“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Peace is a sacred commodity. Sadly, many people experience peace as a fleeting, sporadic thing. I know I used to feel that way. For a long time, I believed the only way to capture my moment of zen was during moments of exploration. The moments when I was away exploring this big, beautiful planet of ours were both the most exciting and the most peaceful of my life. Traveling was great! It healed my little soul, and it did wonders for my stress level.
Traveling gave me a high, but the comedown always hurt a bit. Having to go back to my job and back to my struggles was hard. And so I spent my time stressed, unhappy, and dreaming of my next trip.
Here’s what I didn’t understand. As long as travel was my only way to find peace, I was always going to be chasing it. And while I was pursuing it, I was denying myself the opportunity to be at peace regularly. I was doing a disservice to myself, believing a specific place, or a particular event had to occur for me to have peace.
My challenge became: how do I keep that feeling? Especially in day to day life when sitting at a desk or daydreaming in the shower? So I made a new goal: to have an “aww” moment every day. I’m not there yet, but it’s my goal to try. Below are the practices and the routines I use to bring peace with me everywhere I go.
Take 5 Minutes a Day to Ground Yourself
I tend to be a workaholic. So I used to start my workday already tense. I started it thinking about what I needed to accomplish, what political gauntlet I had to overcome, or what issue I needed to troubleshoot. I would immediately open my emails and get to work, sometimes even forgetting to eat the breakfast I brought for myself.
My work routine was anything but peaceful. So I made a decision to start every day with a grounding meditation. I would do a full-body scan. I would take deep breaths and say to myself multiple times, “today I will stay grounded. Today I will be at peace.”
The minute I added this into my workday, I felt my blood pressure drop. The results were almost instant, but not without some real struggle. My mind tends to run a thousand miles a second, so sitting still for 5 minutes was a challenge! If you are like me and still struggle with “stillness,” there are several great simple meditation options I love and use. Click here for an example.
Create a Space for Peace
It is so important for us to create physical spaces in our lives where we can be at peace. It doesn’t have to be much, a corner of a room will do. It just has to be a place where you can go to block out the noise of the day. Maybe you simply sit in a tub with a book, you stretch on your yoga mat, or a special path you jog to let it all go. There are no limits on what and where it can be, just make sure you a corner of the world that is all your own. While you are in that sacred space, combine it with some painless self-care ideas.
Take Several Short Breaks a Day
Time is limited. There are deadlines to meet and a never-ending “to-do” list. But unless you are in a critical emergency, there is no reason not to stop and take multiple quick breaks. Bringing peace wherever you go isn’t an all or nothing sum. Taking 5 mins to stretch, grab water, or say hello to a coworker, will go a long way to keep you calm and connected throughout your day. I use this sequence as my go-to for getting a good stretch during the workday. It’s under 7 mins and can be done right in your chair.
Again as a recovering workaholic, this was a hard one. Once I got into a project, everything went out the window. That meant lunch, bathroom breaks, and my own personal comfort. I also felt compelled to answer every phone call and every email. Breaks used to be a strange thing, and when I took them, I would feel guilty. And what were the results? I ended up with chronic back pain, UTIs, and baby carpel tunnel syndrome. Moving overseas changed my priorities. But I fight hard against those instincts because they were the habits that robbed me of peace. So when I feel myself starting to get tense. When I start getting tired, I get up, I stretch and move around.
When in Doubt Take a Deep breath
When anger builds, when waves of overwhelm hit me, I think of my mother telling me, “just breathe Kelley, breathe.” I used to be so annoyed when she said it! But now 20 years later and after 10 years as a therapist: mom was right. Taking 2 minutes to breathe in and out deeply has done wonders for my clients and me. For a quick tutorial on what I mean by taking a deep breath, click here.
I don’t travel every day, and I don’t live at a spa, but I do put time and energy into the above suggestions, and it helps. Peace isn’t easy to find, and it certainly is hard to keep, but it’s not impossible. As with all things, it takes work, but the ability to bring peace with you everywhere you go is worth the effort!