It’s that time of year where things can get a lil crazy and we may find ourselves feeling more overwhelmed than usual. There’s a buzz about the place as people finish up the year and prepare for holidays, Christmas lunches and crazy amounts of gift wrapping.
So how does one keep a sense of calm or tranquillity amidst this hustling bustling vibe? The task of cultivating a zen inner world can be difficult for many of us at the best of times, particularly those of us prone to thinking or as some might suggest ‘over-thinking’ (I despise being told I think too much!). With all of this extra Christmas 'cheer' and intensity it’s incredibly easy to tip into overwhelm.
We've all got our go-to tactics for difficult times which can provide a temporary sense of focus, control, calm or happiness. The problem with these handy lil avoidance tactics is that they can rob us of the opportunity for true inner calm and joy and are often not great for our health, relationships, finances etc.
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
The truth is that behind each coping behaviour is a drive to avoid uncomfortable feelings. It's important that you know that you are sooo not alone in trying anything to avoid your feelings. My friends and clients are also telling me that they are struggling with the intensity of uncomfortable feelings and in particular, the sense of being completely overwhelmed.
This has led me to create a simple guide for cultivating a genuine 'inner zen', the guide can help us to no longer rely solely on tactics which can only provide short lived relief.
3 Hot tips for cultivating 'inner zen'
Pray, Nope I'm not getting all religious on you but I do want to invoke a sense in you that this is a truly powerful tool for connection with yourself and to help you to be the creator of your own life experience. Call it what you like, I'm callin' it Prayer.
How to Pray (inner me style):
Begin with a few deep breaths.
Reflect on how you wish to experience life and how you would like to feel on a daily basis. Imagine this desired feeling as if you are experiencing it now. Connect with it and allow it to grow, you may even see it in your imagination.
Breathe gently, slowly & deeply and imagine you're breathing in the essence of the qualities you desire- almost as if they're a colour or a beautiful fragrance.
To enhance the feeling you might visualise what the experience could look like. Once you can sense your desired feeling(s) sit for a while and enjoy connecting with this beautiful energy you've invoked, become familiar with it.
The final step is to simply intend that it is true in the future too. Once you have done this once you can re-connect to the feeling any time, it's particularly great if feelings of overwhelm are creeeping up. NB You may like to do a nice meditation first to help you to connect with a sense of calm- particularly if you’re feeling the frazzle.
Gratitude, Take a look around your life and create a mental or physical list of what you are grateful for. It doesn’t matter how big or small the things on your list, the benefit is in being able to recognise the things you value in your life.
“It’s not joy the makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.” - Brene Brown
Be Honest, Make an honest assessment of what’s important to you and what’s not, ie. do you REALLY want to go to that party you’ve been invited to or are you dreading it? Would you rather stay home and read a book? Do you feel compelled to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts to keep people happy but feel stressed about struggling financially? Is there another way you could express your love for people at Christmas time that won’t stretch the budget?
Whatever the stressors might be that are contributing to how you’re feeling, take time to reflect and be honest with yourself, without judgment. The next step is to decide whether to push forward in a direction that feels uncomfortable. To help in making a decision, consider your options and see if there's a more comfortable fit.
Once you've had a good think make a bold decision to support yourself 100% and do what works for you- without guilt!! It feels amazing to make yourself #1.
As always I love to hear from you- share your thoughts and insights in the comments.