Finding Peace in Turbulent Times

Woman with eyes closed looking calm finding peace

This year has been a bumpy journey for nearly everyone.

For many, it’s been more than rough. It’s been tumultuous, painful, and loaded with fears. Piled on top of the never-ending coronavirus concerns, we’ve been navigating political and social unrest and the strains of what feels much like living in a bizarre version of The Hunger Games. It takes quite a strong emotional fortress to not only survive the emotional chaos, but to feel peace within it, and to maybe even (dare I say) thrive.

So how do we bolster our emotional immunity to not only withstand the pelting of chaos, but to invite more calm, peace and self-compassion?

Is it possible to endure pain, loss, the strain of separation from normal social interaction (that we took for granted for so long) during these turbulent times?

I believe it is possible and it’s up to each of us to build habits that strengthen our hope, faith, coping strategies and mental wellness so that we can find peace within ourselves. And bolstering our emotional health often empowers us to make better physical health choices as well.

We all have our 2020 battle stories to tell, but we’re now on the edge of a brand-new year.

And like every new morning, there is a beautiful newness, a chance for optimism, the promise of hope that comes with starting over. And who doesn’t welcome a lighter, fresher start after the heaviness of this past year?

The power is in this present moment

Spiritual authors and leaders tell us the secret to happiness is to be more mindful, more present in the moment. Not to dwell on yesterday, nor to focus too much on tomorrow.

The past and the future are not under our immediate control. But how mindful we are in this now moment, is.

For me personally, I’m so grateful that I’ve been on a transformative personal growth journey these last few years that has completely changed how good I am able feel in the moment and has radically impacted how able I am to stay heart-centered in peace while coping with emotional chaos.

In years past, I would have ended up physically sick with anxiety and worry. I would have lost appreciation for what is good as I drowned in tension and fear over what has gone wrong. No more.

It is possible to feel peace, acceptance, hope and even appreciation – amid turmoil.

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” – Wayne Dyer, self-help and spiritual author

As we move into the last few weeks of this very bumpy year, consider trying these suggestions when you feel yourself sinking into negativity, getting caught up in drama, and smacked down emotionally. Hopefully they will help you find peace during this time of chaos.

 

Watch your mouth

I’ve been reading and listening to many mindset and spiritual leaders and this has really stuck out for me in the past week to share with you. The language we use, both spoken and in our heads, matters – so watch your mouth!

“The words we speak to ourselves affect our emotions, motivation, and potential accomplishments.” – Gustavo Razzetti, Leadership speaker, psychologytoday.com

Our overall mental attitude matters, but more specifically, the words we use can dramatically change our perspective and can be a key to finding peace.

Words are the basis of our communication from the time we are babies. Words are intimately tied to how we express ourselves. It’s nearly impossible to “think” without words. And which words we choose can deeply affect our brains and emotions. Haven’t you felt the immediate impact in the sting of harsh words or the warmth in loving words directed at you? Simple words can bring tears of joy or tears of hurt.

Example: I was driving back home from visiting my mother in the hospital last week and the things the doctor told me were swirling in my mind. The directions, the instructions, the diagnoses, the medications, the therapies, the host of things that I was now going to be responsible for handling regarding her care when she would be released from the hospital. On top of the other things going on in my day. I felt so overwhelmed. I heard myself saying “I can’t do this. I just can’t do this. There is no way I can handle all of this.”. As I started to tear up and I felt the tension and emotional chaos of the past few days well up in my heart, I remembered how important my words were.

I changed my narrative immediately.

I can’t…” serves no one and nothing. It is limiting and defeating language. It makes sense that we would feel even worse about the situation if we are telling ourselves we can’t.

When you feel yourself spiraling downward in emotional chaos, try to become aware of your language.

Try switching your words to “I will, I can”, i.e. I will do the best I can. I will handle things as they come. I can cope and do the most good if I stay in the emotion of love and compassion rather than fear and anxiety. I can ask for help. I will manage what I’m able to. I will stay heart-centered and in a feeling of peace over what I can’t control. My switch to these statements brought me immediate comfort, palpable calm, and peace over the rising overwhelm.

 

Dig into breathwork

Your breath is so important. Nerves and tension can literally take your breath away. Ever notice during times of stress how you’re breathing seems to constrict and become shallow?

“There is no single more powerful, or more simple, daily practice to further your health and well being than breathwork.” – Andrew Weil, MD

Feeling anxious? Stop and take a few deep breaths. Focusing on your breath can help you snap out of the tension and relax your mind and body.

Visualize summoning your power and strength back into your core using your inhale. Imagine that your exhale is blowing out and clearing negative energy and worry. Allow yourself several deep restorative breaths to bring you back into a deeper heart-centered place of peace, rather than allowing rampant thoughts to rule how you feel.

 

Flex your gratitude muscle

Gratitude is not swallowing the difficult emotions and pretending everything is ok. Gratitude is a way to refocus your misery, to shift your energy. You can still feel and process the painful emotion but choose to channel your energy toward working your way out the tunnel toward lightness. Gratitude is not a substitute, it’s an aid. Think of it like a road map toward healing (and finding peace!).

You’re visiting the hard emotions, but you have gratitude to GPS you forward to feeling more at ease and peaceful.

“Gratitude unlocks the presence of happiness and peace.” – Gabrielle Bernstein, motivational speaker, best-selling author

Develop a gratitude practice: Write down a few simple things (even ONE) that you appreciate and feel thankful for. This is the start of getting positive energy flowing. When you think grateful thoughts, it’s like getting off the anxiety-highway. Gratitude helps you regroup, refuel, rethink, reassess, (breathe) and find ease.

Cultivate a morning or evening habit of writing down one or two things that you can appreciate about your life or about yourself. Try numbering a page in a notebook from 1 to 31 and begin in January making note of one thing per day that you appreciate about life or about yourself. Reread the list nightly. I know it seems a little silly, but it works.

A gratitude habit shifts your mind to productive, peaceful, heart-centered emotions. It helps you find perspective and can unfurl the emotional tangles in your heart and mind.

Cheers to adopting strategies that help you with finding peace (especially during the holiday season)! May you find more optimism and hope in your heart despite living in these incredibly turbulent times.  – Marlene


 

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Looking to dig deeper into how to use journaling to reduce anxiety and feel better? Check out Journal to Joy, my self-paced online course designed to show you exactly how to journal for the greatest emotional transformation (in just 10-minutes a day!)  Details here.

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Finding Peace in Turbulent Times

  1. Beautifully written. I am working on the “I can…I will” versus “I can’t” affirmation. I relay this to my students as well. Thank you.

    1. Thank you! It’s a process, right? Just as long as we keep moving forward… learning, evolving, reminding ourselves of how powerful our thoughts truly are. <3

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