minor arguments or inconveniences, you should grant yourself permission to move on from relationships that no longer nourish and support you.
If you feel exhausted just by the idea of hanging out with someone, it’s probably a sign that you should move on.
3. Friends are hard to part ways with, but family members are even harder.
One of the best recommendations I can offer is to set limits on the amount of time you wish to spend interacting with toxic people. Make sure to keep any conversation positive, pleasant, and focused on that person.
By keeping the focus of conversations on them, you’re purposefully keeping yourself safe from unwanted drama while maintaining the relationship – if that’s what you want to do.
Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.
Here are 7 action steps to add mindfulness into your life!
1. Learn how to say “NO”
In order to cut down on chaos in your life, you’ve got to make it a priority to keep your plate filled with the right amount of work that your mental health can handle. Many times, this means learning how to say ‘no.’
Sure, you might feel guilty the first few times you turn down the people who ask you for favors, but it will get easier with time. As you practice, remind yourself WHY you’re saying no. Offer those reasons to the person if you feel comfortable doing so, and remember that by saying ‘no’ you’re in turn saying ‘yes’ to things that you DO want to spend your time and energy on – because there’s not enough time to do it all!
2. Learn the line between being polite and saving yourself from a stressful conversation
Here’s a tip: Spending 5 minutes chatting with a person is polite, 10 minutes is more than enough – any longer than that, and you have every right to excuse yourself. However, if you feel that you’re in danger, or if the person is acting racist, misogynistic, or obscene, just say, “Excuse me, I’ve got to go,” and walk away.
3. Refine your space
You know how much a physical space can impact mental well-being. From a cluttered bedroom to a poorly-lit office space, the spaces that you spend time in directly impact our psychological health.
My three favorite ways to make a space feel better? Ditch the clutter, add more light, and adopt a plant.
While you’re refreshing your space, bring in colors, pictures, quotes, and anything else that brings you a little bit of joy when you look at it. If you’re at a loss for where to start, try creating a ‘mood board’ filled with pictures of things that catch your eye throughout the day, walk through a fun furniture store, or create a Pinterest collection.
4. Spread some Positivity
Take the time out of each day to do something kind for someone, compliment a stranger, or just share a smile.
5. Combat the negative Self-Talk
Next time you look in the mirror or start thinking destructive thoughts, stop and list out a few things you’re grateful for.
6. Physical Exercise does help
Whether it is meditation, yoga, breathing exercises. Physical activity can help alleviate the stress in your life and get those good endorphins running!
7. Start a daily journaling practice
Speaking of journaling, one of the best ways to train your brain to think more positively is to practice gratitude regularly.
Gratitude rewires our brain, so we become more likely to focus on the positives in the world than the negatives. We’re not going to become ignorant of danger if we appreciate the positives for a little while, but we will become more open to the good.
Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.
Sometimes the best way to practice self-love is to learn how to enjoy your own company. So take yourself out to a movie or dinner, or if possible – a solo trip. Once you learn how to love and cherish yourself and your worth, everything else will fall into place.