Finding inner peace and relieving anxiety in midst of worldly chaos.
Wow! 2020 has already been a year for the books, to say the least. If you would have told most of us that we would have a global health pandemic overlapping with the strongest racial outcry of most of our lifetimes, we would have said "nah.....thats not about to happen!" BUT, it is happening. It's happening NOW.
The past 4 months have been admittedly overwhelming for me. Trying to balance day to day life, family, kids, entrepreneurship, spirituality, and just sorting through my emotions and mental health during this time has been a roller coaster ride. I have some amazing days and then I have had some days where I'm just feeling lost and overwhelmed. I finally realized that there is nothing "normal" about quarantining in your home for almost 3 months and have been constantly sorting through ways that help to bring some degree of peace. Owning a salon where I can connect with other women during these times is definitely inspiring.
I've had major writer's block (and for content creation in general) this past month. 2 mornings ago, I woke up to God downloading the main points of this blog, so I took notes, sorted through my thoughts, and obeyed. These are NOT tips from medical professionals, so do not replace this with the advice of a mental health professional.
Here are ways I've been learning to find inner peace and relieve anxiety in the midst of all of the worldly chaos we've been experiencing:
1. Be purposeful in your pursuit DAILY.
Everyday is not going to be the same, and I've realized that understanding that simple truth allows you to be more purposeful in your pursuit of peace on a DAILY basis. I think a lot of times we think that if we plan something that brings us joy, let's say a vacation, that we will be good. NO! While that maybe the case in other times, during the times we are in now, you have to have a stronger intent on a more consistent basis. The mind is powerful, and if you don't attempt to redirect the path of your thoughts in ADVANCE, it will always lead to heightened emotions. Be purposeful to have positive thoughts and planned moments DAILY to stay on track. Anxiety is dominating during these times, so try to stop yourself from even getting to that moment by planning something daily that brings you joy. What do I do? I start my day with prayer and reflection, I carve out time to go out on the patio alone, I put my ear plugs in and turn the music up, I cook a "happy" meal, I plan outdoor activities, I watch movies and shows that uplift my mood, I read books that speak to what I need to grow in, I go to bed at a decent time to get rest, and I've also learned that saying no to those around you is ok (including your kids and family) so that you can have time alone to rediscover yourself . Don't be HARD on yourself for having a bad day though; just wake back up the next morning and try again. Give yourself the same patience and grace that you give others : )
2. Choose your spaces and surroundings wisely.
I never thought I was a nature person until recently. Being outdoors and seeing the complexity of colors, hearing different sounds, and feeling the wind blow calms me, so I've been doing more nature walks/trails, sitting on my patio, planning beach trips, mountain view cabin trips, etc. I've learned that certain people just change my mood and can stay in my thoughts in a negative way. My point: have true intent with the people you surround yourself with and the places you go. If someone you talk to brings out the worst in you or creates a negative mood, LIMIT those conversations. If a certain person on social media triggers lack of confidence or negativity within you, mute or unfollow them. If watching certain shows/movies or listening to certain music triggers things that may sadden or frustrate you, don't listen to it. If going certain places throws off your vibe or being around certain people make you backtrack on your quest for peace, don't make those choices. You have a CHOICE. You have a choice to surround yourself with positivity as much as possible. You have to MAKE that choice.
For those that are highly sensitive or creative people (like myself), creating spaces around you is important as well. I have really been focusing on creating spaces in my home that calm me or inspire me. I've been in my home for 3 years and have prioritized other things, but now that I'm in the house more due to COVID-19, having a certain aesthetic helps my anxiety. Research home decor and learn what colors, what style, and what type of aesthetic will bring you peace and honestly just JOY within your home.
3. Appreciate the little things
A lot of times lack of peace and anxiety come from constantly pondering on what you don't have and what you want. If you don't have enough money, you're constantly thinking of how to get more. If you don't have the lifestyle you want, or the husband, or the kids, or the job, etc. you take so much unrealized time focusing on what you're missing and what it would take for you to be happy. Truly peaceful people learn how to be minimalistic within their desires. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be ambitious or have desires, but you shouldn't just drown in your desires to the point that you can't be happy where you are.
