As news headlines flash across our screens and the structure of our daily lives shifts dramatically on an almost monthly basis, it’s easy to feel frustrated. Maybe you had big plans, and they’ve been totally scrambled. Perhaps you’re finding it hard to find hope in the future.
We’re taught from a young age that we have a level of control over our lives — that if we put in certain inputs, we can reasonably expect certain outputs. And yet, the more life we live, the more that equation is cast in doubt. Whether it’s a global pandemic that restructures the world or a personal event that shakes us off course, the truth is we have far less control than we’ve been told.
Most likely, this is not news to you. But it’s an easy truth to forget, especially when this lie is sold to us through the entertainment we watch, the ads we’re served, and the news we follow.
The good news is, there’s nothing more freeing than realizing there’s a limit to what we can fix, prevent, or manipulate. We can control the way we treat others. We can control the way we react. We can control our thoughts and our actions. We can control our decisions (but not their outcomes). The rest is just a movie that we happen to be living in as we watch in real time.
Do the things that are stressing you out fall outside of those categories? If so, ask yourself: how much control do I really have? And if the answer is none or very little, give yourself some grace, and let it go.
Embrace the art of surrender.
Life is fluid; it’s impossible to hold. When we try, it seeps right through our hopeful hands, and we become depressed, anxious, and frustrated. If you want to feel peace, do not attempt to give your life a shape. Instead, surrender to the flow and trust that it will guide you where you’re meant to be.
We’re not saying ignore your responsibilities or give up on your hopes and dreams. Rather, identify what makes you feel vibrant and excited, and use that as your North Star. Then, take the necessary steps forward, and let the rest unfold. Instead of seeing challenges as “roadblocks,” try to view them as “reroutes.” Surrender is intention plus action minus expectations.
When we focus our energy on things that are outside of our control, we spend a lot of time living in our minds. Grounding is a great way to get out of our heads and back into our bodies. One of the best ways to ground is to go outside and put your bare feet on the Earth. Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative ions can help physically stabilize our bodies. If that’s not available to you, simply observing natural shapes (trees, flowers, rivers) can help reset your nervous system.
- Spend 15 minutes walking through a forest
- Take your shoes off and place your feet on the Earth
- Look out your window and observe nature
- Fill your home with plants or beautiful photos of the outdoors
- Take six deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
Face your fear.
Fear is at the root of anxiety. While there’s no overnight fix, a guided meditation can do wonders for de-escalating a mild to moderate stress response. Here’s a great (free!) 15 minute meditation you can do from anywhere. Grab your headphones, close your eyes, and breathe.