New studies show that what most people strive for is not happiness, but calmness. However, with stressors all around us, it can be hard to find serenity while still getting everything done. Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo shares her tips to help you balance stress and shows us how to achieve both calmness and happiness.
As we evolve in our lives, calm is the new happy that we strive for. When we were younger, the idea of going out all night might have excited us. Now, I often see my clients desire to have calm in their lives: a Saturday night dinner with friends or a relaxing Sunday afternoon where they might even be able to read that pile of magazines they have been wanting to get to. Many dream about spa days rather than a crazy night of partying.
The high level of stress in our lives also contributes to this desire for calm. Because many do not get calm moments during the day, stress levels creep up as the day progresses. Try these tips to achieve a little more calmness in your life.
Forget Perfect: Your children, dinner, house… do not have to be perfect. Dishes in the sink or a little stain on your child’s pants as they run off to school is not going to kill anyone. Prioritize being happy over being perfect.
Plan ahead: Have your children get their stuff (clothes, bag and lunch) ready at night so they're ready for the next morning. The same goes for you.
Rotate meals: I often hear “I don’t know what to make,” so develop a repertoire of 15 to 25 meals that you want to serve your family and then rotate. A website like Six O’clock Scramble (thescramble.com) offers menus, shopping lists and easy recipes that are kid and adult friendly.
Blow bubbles (gum or soapy bubbles threw a wand): This can make you feel young and encourages deep breathing. Plus, you can do it with your kids.
Bedtime: Establish a clear bedtime for you and your children. Depending on their age, your children may read quietly in bed if they are not tired. Having this bedtime for your children helps them get a good night’s sleep and helps you have some downtime. Having your own bedtime gets you your Zz’s rather than another hour on social media. Sleep will help you feel calmer during the day.
Take 5: Exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. No time to go to the gym? Try this: Take five minutes to do some kind of movement, whether it's jumping on the bed, walking around the block or doing push-ups or sit-ups. It will release important hormones to help you feel more calm and energized.
Music: Music can be very powerful in altering your mood. Listen to music that calms you – it may be songs from the past or have lyrics that inspire you. No need to be classical orchestral tunes — any music that you enjoy will be beneficial.
Hug a loved one: A hug (or any loving touch) can release oxytocin which helps you feel closer and more calm.
Focus on gratitude: When we experience gratitude, it actually reduces the stress reactions in our brain. Write three things you feel grateful for each day. Doing this before your day begins can help set a more positive tone. Doing it at night before sleep can help you get into a positive state before you drift off.