I make sure I appreciate EVERY LITTLE THING. The more I realize how much worse things could be, how there are things that other people don't have, or where I HAVE been, I settle into more peace in my place in life. Constantly remind yourself of the little things you do have. Find joy in things as small as a quick meal, a song, a small purchase, a small achievement, the health you do have, etc. Remind yourself that you will ALWAYS be lacking in some way, that for most we will ALWAYS be seeking more, so why not look for the small things?
4. Practice more vulnerability and seek accountability
We were not created to be alone, so don't be on such a strong pursuit for peace that you feel that you need to just be to yourself more. When you're alone too often, your voice (other than God hopefully) is the only voice you hear, so you start to think that everything and the way you think of things is the best way. As previously stated, you just need to make the right choices with your friendships and relationships with others. You KNOW in your gut if someone needs to be in your life or if they are a bad influence to you, so when you find good people, allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to open up to people. You can't grow within your relationships with others if you don't allow yourself to open up to them so they can in turn open up to you. When you are truly vulnerable to the RIGHT people, beautiful things happen. You uplift one another and hold each other accountable. You check in, you realize common grounds.
Be open to NEW relationships. As you evolve, you may outgrow some friendships. That doesn't always mean that you should neglect those friendships, but you have to be vulnerable enough to accept that new relationships can help build you up and ground you in ways you didn't know possible, and sometimes you didn't even know was needed. It can be easy to be around the same people you are used to because it feels safe and easy. Positive new perspectives bring growth.
Whether it be old relationships that can be uprooted and replanted or new relationships that can plant new seeds and be watered, allow yourself to be vulnerable to the RIGHT people. There is peace in the accountability provided by those who truly appreciate you and care for you.
5. Seek therapy
Whew! You may not always feel comfortable to keep it 100 with those around you, and people tend to give advice from THEIR perspective and experiences. Seeking professional help is okay! Black women, specifically, are raised to be so strong, and often times raised to be so independent that we allow that to carry into a lot of paths that it shouldn't. We feel that we always have to hold it together. It's okay not to be OKAY. I think realizing that you shouldn't guilt yourself when you're not in the best emotional or mental state, is the first step. There are numerous options for virtual therapy during these times, so find the right fit for you to vent to someone who has a range of experience to help. Also, don't give up if that first person isn't the best fit. You WILL find the right fit, but you have to start somewhere. I've been to therapy before. It helped to vent, but I've learned what I need in a therapist and have decided to start again as well.
For my black women out there, here is a site I've found to help you get started on your search for a therapist:
6. Dive into your faith and spirituality
This is my last point, but CERTAINLY not the least of importance. I would like to say that I've saved the best for last. People find a lot of ways to find peace, tangible ways, and they find that it's a constant race to maintain. True peace may come from within and can be triggered by the things you can taste, see, touch, but it is sourced by God. Only he can truly answer what it is that YOU need individually, what you need to let go of, what you need healing from, who you need to release: so SEEK him. I'm sorry, but I'm going to say it....a lot of tangible things may bring you peace, like crystals, sage, etc. but they didn't make themselves. They too had a creator. I would rather be plugged in to the source than depend on batteries....you feel what I'm saying? People often say "well I tried God and he didn't do this or that..." and I often think "But did you seek him and give him as much time as you do everything else? Did you even allow time for a response?"
Life won't always be easy, faith and spirituality won't always make sense, I've tried other ways multiple times, and I still end up with a void. Get to know God for yourself, not simply through other people or just through a church that you don't trust, so you give up and never go again. There is peace and calming through his spirit, if you allow yourself to calm down enough to hear from him.
I hope this post has helped or motivated you! Be sure to follow me on Instagram @BrandyCSims