Firework in the night sky

Even in chaotic times, we can still make a fresh new beginning. We can still learn, improve, and move forward. It doesn’t always feel that way though. More often, it feels like we’re moving backwards or sitting still and completely frozen. But, if we make the effort, we can make forward progress, even during the most chaotic times in our lives.

When things are swirling around us, when we’re having to juggle more than our usual number of things, or when things don’t go as planned and we have to readjust our plan entirely, how do we find creativity? How do we hold onto our dream of being __________ (You fill in the blank) when life is up in the air? How do we stay centered, calm, and focused on what is really important to us, rather than getting caught up in the craziness of what may be going on around us?

This is partially a call for self-care.

Many times, less is more. Doing less, but being more focused, is better than doing more and being less focused on any one thing. This is a good rule of thumb anytime, but especially during times when things are shifting in and around us.

Sleeping when our bodies need rest. Taking time to sit and clear our minds for a bit. Taking a walk or doing a little movement of some sort. Eating what we know our bodies need, rather than always grabbing quick junk food. All of these things help our bodies and minds to run more efficiently. (I’m preaching to the choir with all of this. Don’t think that I’m putting this out there for you all to do and I’m not in need of it myself.)

If you take care of yourself then you have more to give to those around you. You have energy to put into finding and living that dream. Just because you’re busy, or life has shifted completely, doesn’t mean that you need to lose sight of where you really want to be in life. These things can slow us down for a spell, but they don’t have to stop our forward progress completely.

To keep your mood high, your mind clear, and to keep that forward momentum, even when life gets crazy, try doing some of the things that help me.

Do something at least once a day that makes you smile. Something that you do just for the fun of it.  

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time for fun, I have too much to do.” It doesn’t have to be a long time. Start with 5 minutes. It can be stressful working, then going to the store, home to cook, and getting everything on our to-do list done. If you can’t spare 5 minutes, then at least make what you have to do fun. While you’re driving, listen to fun music rather than the news for a change. Listen to a funny podcast. Or turn the radio off all together and just enjoy the silence.

Watch a funny video or look at funny pictures.

Brandon Farris is one of my favorites to watch when I need a little break. He never fails to make me laugh. Or watch Mark Borella’s videos on Instagram. You can’t help but smile when you watch him. He’s so passionate about what he does.

I have a board on Pinterest called “A Laugh a Day” that has all kinds of memes, photos, videos, and jokes. Look at mine, and/or make your own.

Read a book, or an inspiring story in a magazine or online.

Even if it’s just a few pages at a time, it will give your brain a break. The goal is to steer clear of anything serious or heavy. Find something that is light-hearted; something you can read and just turn your mind off for a bit.

I always have at least two books that I’m reading at any given time. One is more serious, something that I have to pay attention to, that I want to learn from, or that has a lot of plot twists. The other is something that I can read and not really think about it. This way, I can always pick up a book and read a few pages, a few chapters, or whatever I have time for, and not be overwhelmed.

Take a nap.

It has been proven that even cat naps can improve your mood and mental well-being. Honor your body’s need for extra rest during chaotic times. Times like these often cause stress, and that stress wears more on our body and mind. You may find yourself more tired, not necessarily because of what you’re doing, but because of how much you’re trying to cram into one day, and how much emotion and thought you’re putting into it all. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know why I’m tired, all I’ve been doing is sitting around all day”. My question is, what were you doing while you were sitting around? If you were having hard conversations, trying to beat deadlines, worrying, coming up with something creatively, problem solving, or doing inner work on your feelings and emotions, those things can zap our energy. This is true, even if we’re not moving around a lot physically. On the flip side of this…..

Get some light exercise in.

If truly all we do is sit around and “veg out”, or if we sit a lot for our jobs, it makes our bodies feel stiff and stagnant. Our bodies were created to move. If we don’t, we feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz when he first gets oiled after years of being stuck in one place. You don’t have to do a hard and heavy workout every day, but try to get in some kind of movement every few hours. Even if you just get up and walk around the room, swinging your arms to get the blood flowing again, this will help your body to feel better. Shoot for balance.

I sit a lot, doing research, writing, and reading. Throughout my day I try my best to do some sort of movement at least every 2 hours; even better if it’s every hour. This helps me not to feel like a crumpled-up ball of aluminum foil when I finally do get up and start moving around again. A few of the things that I do are: Tossing the Stone or (what I call) the Washing Machine (shown here at about minute 8:45), stretching, Tai Chi, Qigong, walking, and sometimes I even put music on and dance around like a crazy person.

Write; in whatever way that seems fun to you.

Write in a journal to get ideas out of your head before you go to bed. This will help you to sleep better. Write a little short story about something. Write a letter to someone. For more ideas, read our post all about writing.  

Watch how others do things.

This is something that most people don’t do. Or they don’t do it without judging. Watch how someone else wraps a present or loads their groceries into their car. We can learn from others and find new ways to do things. Sometimes we may even find easier ways to do things. Most of us are stuck in our own routines and we don’t ever search for new ways to do things. Even if we know our old ways aren’t working, we are more comfortable staying set in our routine than making the effort to change things because it’s familiar.

Stepping outside of your routine will open up new pathways in your brain, it will give you a chance to improve, and it will open up your creativity.

Whatever you choose to do, give your mind at least a little while each day to recharge.

This allows that little voice inside to be heard. It allows you to make decisions based on what you really feel you should do, what you really want to do, versus making decisions based on being tired and overly emotional. It allows you to stay in a space where you can handle anything that is thrown at you, versus constantly being stressed out. It allows you to see the beauty in life, versus seeing only the bad.

Embrace the chaos.

The best thing we can do is to embrace what is going on around us and learn roll with it. If we spend our time trying to fight what is going on, complaining about how we wish things were different, we just end up being more stressed. On the flip side, if we go with the flow, take what is happening and always find the positive or find the lesson, it lowers our stress levels drastically. Accept that it is a chaotic time and adjust accordingly. Accept that things may be out of your control and do what you can with what you have.

I like to think of it like being in a snow globe.

Randomly, someone comes along and shakes my snow globe up. Things that I had gotten used to – where things were, how things are done, how I spent my time – are all up in the air now. Because of the things that I practice on a daily basis (self-reflection, Qigong, Tai Chi, Journaling, etc.) I am rooted. I watch as things swirl around me, and then as they begin to land. As the little snowflakes begin to land, I can adjust and find a new way of doing things.

This imagery helps me to put things into perspective when life happens. I can sit back and say, “well, my snow globe is being shaken up again”, and it helps me to feel calmer about the things happening around me. I’m not saying that it makes everything perfect, I still sometimes get stressed throughout the process, but seeing it in this way gives me the ability to see that everything will be ok. This has happened many times before (in different ways), and I’ve always been ok; things have always worked out.

What creative ways do you use to stay calm, centered, and focused on your dreams when chaotic times arise, when your snow globe gets shaken up?