We are living in very stressful times. A global pandemic, racial injustice and financial uncertainties are all happening at once. Nearly everyone is experiencing some anxiety. How can we try to maintain a peaceful state of mind amidst all the chaos? There are a number of things we can do that will help relieve some of the stress in our lives.
Meditation: Setting aside a few minutes each day to meditate is a perfect way to relax and re-charge. Just start by closing your eyes and taking several deep breaths. The idea is to lower your brain waves until you reach what is called the “Alpha” state. Alpha is that sensation when you feel relaxed, yet still aware, almost like when you’re daydreaming. Another simple practice is to do a countdown while visualizing the numbers from 10 to 1 in your mind’s eye. This helps to quickly bring you into a relaxed state. Another form of meditation is called Creative Visualization. This is when you try to picture a situation, with eyes closed, exactly the way you would like it to be. Put yourself in the picture and try to involve all of your senses. What would you be seeing/hearing/feeling if this were happening right now? It is recommended to keep your eyes closed when meditating, so you are not distracted by things around you. Ten or fifteen minutes a day is a good start. Some people prefer to meditate in the morning, while others do so in the evening. Choose a time when you can meditate undisturbed. Turn off your phone. Lighting candles and incense can help with the process. Relaxing music, with no vocals or drums, can greatly assist you in reaching a relaxed state of mind while meditating. It is best to sit upright with your back straight, while sitting in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Lying down may tempt you to fall asleep, so this is not recommended. It is not necessary to hold an uncomfortable pose or use specific hand positions for extended periods of time. You may find while you’re meditating that inspiration comes to you, or you may receive a solution to a problem you are having. A regular meditation practice not only relaxes us, but also develops our intuitive and psychic abilities.
Crystals: The subtle powers of crystals and stones can greatly reduce harmful energies around us, whether at home or at the workplace. Placing these stones on desks, tables and windowsills will invite their magical qualities. Amethyst, Rose Quartz and Lapis Lazuli are all stones that will help restore peace and calm to your environment. Place them where they will be seen by anyone who enters the room. You may also choose to wear these stones as jewelry. When we wear crystal pendants, rings or bracelets, their energies mingle with our own aura and work to neutralize influences that may be harmful to us. Black Obsidian, Moonstone and Tiger’s Eye are all protective stones that will absorb harmful energies when worn. When purchasing your crystals, it is important to cleanse them before use, as other hands have handled them before you. Simply wash them with spring water and dry with a paper towel. You may also choose to carry these stones in your pocket during the day, and twirl them in your fingers to draw upon their energies. The powers of crystals are activated through energy, intention and vibration. To activate them, hold the stones in your hands, close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state. Say, “I charge these stones to bring peace and calm to me and those around me”. In your mind’s eye, see the stones bathed in a brilliant white light. Bring yourself back to full awareness, open your eyes, and the stones are ready for use.
De-Clutter: There’s an old saying, “A cluttered room reveals a cluttered mind”. Over time, we can accumulate so many things that it’s hard to know where to put it all. Some people don’t mind the clutter because they “know where everything is”, but for the rest of us, walking into a cluttered room only adds to our stress. Do we really need all of this stuff? It is a good idea to do a purging of all the things you no longer need, want or use. If it’s clothing and it no longer fits or has holes in it, or you haven’t worn it in three months, toss it. If your bookshelves are overflowing, get a new bookshelf or pass along some books to your friends.
Sometimes our tastes and interests change, and the things we own no longer reflect these changes. Keep only the things that represent your personality and who you are now. Get rid of everything that does not bring you joy. (On the other hand, if you think you may be a hoarder, you might want to consider counseling). Above all, be resolved to keep the clutter down. You will have more peace of mind knowing that everything is organized and in it’s place.
Removing the Toxic: There are times when painful decisions must be made, and sometimes that involves removing unsupportive people from your life. They could be friends, employers or even family members. If they are not supportive of who you are or your life goals, it is time to dis-associate with them. If someone in your circle of friends is constantly putting you down, criticizing your decisions, or is generally negative and unsupportive of your ambitions, you may want to consider if this person is truly a friend. Realize your own self-worth. Wouldn’t you rather have people around you who cheer you on and encourage you, instead of tearing you down? Sometimes we make excuses for their bad behavior. “Oh, that’s just his personality” or “She’s always been like that”. Does that really make it okay? Many people hold on to these toxic relationships because they feel insecure or lonely. Removing these people from your life will greatly restore your peace of mind. Workplaces can also be toxic. Overbearing managers, workplace bullying and verbal abuse happen all too frequently on the job. This creates a great deal of stress and anxiety. Contact your Human Resources department and inform them of what is happening, and consider looking for another job. In addition, many of us have family members who are not supportive of our life choices. Some of us have been ridiculed by certain relatives because of our sexual orientation or because we follow a pagan path. It may be necessary to keep these family members at a distance and for extended periods of time.
