creative joy retreat, 2012, leaf and light

This week on Weightless I talked about shifting our focus from the things that don’t really matter to the things that do (see here and here). Because our time and energy are finite. And some things — many things — simply don’t deserve to hold our attention.

Of course, this can be easier said than done. Because when we’re hyper-focused on something (everything from a negative comment to lack of Facebook likes), it’s hard to pause and hit the brakes. That’s when it can help to have some tools at the ready.

Here’s a list of ways you can pause, reflect, reconsider or savor some calm. Some ideas might be obvious, and you might use them already. But, overall, this list is meant to serve as a reminder of the numerous options, strategies and tools we can turn to — even when we feel like there’s nothing we can do.

  • Listen to meditations, such as this forest imagery, this deep relaxation meditation or these guided meditations.
  • Take a walk. It’s amazing how healing walking can be. Yesterday, my husband and I took an hour-long walk along the beach. We both couldn’t stop talking about how such a seemingly small activity could feel so incredible.
  • Go for a run, focusing on your feet as they hit the pavement.
  • Sit with your pain. Validate how you’re feeling, and don’t try to change it. Get curious about how you’re feeling and where it hurts.
  • Do something that genuinely calms or comforts you (and supports your well-being).
  • Ask for a hug.
  • Practice yoga. (I love these videos from Anna of Curvy Yoga.)
  • Talk to someone you trust. (Maybe even write a letter to this person.)
  • Talk to a therapist.
  • Close your eyes, and take several slow breaths. Our breath is always available to us, and can serve as a powerful tool in bringing calm and perspective.
  • Watch the water. Listen to waves crashing. You might do this in person, or find a video or audio online. (YouTube has lots of options — like this video and this one.)
  • Set a specific time every day to focus on your worries (30 minutes tops). If worries arise after this time, jot them down, and return to them tomorrow during your next worry session.
  • Doodle, sketch or scribble as you’re stressing out over something that simply isn’t worth it. Think about the frustration leaving your body through your hands and releasing onto the paper.
  • Watch or listen to something that makes you laugh. Maybe you can even find something funny about what you’re currently concerned about.
  • Read from your favorite book — something that usually helps you refocus or gives you a bigger or brighter perspective.
  • Write about it. You might answer questions like: How am I feeling right now? Why is this bothering me? What might be lying underneath? Where is this frustration really coming from? When you’ve acknowledged and explored how you’re feeling, consider writing about your next steps: What can I learn from this? How might I move on? What do I need right now?
  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling. Then make a list of 5 to 10 reasons why this worry isn’t worth it. Then make a list of a few things you’d like to focus on instead. Or a few ways you’d like to spend the day.

What activities or things calm and comfort you? What helps you refocus on what’s important?