Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

9 Ways to Find Serenity In A World Gone Mad

serenity + peace in stressful times

When I read about the unrelenting work demands at a company like Amazon, I’m convinced the world has gone utterly insane.

You can work as hard as you want, but eventually you’ll discover that a healthy balance between activity and quiet is essential for a happy and sustainable life.  Too much busyness will eventually lead to a breakdown of one sort or another, as illustrated by the experience of some white color workers interviewed in this New York Times exposé of the brutal and bruising work environment at Amazon.

Accidents, injuries, and minor illnesses like the common cold often seem to arise when your life tips out of balance.  You might brush these warning signs aside, but the body and the heart refuse to be ignored indefinitely.  Eventually, stronger and deeper indicators will arrest you once again.

Life Is Meant to Be Lived in Cycles

Nature shows us that life is meant to be lived in cycles.  When we look around, we see there’s:

  • Day and night
  • Spring, summer, fall, and winter
  • Babyhood, youth, young adulthood, mid-life, old age

Each of these natural cycles lends itself especially to either activity or rest. Think of hibernation in the winter and flowers bursting forth in the spring.

Although modern life gives us the capacity to dismiss these cycles thanks to electric lights and temperature control, more and more we see the folly of doing so.

I know it may not seem easy to embrace periods of relaxation in a world dominated by 24-hour opportunity and ruthless demands.  Your body and brain may be primed to high activity or you may fear reproach, especially in work places like Amazon where a less than human corporate culture prevails.

But you must take a risk if wish to restore balance and sanity in your own life, and take a stand for kindness, peace, and joy in this world.

9 Simple Ways to Find More Serenity

Here are some simple and random ways you can take the breather you so deserve.  They’re not necessarily new or groundbreaking, but if you’re not prioritizing balance, these reminders may be just what you need.

1. Media Fast

How much does reading, listening to, or watching the news really benefit your life?  Devouring the news can become an automatic habit that’s never questioned.

Unless the news is essential to your work, try a media fast and see how it feels.  You could start out with one day a week and slowly build up. Or you could dive in and take a week off.  Most importantly, avoid the news in the evening and especially before bedtime.  You’ll probably sleep more soundly.

Personally, I don’t think it best to avoid the news forever.  Social awareness and responsibility are integral to living a compassionate life.  But an occasional media fast can dial down too much angst.

2. Email Cleanse

These days almost everyone online baits you with free offers from weekly newsletters to e-books to mini-training programs that will magically transform your life.  This abundance of information can clog your email inbox making it difficult to see or find what’s really important.  But even worse, it clogs up your mind with the unnecessary and the trivial.

Take an hour to skim your inbox and unsubscribe from any information streams that no long add to your education, enjoyment, or personal growth.  Alternatively, you could unsubscribe one at a time, whenever a new edition hits your box.

3. Sunrise, Sunset, Starscapes

How long has it been since you enjoyed an expansive moment of peace and wonder as the sun brought forth or closed a new day?  Lately, I’ve enjoyed marveling at the night sky.  Don’t miss out on this food for your soul!

4. Smile

Often, we’re so caught up in our own thoughts that we barely notice the people around us.  Instead, get out of your head and flash a heart-felt smile at the check-out clerk in the grocery story, the stranger standing next to you on the train, or the person bustling by you on the sidewalk.

Smiling at others always makes me feel happier.  I bet it will make you feel happier too.  Here’s why:  Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers that also counteract stress, and serotonin, a substance that makes you feel good. Smiling may also increase immune function, extend your longevity, reduce your blood pressure, and increase focus and productivity.

5. Breath

Breathing from your diaphragm (belly) helps you to quickly relax .  Place your hand on your belly and slowly breathe in while you feel your abdomen expand.  Then slowly exhale.  Repeat several times.

The breath is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to relieve stress. People caught in the cycle of stress often take shallow breaths.  Gently deepening your breath alters your biochemistry for the positive, bringing you more peace. Since it’s always with you, the breath can be your most reliable ally for creating a more relaxed life.

6. Slow Down

What kind of message are you sending to your body and your brain, when you always rush about like there’s an emergency at hand?

Instead:  Slow down.

