The holidays can be a stressful time of year - especially in a year like 2020! Whether you’re dealing with re-arranging travel plans or taking care of family members, you may be wishing for nothing other than just some peace of mind. But how do you find that amidst all the hustle and bustle of daily life?
First, remember that lasting inner peace can’t come from anything or anyone outside of you. It must be cultivated within. Just like any other mental state or skill, you have the ability to strengthen the “peace muscles” in your brain.
The more you practice intentionally creating a peaceful state in your mind, the easier it will be for you to feel it next time. Your brain will create neural shortcuts to navigate life from this space of calm rather than through overwhelm and stress - whether through the holidays or any other time of year. And when you gain that sense of peace, it will be much easier for you to become a source of it for others!
“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.” - Brian Tracy
Here are 7 ways you can start cultivating a greater sense of peace right now:
Care about your own peace and well-being enough to set boundaries and limits. Sometimes you may get so busy taking care of others that you allow it to leave you feeling stressed. So next time you feel the urge to give in to requests from others to do things that don’t make your heart feel warm, caring, or excited, take a moment to pause.
Are you doing these things because you genuinely want to help or because you want to gain approval? Taking a stand for yourself or taking back control of your time to focus on your needs for once can be scary. But if you don’t, you may end up stretching yourself too thin which may only lead to resentments down the road.
What is the one thing that’s been stressing you out the most lately? Take some time to journal about it. What is the worst-case scenario that you’re so worried about?
Try to look at this issue from an objective standpoint. What are the odds that this worst-case scenario may actually happen? Now what are the odds that something amazing will happen? Either side of the coin is uncertain - but there is something you can do to find peace in this.
Take some time to list your goals and intentions - the ideal scenario of how you would like things to play out. Then spend some time creating a plan B. The one thing your brain fears more than anything is uncertainty. Having a plan releases some of that mental tension and it allows you to focus your time on the things you can control instead of worrying about the ones you can’t.
Are you worried that others will judge you if you release your art, music, or ideas into the world? Are you worried what your family might say if you start a new business and don’t succeed as quickly as you would like to?
All of these fears take away your peace of mind. They rob you of the energy you could be spending on expressing yourself creatively or implementing your goals. So how can you let go of others’ opinions? Recognize that they are probably just as worried about what you think of them!
This allows you to feel more compassion towards yourself each time you feel that fear of rejection or disapproval. Simply seeing these fears as part of your humanity brings relief and gives you strength to move towards your goals - regardless of others’ opinions.
Are you still beating yourself up over a “mistake” you made in the past? Do you find your mind wishing you could be a “better” partner, daughter, mother, or employee?
Notice how so many of these ideas are simply your mind’s labels. Think about where these expectations came from. You may see that you’ve been trying to live up to society’s ideas about who you should be rather than relaxing into being your beautiful authentic self.
Forgive yourself for any perceived shortcomings by acknowledging that you’ve always done the best you knew how to do at that time. Write down what you’ve learned from your “mistakes” and use these lessons as something useful that you can use in the future. Perhaps you could even turn your pain into purpose by helping others avoid a similar mistake!
Is there anyone that you’re holding resentments against? Is there someone that’s hurt you whom you have yet to forgive? As you think about the things that you believe are taking your peace away, see if you can view the situation from another angle.
Can you perhaps see why someone would’ve done something “bad” because they were facing their own challenges? How much do you know about their present and past circumstances? Do you know how they were brought up and how this may have affected their actions?
“All attack is a call for help.” - Neale Donald Walsch
In recognizing that we all have fears, you may start to see the truth of the wise saying that “all attack is a call for help.” Noticing this layer of our common humanity might make it easier for you to release resentments and forgive. And while forgiveness doesn’t let them off the hook for what happened, it does give you back your peace of mind as you free yourself from holding onto the situation in your mind.
Who are the people that you spend most time being with or thinking about? Is there anything that you wish you could tell them but are afraid to? Is there a difficult conversation you’ve been putting off?
None of us know how many days we have left on this earth. And as cliché as it may sound, it is an important fact to keep in mind. If we don’t express our true feelings today, what if we don’t get the chance to do so in the future?
Tell someone you care about how much you appreciate them. Have the difficult conversations today instead of holding things in. Call the friends and relatives that you haven’t made time to call...just to catch up and say hi.
Make a commitment to spend at least a small portion of your day in solitude. It may not be easy to fit into your schedule but by doing so, you are bringing more peace into the life of your loved ones as well.
When you are constantly responding to everything outside of you, you never have a chance to notice that quiet space that’s already within you. Having a self-care routine that includes alone time can be like a mini-retreat that you go on every day. Even if it’s only 15 minutes in the morning, find the time to just sit and “be.”
While you’re just sitting with all those thoughts racing by, realize that you don’t have to react to them! You are still sitting there, being your beautiful self, even if that task doesn’t get checked off the list right away.
The more you notice the stillness from which you can witness the chatter of your mind, the easier it will be for you to access this stillness in the future. Through this awareness, you train your brain not to react but to respond from a more conscious space that is aligned with your intentions.
Don’t let 2021 be another stressful year – decide to put your peace of mind first. If you’ve been wanting to start or deepen your meditation practice, take advantage of the special offer on our Meditation Starter Kit: join our nourishing community for three months while also receiving FREE access to our ultimate 10-day meditation course for beginners!