Finding the Calm in the Chaos

When life gets chaotic, don’t you wish you could just “poof” yourself somewhere else with a click of your heels?


Finding the calm in the middle of chaos is a matter of shifting your focus. Have you ever heard people talk about how we often pay attention to the “urgent” stuff on our to do lists, instead of the important stuff? I know I do that all the time. You get an email or a phone call, and something has to be done RIGHT now, and before you know it, you’ve handled so many URGENT things that you’ve run out of time to do the things that were really important. Well, those urgent things are the chaos. And finding the calm in the chaos allows us to re-prioritize, and make sure we’re taking care of the important things, not just the urgent ones.


Finding calm in the chaos is important, because it means you’ll be less likely to make snap decisions, it gives you a longer fuse, and it makes you more likely to find creative solutions to problems. On a personal level, it also lowers your blood pressure and keeps you feeling like your head is about to pop off! The tips below will help you cut through the craziness when things start getting heated.


If you find yourself needing the calm in the chaos, try to remove yourself from the situation for a moment, if possible. Take a coffee break, a bathroom break, or just say, “I’ll get back to you on that.” While the stressor is right in front of you, it’s harder to shift your focus. If you can’t remove yourself from the situation for whatever reason, there are more advanced tricks you can try. Do you remember when you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you to try to count to 10 so you wouldn’t lose your cool? That trick still works! 10 seconds may SEEM like way too long to pause in real life, but if it helps you say the right thing or make a good decision, that time is worth it!


Another way to find calm is by breathing. Yes, I know, you’re ALWAYS breathing. But really focused breathing can have an almost-magic effect. When my husband and I were first dating, he was going through a really stressful period at work. He would always come home strung as tight as a piano wire, and I’d spend all evening getting him to chill out enough to fall asleep. One night we were staying at his apartment, and had just drifted off to sleep, when the fire alarm in his building went off! Our eyes snapped open and we lay there for a few moments, waiting for it to shut off. When it didn’t, we went downstairs to check. Nope, no fire, just a false alarm, but they couldn’t get it to shut off!


As 5 minutes became 30 minutes, he became increasingly agitated. “I’ll never get to sleep! What am I going to do?!?! I need my sleep!” he panicked. I started talking to him in a really soothing voice, telling him to breathe in and out, in for three seconds, out for six seconds. I had him count in his head as he breathed in and out, for ten minutes. The alarm was still blaring overhead, but I whispered in his ear, in and out. After 10 minutes, I looked over, and he had fallen asleep despite the fire alarm STILL going off! If he could find calm in THAT chaos, I know you can do it. Sometimes, it just takes some deep breathing.


For the next few days, see if you can find the calm in the chaos. When you feel things starting to swirl out of control, shift your focus. Step away, count to 10, take deep breaths, whatever works for you. Just do whatever you can to recognize that no matter how chaotic things SEEM, there IS calm there, and you can choose to grab on to that, instead.