Finding calm in chaos

Chaos. It comes into your life like a tornado. Fast and somewhat unexpected, destroying every semblance of preparedness you’ve put in place. There’s nothing you can do but hunker down and let it take control. That’s what it feels like anyway. If I’m honest, I don’t know if there’s anything you can do to stop chaos from working its way into your life. You can organize and plan, but it’ll still show up and turn everything upside down. You know what they say: “Man plans, God laughs.” The best way I’ve found to deal with chaos is to find calm in it.

Rather than try to pick up the pieces while chaos reigns, take time to ground yourself. When you feel things starting to spiral out of control step back and take a deep breath. Focus on your breathing for a second. Take stock of what’s around you then think of all the things you’re in control of. Some things won’t make your list. That’s the nature of the beast. Focus only on what you can control and start steering the ship. Make a list of those things and deal with each of them one at a time.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s a lot going on. I find myself drowning in a sea of must-dos and what-ifs and self-doubt and worry more often than ever before lately. There’s a lot going on in the world in general and we’re all busy in our personal and/or professional lives. You could be juggling school and a part-time job right now. Or working and taking care of a family member or recently started a family of your own. Tasks in everyday life pile up fast and while you may think you’ve got it all under control, we’re only built to withstand so much.

I once heard that people who let go of tension in their bodies during car accidents were more likely to walk away without a scratch. If we think of chaos in our lives like that, the key to surviving is letting go to some extent. It’s knowing what’s coming and going with the flow. Controlling only what you can, which in this case isn’t much. That way it’s over fast and with little to no harm done. The more you try to get in the mix sometimes, the more you get in your own way.

We tend to overcompensate when things start spiraling out of control. We create for the sake of creating. We perform just to say we did it. We cut corners and put bandaids on things that need much more attention. When I get overwhelmed, I feel the need to quickly put out a lot of work or throw things together. The outcome is never what I’m aiming for and it shows. When you don’t take the time to stop and think things through or find the best path forward, it shows.

Focus inward. Trust your gut. Stop doubting yourself. You know more than you think you do. You’re smarter than you know. You’re strong. You were made for this. Think of these things as your horizon and don’t lose sight of them as you weather the storm.


Hit the pause button. Stop doing what you’re doing. Don’t take any calls. Take a time out from social media. Focus inward on yourself and what you’re feeling.


Take deep breaths and focus on each one. If you need, start naming things around you to help ground yourself.


Focus on the things you can control. Shut everything else out.


Take the things you named before and make a list. Put it in order from most to least important or easiest to hardest or whatever works for you.


Get to work. Do what you can with what you haveDon’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Chaos is inevitable and yet you can never be fully prepared for it. The scale is unpredictable and the damage done is anyone’s guess. You can’t stop it from coming, but you can find calm in it. The more you understand that and focus on doing that, the better equipped you’ll be to handle whatever life throws your way.


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