Stress Awareness Month – How to Find Calm Amidst The Chaos

Credit: Claudia Dumond, Holistic Health Coach & Founder of Minimondo 

In today’s fast-paced world, finding moments of calm amidst the chaos can feel like an impossible task. From juggling work and family responsibilities to navigating daily stressors, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and frazzled. However, incorporating small but impactful practices into your daily lives from each of the wellbeing levers – Expand, Pause, Move, Food, Space, and Connect – can help cultivate a sense of calm and inner peace.

The six wellbeing levers take a holistic approach to our well-being, looking at both what’s going on inside and outside of us. Some, like expand, move, and space, are all about what we do and experience in the world around us—like getting active, exploring our environment, and finding ways to grow. Others, like pause, food, and connect, focus more on what’s happening within us—like taking time to relax, nourishing our bodies with good food, and building meaningful connections. Together, they create a well-rounded approach that nurtures our body, mind, and spirit, helping us feel our best from the inside out.

Embarking on a journey toward greater calm and peace involves exploring various facets of our lives, from our daily routines to our innermost thoughts. Harnessing the power of the six wellbeing levers offers a holistic approach to cultivating serenity and peace. Each lever presents unique opportunities to enhance our well-being. In this guide, we’ll delve into top tips for finding calm across all six levers, empowering you to navigate life’s challenges with grace and resilience.

Pause: Practice ‘Ujjaix’ Breathing Technique

This is my little secret to helping me feel calm, very quickly. I call this the ‘Ujjaiix’ breathing technique (I’ve combined the Ujjayi Pranayama breath regulating technique with box breathing) for a powerful tool to induce calm, relaxation and focus. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four whilst also constricting your throat to the point that your breathing makes a rushing noise, almost like snoring, hold your breath for another slow count of four, exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four whilst continuing with your ‘snoring breathing’, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen, hold your breath for the same slow count of four before repeating this process. The beauty is that you can do this anywhere, anytime. And according to the Mayo Clinic, there’s sufficient evidence that intentional deep breathing can actually calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS). If you are alone and you do have extra time, and if you’re looking for that little extra tip to melt away stress and anxiety, there’s a secret sauce I add, the amazing Therabody SmartGoggles – All this combined, will help you feel present, calm and refreshed.

Food: Indulge in Calming Ingredients

The foods we eat play a big role in how our bodies respond to stress. Certain nutrients found in foods can either exacerbate or alleviate stress levels, making dietary choices a crucial aspect of stress management. Specific nutrients known to have stress-reducing properties include magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and antioxidants. These nutrients play important roles in regulating mood, reducing inflammation, and supporting overall brain health. Examples of stress-reducing foods include leafy greens (think kale and spinach smoothies), fatty fish like salmon, nuts and seeds, berries (eye up the bright red strawberries), citrus fruits, and my personal favourite, dark chocolate (yum!). These foods provide a range of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that nourish both the body and mind. Here are some ideas for incorporating calming ingredients into your day.

While the idea of socializing may sometimes seem at odds with feeling calm, cultivating strong and meaningful connections triggers physiological responses that promote health and well-being. These responses include reduced stress levels, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced immune function, increased oxytocin release, and even pain relief. In fact, connection is at the heart of our well-being and longevity, as seen in the Blue Zones, where people live exceptionally long and fulfilling lives. These regions teach us that strong social bonds are essential for our health and happiness. Beyond just companionship, connections impact our physical and mental health profoundly. Taking cues from the Blue Zones, we can learn the value of prioritising connections in our own lives. Consider how you can nurture your relationships and build a community that fosters laughter, happiness, and safety. By doing so, you can enjoy the benefits of enhanced well-being and lower stress levels.

Space: Declutter Your Environment

Clearing clutter from your home or workspace can create a sense of calm and spaciousness in your surroundings. Take some time to declutter and organize your living areas, removing any unnecessary items that may be causing visual or mental clutter. Research conducted by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that physical clutter competes for our attention, resulting in increased stress levels and reduced ability to focus. In a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers observed that participants in an organized and clutter-free environment demonstrated increased productivity and decreased cortisol levels compared to those in a cluttered space. Specifically, the study reported a 20% increase in cortisol levels among individuals in cluttered environments. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining a tidy and organized space to promote relaxation and mental clarity.

Move: Incorporate Gentle Movement

Taking part in activities like yoga, tai chi, qigong, taking walks in nature, or swimming doesn’t just feel good—it’s like giving yourself a big hug from the inside out. These things help calm your mind and body, making you feel relaxed and centered. Plus, they’re like a natural mood booster, helping you shake off stress and feel happier. And it’s not just about feeling good mentally; these activities do wonders for your body too! They keep your heart healthy, make you more flexible and balanced, and give your muscles a nice workout. Plus, they’re great for helping you sleep better, staying healthy, and feeling more energized overall. So, why not treat yourself to some calming activities?

Expand: Find your Flow

Get into things that light you up and make your soul sing! Whether it’s painting, digging in the garden, writing stories, or jamming on your guitar, find that thing that makes you lose track of time and feel totally in your element. Doing what you love not only brings a big smile to your face but also works wonders for your mental and emotional health. It’s like hitting the reset button on stress and anxiety. So, go ahead and dive into your passions—your wellbeing will thank you for it!

It all comes back to Love.

When it comes to feeling calm, it’s all about doing things that bring you joy. Activities such as walking in nature release feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, reducing stress and boosting our mood. Simple practices like deep breathing and gentle movement also help us relax by triggering our body’s chill-out system. Eating nourishing foods and keeping our space clutter-free support our overall well-being. And let’s not forget the power of connection – it releases oxytocin, the love hormone, making us feel warm and fuzzy inside. By incorporating these practices into your life, you find the calm amidst the chaos for better wellness. So don’t forget to prioritise self-care and do what makes you feel good!

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