Nature: When we lose touch with nature, we lose touch with our magical selves. By spending time among the trees and flowers on a regular basis, we can reawaken the magical fire within us. Go for a walk in the park. Put on your hiking boots and visit the nearest walking trail. Walk barefoot in the grass. Spend more time in the garden, planting magical herbs and flowers. Immerse yourself in the elements. Sit beside a stream, watch the wildlife and listen to the birds singing. Feel the wind blowing on your face. Place your hands on an oak tree and sense it’s powerful energy. Set aside time each week to go outside and recharge yourself with the powers of nature. This will restore peace to your soul.
Get Creative: A great way to bring more peace into our lives is to explore our creativity. Get out the paints and watercolors. Start a blog or begin writing that book. Learn a musical instrument. Make some candles or homemade soaps. Participating in a favorite hobby will keep the mind occupied and bring a sense of peace and accomplishment. Some people find scrapbooking to be very relaxing. Expressing your creativity will help restore peace into your life. Sing, dance, create!
Music: Listening to relaxing music is another way to bring a sense of calm. Classical, New Age or Celtic music are all excellent choices. There is also music that has Alpha and Theta pulses recorded into the music. They’re very subtle, you can’t hear them, but subconsciously they produce a relaxation response in those who listen to the music. This is also something called the Earth Resonance Frequency, a measurable sound wave that comes from the earth itself, and is has been recorded into some relaxation music. You can find it in the music of Dean and Dudley Evenson and other similar artists. If you struggle with insomnia, it is a great way to relax the mind and help you fall asleep at night. Llewellyn and Juliana also have several recordings for peace and relaxation.
Surround Yourself with Things You Love: Place treasured items and other objects that bring you joy on your desk, or in various locations where you will see them. I happen to collect pop culture memorabilia, and regularly rotate various collectibles where I can look at and enjoy them. A friend of mine collects unusual figurines and toys, and spending time with them helps her de-stress after a rough day. If it brings you joy, who cares what other people think? I know grown men who still collect Star Wars. So what? If it makes you feel happy and peaceful, surround yourself with those things. It’s a quite healthy thing to do.
Plan Your Fun: Give yourself things to look forward to, and plan ahead for fun activities. This will create an inner sense of excitement. They can be small things, like “Wednesday night I will watch that new movie” or “Saturday I’ll buy some new clothes”. Shedule a day off, maybe two, just because. Planning fun activities for yourself is a great way to help you feel more at peace and in control of your life.
Disconnect from Social Media: There is so much bad news these days, it can be overwhelming. For our own mental health, it’s a good idea to limit the time we spend on our social media accounts, or temporarily disconnect from them. You can deactivate your Facebook without actually deleting it, and reactivate it whenever you want. If you deactivate your Twitter, you have 30 days to reactivate it before it gets deleted. Sometimes we sit down with our laptops for just a few minutes, and before we know it three hours have gone by. Social media has some good qualities, such as for networking and increasing awareness of important issues, but every now and then it’s a good idea to disconnect from the madness for awhile.
Affirmations: Affirmations are positive statements you make about yourself. More effective when spoken aloud, they are a wonderful way to uplift your spirits when you’re feeling anxious. Examples of affirmations are:
I am a creative, intelligent being.
I am prosperous and successful.
I am completely healthy.
I am strong and courageous.
I am always in the right place at the right time.
When you say affirmations, allow yourself to feel that they are real and true, even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. As you use them on a regular basis, visible results will eventually begin to reflect the inner reality. Affirmations work to change your pattern of thinking and ultimately changing your life for the better.
Exercise: Getting regular exercise increases certain chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoids. These are all associated with feeling happy and confident, as well as lowering anxiety and stress. Taking a brisk walk, riding a bike or doing some aerobic activity are great ways to release these happy-feeling chemicals.
Volunteer: By helping others in need, we make our own lives brighter. Consider volunteering for a charity such as Meals on Wheels, an animal shelter or local food kitchen. There are many ways to volunteer your time. Buy some groceries for an elderly neighbor. Prepare a meal for a sick friend. Join a group that cleans up litter in a park. Offer your time as a mentor or tutor. Helping others instills a sense of inner peace, knowing that we have contributed to the well-being of someone else.
The world can seem like a scary place. It can be difficult to find peace amidst all the conflict, but these suggestions are a good place to start.