The world feels hard right now. In the words of Mary Poppin’s cousin, Topsy, the world is ‘turning turtle’. When the world is crazy and chaotic, I find myself craving more peace in my little corner of it. But to find peace, I have to look inwards, narrow my focus and simplify my place in the big, and often, bad world.
There have been patches in the last few years where I’ve not looked after myself well. I’ve said yes too many times and demanded too much from myself. I’ve spent too much time scrolling and not enough time outside. In these times, peace is nowhere to be found.
Last week was one of those times. I spent almost two full days going down various internet rabbit holes and swinging wildly between ‘the world is ending’, and ‘I am a complete failure’.
My mental to-do list felt never-ending, covid anxieties were high, and I had to plan and host my daughter’s 13th birthday.
Everything felt like too much.
Thankfully, I remembered some things that helped restore my peace. When I focus on these things my anxiety quietens and I’m much less likely to swing into panic mode.
1. Rewild Myself
We are wild creatures at heart. We are part of nature and the further we pull ourselves away from her, the harder life gets.
If I am honest, most days I forget my wildness. I get stuck inside, head down writing, or doing the numerous other tasks that make up running a household.
Even on my runs outside, I’m often plugged into a true-crime podcast, instead of being present in what I’m doing.
When I’m feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, I know I need to rewild myself to find peace. I need to take intentional time outside in nature. Go for a mindful walk. Lie down and watch the clouds. Walk barefoot on the grass.
When I do this, peace comes back to me.
2. Get Offline
If I’m truly honest, most of my anxieties have their roots in technology and the internet. Just because I can check news feeds every hour doesn’t mean I should.
In his recent book, Stolen Focus, Johann Hari talks about how his usual mode of consuming news (the same as mine) was panic-inducing. When he switched to the old-fashioned mode of reading a few newspapers once a day, his anxieties reduced and his attention increased.
Our brains are at war with consumer vultures, just waiting for us to stop what we are doing and scroll.
One of the only defenses we have is to simply put our phones down. Turn off our computers. There are many ways to reduce the digital noise in your life. Try some out and see what works for you.
Practicing some form of digital minimalism is one of the most reliable ways I find peace.
3. Remember My Purpose
Purpose is essential to a happy and fulfilled life. When I find myself drifting aimlessly, at the whim of anyone and anything, I find it hard to focus and maintain any sort of peace.
If I consciously remind myself of my purpose for this week, this day, and even down to the hour or minute, I am less likely to get pulled away into something I don’t need to be.
Purpose gives us structure and meaning. It is a natural sedative to the chaos and unpredictability of the world. We cannot control what’s happening outside of ourselves but we can control what’s inside of us.
Keeping my purpose top of mind balances me and soothes my anxiety.
If you are feeling particularly anxious, ask yourself “what is the one thing I need to focus on right now”.
4. Expect less
The truth is, the global pandemic and recent events in Ukraine have affected us all to some extent. My consistent response to this has been to expect less of myself.
I cannot do all the things I would normally do pre-2000. And you probably can’t either.
The world has shifted and we need to learn to shift with it. Just like Topsy said in her song “You see, when the world turns upside down, the best thing is to turn right along with it”.
Adjust your expectations of yourself and you’ll find peace easier.
Aside from giving where we can to causes that are helping with pandemic and war-related issues, there’s not much we can do. And that’s okay. We can only ever do our best with what we have.
But you do have the ability to find peace. It won’t be found outside of ourselves though. We have to cultivate it from within.
Try one of these strategies to find some more peace in your life this week.
About the Author: Emma Scheib is a mom, writer, and lover of all things slow and simple. Her blog, Simple Slow Lovely, helps people live a slower, simpler, and intentional life, based on their values. Connect with her on Facebook.