Calm Down, Girl.

Oh, man. There’s that feeling that wells up inside your body like a physical force, and you know, in that moment, it’s either going to manifest in the shrillest mom scream you possess or you’re going to gain control – barely – in enough time to angrily press your lips together, breathe deeply through your nose, and say something along the lines of ‘you know what? NEVER MIND’.

This isn’t an actual statistic, but I’d be pretty confident saying that half of our lives as stressed-to-the-max parents, partners, leaders, teachers, voters, citizens, employees, managers, friends – you get the idea – is spent either working up to this moment, or working down from a moment just like that.

Stress is rough, y’all.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The negative impact of stress on our physical health, the strength of our relationships, and even the results of our daily decisions has been well-documented in scientific studies.

One of the things I’m focusing on lately is prioritizing inner calm. As a believer in Jesus, my faith is central to the peace that I have in knowing He’s got my back. But peace in the promises of God’s word doesn’t mean that we won’t have stressors knocking on our doors all day, every day.

Those are the moments that we can put our faith into practice, right? I mean, that sentence sounds so GOOD, y’all, but the reality is that ‘putting your faith into practice’ takes literal action.

And that’s where the exhortation of many of our Christian leaders ends. ‘Ok, y’all, we know that God is with us. {insert clapping} We know that stress is real. {insert an amen or two} So just lean on your faith and put it into action!’

My brain immediately spirals into rabbit trails. How do you do that? What would the steps be? What would be the ramifications of each of those steps? Are there recommendations for these steps, or are we just supposed to wing it?

I wish I could tell you that this post the magic answer, but I’m not a miracle worker, y’all. What I do know, though, is that intentional calmness is two part for a follower of Jesus. One part is faith, right? We know that fully trusting in Him, actively cultivating our prayer lives and reading the Word of God will manifest in fruits of the Spirit that not-so-coincidentally include peace. So there’s that part, and it’s the one that helps us to guide our reactions to stressors. You know, when they pop up in our faces like a toddler in the middle of the night or a crazy funhouse clown.

You’re welcome for that visual.

But the other part is just as intentional. That’s the part where we establish routines and practices that promote calmness within ourselves. There are little things that I’m working into my daily habits that are helping me to shed some of the stressors I didn’t even know I was battling.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Stepping away from the digital is at the very tippy top of my ‘calm project’ list. We live two whole lives these days; the analog life, which is our actual, physical life, and an entire other digital life that often diverges pretty starkly from our analog one.

Most rational adults understand that there is inherent danger in juggling those two realities. We all get that social engineering and media manipulation is real and pervasive. But what most of us fail to do is, well, anything at all about those truths, even if we all acknowledge the importance of doing things that engage the senses and ground us in the real world.

I’m choosing to take some of these steps to disengage from the digital:

  • Choosing analog routes for some tasks, like my calendar (I’m using my journal instead of iCal) and my reading, which is a BIG deal for me. When I tell you I love to read…. Y’all. It’s nothing for me to read multiple books during a workout session on my phone. I read fast and I read a lot. But I noticed that I’d be reading a book on my Kindle app and would start app-hopping and opening social media apps. I’m choosing to read actual books, which means trips to the library and being intentional about book purchases (rather than consuming whatever book was free on the app that week).
  • Unplugging from social media. This one isn’t new, y’all, and I can’t tell you anything about the stress that exists on social media outlets that you haven’t already heard. I haven’t made a big exit statement or anything, I’m just consciously avoiding most social media apps. And it feels great, tbh.
  • Limiting digital distractions at home. I’m keenly aware that moments with my sweet girl are slipping away like sand through the fingers of time, and I’m making a HUGE effort to put my phone up when we get home and engage directly with her. Our time together is limited as it is – I don’t relish the thought of Netflix raising my child while I sit beside her and scroll mindlessly, but that’s exactly what happens if I don’t purposefully put my phone away. We’ve gone from daily digital consumers to maybe a few times a week, but we’ve gained some pretty precious time together. Oh, and also a bit of a slime incident, because real life isn’t always perfect and Pinterest sometimes lies.

In taking this one step to diminish some of the chaos that I’ve created in myself, I’m directly impacting my own wellbeing as well as the health of my relationships with loved ones.

And that knowledge inspires even more peace.

There are a few other ways I’m actively pursuing calm:

  • Taking up new (and old) hobbies. I live with ADHD and am absolutely a textbook 80%er. I will give almost any project a good solid try, but I’m terrible about finishing said projects. I’m doing a lot more crafting, cooking, and organizing these days, and the sense of accomplishment is actually incredibly rewarding. And bonus – my kid is enjoying learning right along with me.
  • Journaling. This is another 80% project I’m taking on, so it kind of falls into the former category, but it’s also becoming a great way for me to just unload random thoughts. For the longest time, this blog served that purpose, but in realizing that I needed to structure my days in a way that serves my needs best, I found out that I need a private place to just… word vomit, for lack of a better term.
  • Intentional gratefulness. This is something that I’ve given a lot of lip service to, as a mom. It’s like – I wanted my kid to develop all of these great habits to support an amazing future for her, full of empowerment and self-regulation. But I was so focused on modeling it for her that it became kind of rote for me, honestly. ‘Honey, let’s do our gratitude moments! Mommy will start. I’m thankful for our day, and for you and Daddy, and for our home and loved ones….’ And I was cheating myself – and her – out of some really powerful moments to practice gratitude because I was so focused on checking it off the list that I wasn’t fully in the moment.
  • Things to Savor. I have a running list of things to savor. Really good chocolate. The perfect cup of (decaf) coffee. Clean laundry. Spring breezes. A long, tight hug. Snuggling a soft fleece blanket. Those are a few examples of the things to savor list. I’m adding to it daily, and not only focusing on thanking God for those moments, but being intentional about doing at least one thing a day that makes my heart lift and my soul inhale a deep ‘aaaaaahh’.

I’m never going to be an expert at this – or probably anything, tbh – but I’m finding that purposeful calm is helping me develop resistance to the stressors that will always pop up into my face. When my bucket is a little less full, it just makes sense that I’d be able to handle more junk being poured into it without bubbling over into chaos, right?

What about you? Are you prioritizing calm in your life this season?

Have a great week, friends!

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