Walk mindfully.  Savor your food.  Give your full attention to the person who’s speaking to you instead of fiddling with your phone or computer.  Pause between tasks and take in your last accomplishment, as small as it may seem.  Allocate twice as much time as you usually do for a particular task.

You don’t have to operate in slow motion like you’re walking through glue.  Just slow down your pace a bit and see if it brings more serenity into your life.

7. Subtract

Are you doing too much?  Naturally, you’ll feel off-kilter if you are.

Why do we do too much? Often, the tendency stems from deep-seated childhood patterns. It could be due to insecurity, the need for affirmation, or a desire to please or impress. Our entire identity may resolutely rest on how much we accomplish.

Remember you are worthy! You don’t have to prove yourself by doing too much.

Make a list of 3 activities, commitments, or engagements that you would like to let go of.  Take one out this week.   Once you succeed, take a break, and then move on to the next.

Read more:  Embrace Simplicity and Ease Through the Art of Subtraction

8.  Morning Peace

Research shows an early morning increase in stress can continue all the way into the afternoon.

Alternatively, you can begin the day from a place of calm by letting your digital devices wait.

Don’t reach for your phone the minute your open your eyes, turn on the news first thing, or jump onto Facebook.   Any one of these activities can spike your stress level if you happen to witness distressing stories or receive a disturbing message or call for action.

Give your body and brain a chance to wake up first.  Then enjoy some peace and quiet before exposing yourself to the affairs of the day.  If you can wait an hour or two before engaging in the digital realm, so much the better.

9.  Doses of Humor

I’m a big advocate of mindfulness, but that doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time.  It’s widely known that Norman Cousins claims to have cured himself of a painful illness through watching funny movies and television programs.

I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. – Norman Cousins

Why wait till you’re sick?  Give yourself a regular dose of humor as a means of preventative medicine starting now.

I recommend the French movie “Paulette” for full force comic relief.  It has English subtitles.  My all time side-splitting favorite is “Ms. Congeniality” with Sandra Bullock.

What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?  I would like to make a collection like this list of 33 Happy Movies to Light Up Your Heart, so be sure to leave your favorite in the comments.

Take Your Life Back!

Don’t be duped by the so called rewards of an exhausting Amazon style work life.  Chances are you’ll just end up burned out, disillusioned, and maybe even super sick.

Take your life back!  Decide on a pace of life that’s right for you, the perfect blend of stimulating activity and relaxing recreation.  You deserve to live a long, healthy, and happy life.

So what’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?  I would love to hear in the comments.  And if you have any secret tips for achieving serenity, please share those too!

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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26 Comments

  1. What an excellent post–we all need reminders to do these things (unfortunately).

    One of my favorite movies is American Dreamer, with JoBeth Williams and Tom Conti. Some very funny moments, some intrigue, some romance. Lots of fun. I also love Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Michael Caine, Steve Martin), and Support Your Local Sheriff (James Garner). Oh, and one of the funniest things I ever saw was One Foot in the Algarve, which I think was a Christmas special from the British TV show One Foot in the Grave. Just noticing that all these are fairly old…time to update my list, as well!

    • Thanks, Kathy. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t think I’ve seen any of those! Thanks for the suggestions. I hope you’ll find a fewer new ones as people share in the comments, too. Thanks for taking a moment to share.

  2. Lovely post – I definitely need to ‘subtract’ more right now. I’ve told myself I will do this for the month of August, but now I just have to choose what to subtract!

    • It’s terrific that you have a time period set, Ellen! It will be interesting to see what you choose to subtract. Maybe it will be a little fun too. Good luck with this! Would love to hear how it went in September.

  3. These are wonderful suggestions Sandra.

    Although No. 9 doesn’t come to me as easily as the rest, it is most definitely on my radar these days. I don’t make much time for movie watching however I did enjoy the biggest of belly laughs just last week, taking our newest edition to puppy school. It was quite a sight and I’ve haven’t laughed so much in a long time 🙂

    • Belly laughs! That’s the key, isn’t it, Liz. However, they come, they’re great. I can imagine it’s not easy to make time for movies with a family and your own career. I didn’t watch movies for several years, but I’m back into the groove. Confession: I even enjoy children’s movies like Finding Dory and Ice Age 2. I’m glad you had that good laugh and I hope you have many more.

