This world is fast-paced, it’s quick, and chances are, you’re facing some sort type of stress or anxiety. (All of us are.)
Regardless of your age, sex, race, occupation, or life experience, worrisome moments can and will affect you at some point. You can be the calmest person, centered on your goals and hopes for the future, or you can be the most scatter-brained individual, struggling to get through—no matter who you are, at some point you’ll have a hard time finding a sense of inner peace. Unfortunately, this is human. And being human is hard.
But there are ways to overcome the stress and anxiety of our work, relationships, and daily circumstances.
Sometimes that’s through the physical: exercise, stretching, learning to breathe. Sometimes that’s mental: seeking mindfulness, slowing down, and being intentional. And sometimes it’s a combination of things that allow us to zone out the craziness and focus on what we need.
Here are some strategies for creating a deeper sense of inner peace in your life, for wherever you are and whatever you’re facing right now.
1. Listen to your body, really listen.
Every wellness guru preaches ‘listen to your body.’ But what does that exactly mean?
For each person, this is different. Some people may feel called to pay more attention to their feelings. Others may be encouraged to think deeper about mealtimes, exercise, or sleep routines. At the core, though, listening to your body isn’t complicated. The idea is that you’re focusing more on your individual needs, rather than letting the world tell you what’s right for you.
Think about what’s giving you stress. Do you need to take time away from work? Do you need to go for a walk during your lunch break to reset your mental energy? Really pay attention to the things that create more anxiety, or situations and places where you feel at ease, and work on following those signs from your physical and mental self.
2. Assess the relationships in your life and the community you surround yourself with.
As hard as this may be to hear, who you surround yourself with says a lot about who you are/are becoming.
For years, I’ve been the biggest advocate for the idea that your ‘tribe’ doesn’t define you, simply because we’re all individuals. However, as I’ve gotten older and realized more about toxic relationships and how they shape our sense of self-love and self-worth, my perspective has shifted.
Although it’s good (and healthy, even) to have friends that are different than you, it’s equally as valuable to assess how those relationships are impacting your energy. While it’s not bad, per se, to have a friend who believes or thinks something the total opposite, you have to pay attention to how those perspectives, opinions, ideas, etc. are potentially causing you more strain than necessary.
Bottom line: You don’t want to be surrounded by negative, toxic, or unsupportive people.
There’s a big difference between, for example, someone who is an Atheist if you’re a Christian vs. a relationship where one person’s beliefs are being disrespected. A friendship with opposite values and faiths can totally work! But if one person is continually bashing on the other’s beliefs or trying to shift what the other person thinks and feels, then that’s where the toxicity comes in.
If you want to achieve a deeper sense of inner peace, you have to take a hard look at your relationships and distance yourself from people who negatively influence the energy you want in and around your life.
3. Ask yourself the hard questions.
Am I happy? Am I doing what feels right and aligned to my goals and heart? At the end of the day, am I walking down the path that’s bringing me the most joy and hope for the future?
These are just a few of the hard questions. And as awkward, confrontational, or confusing it may be to ask yourself them, it’s fundamentally important for your inner peace. Asking the hard questions forces you to take a deeper look at your life, your goals, and the person you want to become. And it helps realign you if you’ve gotten off track.
4. Face the things you’ve been avoiding.
What’s truly been bothering you? Is it an item on your to-do list that you keep putting off? A confrontation you don’t want to have, but you know you need to? Is it as simple as a pile of dirty dishes in the sink? As big as a breakup you’ve been skirting around, but know in your heart is right?
You can easily bring yourself inner peace when you acknowledge what you’ve been ‘shoving under the rug’ or trying to ignore. Even though it may be difficult, challenging these obstacles head on will help you declutter your mental space and leave more room for what’s truly important.
5. Do something that you’ve wanted to, but have convinced yourself otherwise.
This is the same idea as ‘do something that scares you.’ When we challenge ourselves to do something outside of the norm, we recognize our potential, we become stronger, and we shift the way we see the world.
Find something that you’ve been wanting to do, but for whatever reason have held yourself back from. This can be as simple as talking to your crush, or as crazy as jumping out of an airplane. Regardless, empower yourself to let go of all inhibition and just do it.
6. Spend time alone.
There is so much power and strength in learning to be alone.
When we’re alone, we learn things about ourselves that we wouldn’t with anyone else. We spend time really focusing on our needs and desires. We live a little more selfishly, which helps us make future decisions aligned to our goals, perspectives, and ideas. And we mentally and emotionally heal, as well as prepare ourselves to let others fully in.
7. Take time to do things without any electronic devices.
Finding inner peace comes from drowning out the world sometimes. Sign off. Unplug. Disconnect. Whenever possible, leave your phone at home and immerse yourself in the moment.
Although our phones and electronic devices are incredible in the ways that they connect us with others, we’ve become far too dependent upon the mental stimulus they give. Disconnecting keeps us from constantly being caught up in comparison and self-doubt and allows us to be more present in the moment with the people and things we love.
8. Create a routine to ground you, and a plan to also break it.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, creating a solid routine can help you tremendously.
As humans, structure helps us adapt. By creating organization tools like schedules, to-do lists, and planners, you give yourself stability, which in turn promotes inner peace.
On the other hand, it’s also equally important to give yourself opportunities to break routine. Going through the same day-to-day motions can bring about peace, but challenging yourself will keep you mentally strong, too.
9. Move your body in some way every morning and night.
Exercise is fundamentally important for your mental health. Even if it’s something as simple as taking a dog for a walk twice a day, do it. Moving your body will reduce your stress, distract your mind, and keep you grounded and centered.
10. Express yourself through a creative, intentional medium of your choosing.
Self-expression is a beautiful, natural remedy for stress relief. Whether you’re a painter or writer, photographer or sculptor etc., find moments every single day to express yourself.
Finding (and pursuing) these healthy means of self-expression will not only help difficult situations to feel more manageable, but they will show others what you’re experiencing and allow them to support you in your journey.
11. Pray and/or surrender your worries to the universe as often as possible.
Whether you’re religious or not, this can apply to you. When you feel that you’re in over your head, surrender yourself to the universe.
Understand that there is so much you can’t control, and it’s not your job to. Give your worries to your higher power, to the wind, to fate—and let yourself rest in the truth that you will be okay.
Although it may feel impossible to find inner peace amongst the chaos, know that things will turn around. And keep fighting, keep believing, keep going.
Featured Image Credit: Luis Quintero