Every life has waves. There are times when it’s slow, sometimes delightfully so and sometimes painfully. Then there are times when things are quite fast. Opportunities come pouring in and as long as you’re balanced and centered, you can handle everything that comes your way. However, what about those times when life feels like it’s moving full steam ahead and all you want is to hide under the covers? What to do then? Well you have two options. Sink or swim. So how can you stay afloat? Here are six tricks to riding the waves of life when the pressure is on:
1.) Get Grounded
Grounded, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “Well-balanced and sensible.” How do you stay in this place when the world is swirling around you? The first step is to feel the earth under your feet and connect to your body. Tune into your family, your food, the activities that bring you present. Find ways to connect to your roots and express gratitude for everything you have in life throughout the day, especially when you wake up and when you go to sleep. This connection with your base will allow you to stay centered and level in order to face whatever comes your way. Think of a tree. Those whose roots are planted firmly in the earth are much more likely to weather strong storms than those who are not rooted solidly in the ground. They’ll be torn up and blow away with the wind. What activities, things, spaces or places make you feel grounded?
What practices or attitudes make you feel solid in yourself and in your place in the world? Cultivate these practices and implement them on a daily basis. Other physical practices for grounding include Yoga, Qi Gong, running, eating root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, etc.) or other low growing vegetables, nuts and seeds. Tea and warm water is also another way to ground down your energy throughout the day.
2.) Remember to Breathe
Many times when something exciting happens (good or bad) we stop breathing. It’s the first thing to go. Think about that phrase “It took my breath away.” Well actually, as exciting as that proposal or surprise might have been, you really don’t want your breath leaving you any time soon. Our breath is intricately linked to our thoughts, feelings, emotions and, subsequently, our actions. When you let go of your breath, you let go of your center and your ability to think clearly. As life speeds up and things move quickly (family, work, travel, etc.) always remember you have a choice in how to react to things and thus play a conscious part in the way you engage in your reality.
Many have heard at this point of the benefits of positive self-talk and phrases. Think about an athletic coach cheering on someone preparing to or actually running a marathon. They will use phrases like “You can do it!” “Just a little bit further!” “You can win this, no problem!” Not only do they inspire you but they also cut through the negative self-talk that might cause you to trip up or hold you back from reaching your goals and full potential. Writing down positive phrases or reminders for yourself and keeping them posted on your mirror, your car, your computer or wherever you commonly frequent can be extremely helpful during times of intense pressure or stress.
As important as it is to stay conscious of your breath throughout the day, it’s also important to stop and pause to clear the mind and make space for our nervous system to reset itself and allow creativity to more readily flow through us. Meditation can take many forms. There is the traditional “eyes closed, spine straight” style focusing on the breath and the body. Just practicing 5 minutes of this throughout your day can help you to reset and refocus and become much more clear for the work ahead of you. However, if you struggle with sitting still for long periods of time, there are many alternatives to the more commonly known forms of meditation. Long walks, art, or listening to music are just a few non-traditional meditative practices that can take you out of the mind chatter. This helps you to relax your nervous system and get you back into that clear and focused headspace.
5.) Take care of your body
It can be easy when the pace picks up to neglect our physical health. I can’t keep track of the amount of times I have heard people say they don’t have time to eat, sleep or even drink water. Who could blame you? Your mind is being spread in a thousand directions and self-care and maintenance can easily get pushed down to the bottom of the list. However, this takes us back to recommendation number one. Part of being grounded in the storm is having a healthy and solid vessel through which to work from. Without making a conscious effort to schedule in time for well-balanced meals, exercise, regular sleep and hydration, nothing else will work and you will eventually break down into illness and disease, taking away your ability to work on any of the projects you were so Gung-ho about just a few weeks prior. You’d be surprised how, when you prioritize “putting on your own oxygen mask first,” your schedule and activities will mold to meet you. As a close friend shared with me once, “There is time and space for everything.” Practice this affirmation when your mind might want to tell you otherwise. It works. It really does.
Remember that life is here to enjoy and if we take it to seriously, we can lose the passion and vigor that inspired us to hop on the fast train in the first place. As you build that new business, get knee deep in wedding planning, feel overwhelmed juggling kids and family, remember to find ways to make your experience more enjoyable and playful. Bring curiosity back into the picture. See the world with new eyes. Just like eating a delicious meal, if you rush through it thinking about the next thing you have to get to, you miss out on the joy and experience of what is in front of you. Take every day and every experience with a grain of gratitude and appreciation for life and your attitude will inspire everything and everyone around you.
Now you’re ready. Take a deep breath, pull out those “To-Do” lists and Daily Planners and hit the ground running!