…and you can’t see your way out
Learning how to stay calm through life’s chaos can be a difficult lesson — but one that’s vital for helping you to find the future you were meant to live.
Severe chaos means something different for each person — but it almost always involves a tough life circumstances.
Whether you find yourself, or a loved one, facing a life-threatening diagnosis, a broken relationship, or other news you never expected to hear, you might be in the middle of one of the hardest seasons of your life.
No doubt about it…
When your life is in chaos, it’s easy to just slip under the covers and ignore it, hoping it will go away.
Take it from me, it won’t.
I’m the ignore-it-til-it-goes-away type of person. But there comes a time in life (and laundry) when you really have to deal with it.
So here are 5 ways to stay calm when your life is in serious chaos
1. Understand the Process of Processing
Each new season of your life brings with it plenty of opportunities and experiences, even when the season feels like you’ll never see the end.
Although each season is different, the process of understanding and moving through the situation is the same. Psychology Today notes that six distinct stages have been found as people pass through seasons in life. It is vital for you to note that these are quite different than the stages of grief, even if those may come in to play.
The stages of transition are:
The emotions you feel at each stage, as well as the way you cope with them, will be vastly different than the way someone else might react under similar situations. That’s OK!
This is due to the differences in personality, characteristics, and previous experiences of each person.
For instance, if you have a strong support system, with caring friends and family around you at each step, then you will process the chaos in your life one way; however, if you feel abandoned or isolated, then you’ll handle the stages in another way. Again, that’s OK.
Regardless of these emotions, knowing where you fall on this transition spectrum will help you anticipate the next step while recognizing both your current situation and the way you’ll progress through it.
Reflect deeply on the way you’ve handled challenges in the past. Although they might not have been as weighty or challenging as the one facing you right now, you made it through that difficulty.
You can — and will — do so again!
2. Take up Training
There are plenty of studies about the positive effects exercise and movement can have on stress, depression, and anxiety. If the situation causing the chaos you’re experiencing isn’t one that would prevent you from physical exercise, then even the smallest physical exertion can help you cope with the challenging situations of your life.
The Mayo Clinic says that any kind of exercise will help you relieve stress and better manage your emotions, feelings, and unbearable moments.
In fact, anything from yoga and swimming to walking, Pilates, or Crossfit can spark the chemical process in your brain that will help you stay calm in your chaos.
- Exercise creates endorphins. The famous line in Legally Blonde was more than just a catchy quote that’s been turned into memes and athletic apparel. Exercise does give you endorphins, which do make you happy. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that give your brain the fantastic feeling that’s also known as runner’s high. The feeling, though, can come from any kind of exercise.
- Rhythm and routine create relaxation: There are times when you just need to get your mind off of the situation. Undoubtedly, it is the reason so many people find solace in running, walking, biking, and other activities that gets them into a set groove. Keeping the cadence and focusing on the repetition gives you a welcome distraction from your emotions at that moment.
- Boost your brainpower — and your self-confidence, sleep, and mood.The benefits of exercise are many. Even if it feels like there is much work to be done to overcome your situation and the stress that usually accompanies chaos. Taking time for yourself allows you to set aside the worry, anxiety, stress, and troubles for a period of time. When you’re done, you’ll feel better physically and mentally.
3. Find a Sounding Board
One Harvard Business Review study focused on the stress that an employee might feel in the workplace, and the principles they present translates to every arena. Life’s chaos compounds when you add in job stress and other commitments. When combined with the piece of news you received that shook your entire life, you might feel completely lost and overwhelmed.
The study recommended remedies on two separate levels of communication:
- Start with yourself: Stop letting the voice in your head rule your life.When you feel that your internal dialogue is trying to run the show, put it in its place, and give yourself positive affirmations that remind you of your strength, ability, patience, and wisdom. Remind yourself of similar situations that you’ve successfully maneuvered in the past and allow yourself to take a break from the stress.
- Find someone who cares: A trusted confidante can be a critical piece of the puzzle. When you choose to share your struggle, you have someone that can help you stay focused on the future and your goals — someone who can give you advice and can be there when you’ve hit an especially painful or difficult patch of the chaos. Make sure you pick someone who can be trusted to keep your moments and emotions private.
4. Choose Your Attitude
Whether you pick the famed “attitude of gratitude” or you just opted to find something positive in each impending moment, being upbeat counts a lot.One study found that:
When you think about success as being the ability to not only pick yourself up after a devastating situation but to move forward, then you realize that attitude is a huge determinant of the outcome.
This means you don’t just accept the situation, but you analyze the circumstances too.
Instead of taking the situation for what it’s worth, you make a decision each and every minute, to take the next step and move forward.
Of course, you’ll have to take an honest inventory of the situation and your role. Rather than letting yourself be a victim in the chaos, you prefer to take control and decide your own future.
I know it can be hard. There might be very little for which you can feel grateful, because a diagnosis of a serious illness, a broken relationship, or a shocking event that has changed the trajectory of your life can initially seem like the worst thing that can happen.
See if there are any aspects of the situation for which you might be directly or indirectly responsible — and only take responsibility for those things. You can’t control other people, your environment, or the consequences of someone else’s decisions, so let go of the guilt and other emotions surrounding those factors. You can only be in charge of yourself — and you should be.
Like water off a duck’s back, let the words and actions others say and take against you roll off your back and take care of yourself. After a long look at the situation and the surrounding events, you might find that you can learn something; perhaps, you might discover a new purpose in your life.
5. Write Your Life Stories
Much has been written about the power of the pen.
The purpose you discover might be in helping others overcome a similar situation. Taking the time to write about the chaos can help you transfer those emotions from living and active parts of your life to parts of your chaos that you can now control.
Freewriting, poetry, and letters have all been found to be good therapeutic modes. Only freewriting, though, has the power to help you heal and find peace and freedom while creating a work of writing art that can do the same for others. It allows you to put a name to your feelings, discover the root cause for your emotions, and move past the pain.
I know that you might feel like you’ve been punched in the gut because the news you received is something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Learning how to stay calm in serious chaos, is the vital tool that will help you improve your life.