I am not a very calm person – that’s why I need calm
When I told my husband that I was planning to write a book in 31 blogs about finding calm, he gave me a long thoughtful look. Choosing his words carefully, he said, “Well, I can think of quite a lot of people who seem calmer than you.” And he’s right. I am not an especially calm person. My family will tell you that I easily lose my temper, often at seemingly small things. Plenty of things upset me. I am not a paragon of patience. I have certainly not achieved any sort of buddha-like state. So I did wonder if I am qualified to be writing this at all.
I’m just a normal person
Let’s get this straight, right from the start. The only reason I feel I can write about finding calm is that I have needed to work hard at this myself. And I still do. Every single day. The stresses of my own life – being mum to a big family, working for the NHS, having a disabled child, encountering challenging people – have driven me to explore ways to find some inner peace. Finding little pieces of calm has been essential to my survival in this demanding and crazy world.
My own need for calm has led me on a journey of discovery. Along my way I have found slow Yoga, meditation, the benefits of nature, Reflexology, gratitude practices and a host of other things. These have all helped me maintain a more or less even keel in a stressful life.
Over the last few years I have been sharing some of this toolkit with clients in my Yoga and Reflexology business. Someone challenged me to write a short book in 31 blogs this summer, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of what I have learned about calm.
Life is very stressful, especially this year
2020 has been a stressful year, right? And it’s not over yet. Any ideas we used to have about life being predictable have been tossed aside by the Coronavirus pandemic. We all had lots of plans back in January and February. Then that all got trashed, and we had the scary experience of empty supermarkets and being told to stay home. Then, just as we were getting used to a slower pace of life, everything started to re-open again and no one is sure what the rules are any more. Lots of people have lost their jobs, and who knows what the autumn will bring. Now more than ever, we all need some strategies to help us stay calm.
Everyone has difficult stuff in their lives. Maybe you have a tough job, health or money worries or tricky relationships. Perhaps you just struggle with anxiety for no obvious reason. I can’t make that stuff go away, but I hope this little series of blogs will offer you some ways of coping a little bit better. People who are already calm don’t need to find their calm space – this series is for people like me who find it difficult.
Simple daily calm breaks
I find it helps when I build regular moments of calm into my life. I try to structure my day so that I know I will have little calm breaks when I need them. And if something upsets me, I know what usually works to calm myself down again.
This month I will be sharing one simple practice or suggestion with you every day. I will be asking you to give it a try. I will do my best to make all the practices simple, accessible and taking up no more than five to thirty minutes of your busy day. Almost certainly you will enjoy some of my suggestions more than others. That’s fine. The whole idea is to give you a menu of calming ideas, from which you can choose your favourites to take into your daily life. You may also have other brilliant calming methods which I don’t talk about. That’s fantastic. Please keep doing them, and share them with us too.
Nurture Yourself Group
I run a Facebook group called Nurture Yourself Group where I am sharing these blogs and encouraging people to share their thoughts and experiences. If you are not already a member, you are most welcome to come and join the group. It’s free. I would absolutely love it if you would like to share in the group how you get on with any of the calm practises I will be talking about. It’s so helpful for me and everyone else to share what works and what doesn’t work. It’s great to support and encourage one another.
The people I care about benefit when I find calm
I have learned the hard way about what happens when I fail to make space for calm in my day. Generally I get over-tired, cross and miserable. Excessive stress means I cope badly with the unexpected. Sometimes I get angry, grumpy or ill. Often the people who suffer most are the ones I live with and care about. Finding calm is something I owe to myself, my loved ones and the wider community.
Sometimes just sitting for five minutes is enough
I’m going to share lots of ideas about how to find calm over the next month, but I aim to keep it simple. Sometimes the simple ways are the best. Just sitting for five minutes can be enough to make a big difference. I have particular places where I like to sit – a corner of my garden for warm days, and a chair in a bedroom facing a picture of a beach for rainy days. I find it helps to put my phone down, maybe light a candle, and just sit. No agenda. No right or wrong way to do it. Simply stopping and sitting can be enough to find a calm space in your day.
Try it for yourself
OK so here’s today’s challenge. Find somewhere you can sit still for five or ten minutes, preferably without being disturbed.. Take a nice cup of coffee or tea along if you like. Sit comfortably. Set a timer for either five or ten minutes. No need to be heroic and sit for longer, (unless you already have an established meditation practice and really want to!). Notice what thoughts go through your mind. Don’t try to stop them. Just sit and relax. See how you feel when the time is up.
Here’s an extra tip. If, like me, you get tempted to look at your phone when you are meant to be sitting quietly, you might like to try the Forest app . I have recently discovered this and find it super helpful for avoiding distractions. You set a timer, during which time you can’t look at your phone. When the time is up, a virtual tree has grown in your forest. But if you look at your phone too soon, your tree dies! When you have grown lots of virtual trees, the App people donate some money towards planting real trees too!
Try to fit in your five minutes of quiet sitting today, and see how it goes. If you can, please share your experience in the Nurture Yourself group on Facebook. Your feedback will encourage others.
Thanks for reading this blog post. I am writing a series of 31 blogs every day this August. I plan to publish them later in the year as a book entitled, ‘Finding Your Calm Space – 31 Ways to Find Calm in a Crazy World’.
I’m Karen. I am a Yoga teacher, Reflexologist and busy mum of seven. I live with my family in Billericay, Essex, UK. In the past I have worked as a Midwife, Health Visitor, Baby Signing teacher and Tax Inspector. I love getting outdoors, swimming in the sea, walking and writing. Helping people relax is one of the things I do best.
You can learn more about my Yoga classes and Reflexology at my website www.thecalmspace.co.uk