  4. Funniest movie I’ve ever seen – hmmmm. I loved “Bridesmaid.” It’s a little raunchy, but I love that it’s women-centered and gives the female sense of humor an opportunity to shine.

  5. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions, Sandra. I especially like the “morningPeace.” I meditate first thing in the morning. I find it helps set the tone for the rest of the day.

  6. Suzie Cheel

    Yes I need too subtract especially my email box that piles up when I am sleeping 🙂 Morning peace is so important and such a special part of my day. Smiling is so important and It never ceases to amaze me the number of peoplee who never smile xxoo

  7. Great suggestions! I absolutely need an email cleanse….i just can’t keep up with the mails.

  8. I SO badly need an Email Cleanse!!! So badly its not even funny! 😉
    So your ways here will help to push me just a little bit in that happy serene direction.
    xoxo,
    Z~

    • Yeah! It seems like a number of us are in the same position. Make we can ride the momentum of each other’s inspiration to do that e-mail cleaning! Good luck my dear.

  9. Hi, Sandra

    We really need this post to re-adjust ourselves daily. If we don’t do that, we will be be off track.

    I just did a post on laughter. It is one of best medicine for cure with no side effect. Due to the stress in our modern life, we forget to smile and laugh.

    I particular enjoy to take a walk in sunset. I always feel that sunset is a reward from God for us to being working diligently for our assignments.

    My two cents for maintain my serenity is to learn to concentrate today only, forgot yesterday, and leave tomorrow alone.

    Thanks for the post.

    Stella Chiu

    • I really enjoyed your post on laughter, Stella. I agree, it’s the best medicine. I think you advice on staying in the here and now is a worthy addition to this list! Thank you for that.

  10. Email cleanse is part of my quarterly ritual Sandra and I unsubscribe if I receive 3 promo emails in a row. 🙂 I removed the internet connection on my Blackberry way back in 2009 to take back control of my offline time. It surprises friends but they know that I value my time and I’m less stressed without pattern interrupt. 😉

    I remember our little email chat about noise earlier last week. Having disciplined myself over time to spend 1 hour max on social media a day has brought back some sense of a normal life. Having a pet who has to be taken out and taken care of also helps to maintain perspective on what the really big tickets in life are. Loved your tips.

    • I’m in awe, Vatsala. You truly have a good handle on your various digital realities. I love how disciplined you are about this. Yes, I value quiet too. You have such a sweet pet! I have three kitties and they do set the record straight too.

  11. Morning peace…so essential for me…otherwise I automatically reach out to my laptop and that’s how my day starts. Morning meditation with my darling one…works best for me.

    The e-mail inbox is another matter all together!

    There are days Sandra when I simply don’t want to deal with emails at all.

    As for the subtraction…I’ve decided to give myself one day, yes one whole day, ever week to ignore the internet.

    Online news, tv news anything other than a quick skim of the newspaper is out of my life. The negative energy was too much to surround myself with.

    Your post has really made me think of other ways to stay balanced, thank you.

  12. Deidre

    All important (and oft forgotten) necessities to balance. Thank you for sharing. My only (tiny) issue, is #5. I think you meant “breathe”? 🙂 Enjoy your day!

  13. Still reading, but wanted to alert you to a typo in the beginning where it walks about the workers at Amazon. It should say white collar, not color, right?

  14. Loved these tips! Greatest reminder for me was the deep breathing. My life is at a pretty easy pace. I decided long ago that shuffling my kids around to more than one activity per week was over doing it. I know my limits!

    This post reminded me of a similar one I wrote in January: How Not to Get Boggled Down by Motherhood Distractions. I love taking mini Facebook boycotts. Those are always challenging and force me to seek other media outlets, which generally lead to creative breakthroughs.

    Silencing the noise and distractions on a regular basic is something I find challenging, but I’m learning. I don’t have my email attached to my phone. I have to use my PC for that. And I always turn my phone off in the evening, at bedtime, so text messages or other notifications don’t disturb my sleep.

    I have FB notifications off, so I have to physically log into the app to check them. Little things like that keep me serene – partly. 😀

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