• Gina

Calm the Chaos

2019 was a year of tough lessons for me personally. It was the year I decided to go all-in and it didn't quite work out as I had hoped. Even though we may not want to admit it, mistakes and failure are a part of life. We can choose to let them get us down and derail us from going after our ambitions in the future or we can simply look at them for what they are: an opportunity for growth.

I'm going with the latter.

My #oneword for 2020 is #transform. Thus far my focus has been calming the chaos in my mind. In the past, I stretched myself too thin and wanted to save the world in one fell swoop. Guess what? It didn't work.

While I've taken a major step back the past few months, I feel like the progress that's been made in just the 8 short days of 2020 is definitely the beginning of positively transforming my mental health. What might you need to do to lessen the chaos in your mind? Here's what I'm focusing on. Perhaps it will be helpful to you.

-A consistent bedtime. I am utilizing the bedtime app on my iPhone. It is set for 11:00 and the alarm is set for 7:00 in the morning. 8 hours of rest. We can try to go, go, go as much as we want, but we need rest. Try it!

-A daily brain dump. Most experts will suggest a "brain dump" in the evening before bed so the thoughts rattling around in your head are out on paper and not keeping you from sleep. For me, my mind doesn't race in the evening. Instead, the minute I stir in the morning, my brain fires up and goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. I have chosen to do my brain dump in the morning. It clears the chaos and is allowing me to truly focus in on what needs to be done and what can wait. It has been so, so liberating!

-Working off of that brain dump concept, I have once again begun to create a daily to-do list. I had stopped for awhile, because it became a source of major agitation for me. I would have this list of tasks I wanted or needed to accomplish and life would happen. I'd look at that dang list throughout the day and want to rip it up by day's end because very little had been accomplished. One Sunday, our pastor shared a great tip during a message about being less busy: only put 3 items on your to-do list. This simple change is infinitely better than my previous method of creating a long list, crossing items off, and adding more. I stick with my 3. If I complete them, I then look at my brain dump to see what I could add to my day. I do not add them to my list. Instead, I view it as an opportunity to get extra task completed without the stress. It may seem like a small, insignificant change, but you guys, it's amazing!

-Reading and absorbing the material I'm reading for growth. I have been known for plowing through non-fiction material, particularly when the content really resonates with me. While I feel invigorated and ready to get to work when I finish, the lack of time to contemplate and truly absorb what I've read prohibits the growth I'm trying to achieve. This is one of the reasons I started the Parent Empowerment Groups online book club. With the focus being on one book for the month, I feel like I've given myself permission to slow down, take notes, and really dig into what I'm reading. This month's pick, The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman is the perfect book to adopt this practice. I have noticed in conversation with friends, and my own contemplative moments throughout the day, my thoughts will go to the content I have read. I can pinpoint my thoughts and truly apply the points I highlighted in the book in my everyday life. The lesson here? Slow down. Contemplate. Absorb. Apply.

-Lastly, I'm learning to breathe. When I wake up and my mind starts to race, I breathe to slow down. When my kids are overloading my sensory system with their volume and big emotions, I breathe before I speak to redirect them. When I feel completely overwhelmed with all that needs to be done before we move and the anxiety I feel over this transition, I breathe. Slowly. In and out. Nothing fancy. Just enough to re-center myself and move forward with as much calmness and grace as I can muster up in the moment.

If you're human you're going to encounter chaos. If you have a family, you're going to encounter immensely more chaos.

There may be days when you walk out of the house to head to Target and realize you never changed out of your pants you only wear around the house after you've walked nearly the entire store (I have NO experience with this whatsoever...ha!). It's okay. Breathe. Try to clear out some of that chaos in your brain.

There may be days where the kids are sick, your spouse is traveling, and you have no idea how you're going to make it to bedtime. Just breathe. Pretend you're in one of those Russian nesting dolls and find the smallest, quietest space in your house behind as many doors as possible. It will take the kids longer to find you and you may just get a few minutes to yourself.

There may be a day when the biggest ambition you've ever felt the need to fulfill takes over your thoughts and you just don't know how to turn your dream into a reality. You know in your gut you must follow this dream, but become paralyzed with fear and doubt when you fail. Breathe. Don't give up. Speak your dreams to anyone who will listen. Put it out there in the universe. Quiet yourself and listen. One day it will work out, it just may not be in the way or timeframe you imagined.

Chaos is all around us. It is a part of life we all must endure, but what steps can you take today to quiet some of the noise taking up space in your mind? While the ideas I have shared with you today work for me, they may not be for everyone. Take some time to jot down ideas that may help you create some calm and quiet space in your life. Pick one and give it a try. Calm the chaos.

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