14 Ways To Calm Down + Find Instant Sanity (at home)
Oh my goodness you guys. I’ve been reading wayyyyy tooooo much news. How do I know? My mind races, I’m waking up too often at night, my shoulders are tense and the headaches are back. And all of this started on Saturday when I became engrossed in a recent news story.
It may be easier for me to assume I’m perhaps getting a cold, stressed over work, worried about money… But if I’m honest, I’m not the victim here - I’ve caused my own anxiety. Like many of you, I’m a creative person which also means I am highly sensitive. When I’m exposed to a lot of negativity - esp. world news, I spiral down into a deep pit of overwhelm.
decor8 is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
We tend to overreact when we feel less than great, reasoning it has to be a really huge reason, don’t we? Thing is, most of the time the reasons are quite small and quick to fix. It’s like when we have a splinter in our thumb. It’s small but hurts like hell. It’s also an easy problem to fix: Just pull it out and move on.
If you’re sensitive and world news (or even social apps like Instagram), cause you stress, consider pulling back. I deactivated my news alerts on my phone this morning. I’ve decided that for a few days, I won’t swipe over to my Top Stories on my iPhone. I won’t open my Whatsapp until I feel ready to engage (family members know to call me if there is an emergency).
I don’t need to know about war, earthquakes, shootings or child abduction every second of the day. None of this contributes to anything even remotely positive in my home life or within the bubble that is my local community. Maybe it seems selfish or like a bad idea to distance myself from news, but I don’t care. This isn’t about what other people think of me. It’s about protecting my sanity. On days when I’m exhibiting stress symptoms, I simply must walk way from triggers to guard my own health. If the triggers are a person that I love, that’s different. I don’t ghost or pull away from people that I love, that isn’t kind and certainly can damage the friendship. But if the trigger is something like news or apps, I have every right to press pause.
Walking away from a negative feeling isn’t enough to snap us out of the mood though. We need to refocus or else the negativity remains.
Here is a list of 14 things that you can easily do right now (not all them - pick one) to put you in an instantly better state of mind at home. I hope some of my tips help you. You don’t need fancy or expensive equipment, just 10-20 minutes to refocus yourself should be enough.
14 Ways To Calm Down + Find Instant Sanity (at home)
Listen to music: Put on some calming music and let yourself drift away or something energizing and dance! Create specific playlists that you can return to again and again. I like to theme mine by theme or mood - “Sunday Morning”, “Friday Night”, “Chill Zone”, “Work out”, “Yoga Sesh”, etc.
Practice meditation or mindfulness: Find a quiet place to sit and focus on your breath or use a guided meditation app like Calm. My son loves the Calm app before bed - there is a whole section for kids in case you didn’t know.
Do some coloring or drawing: Coloring books for adults (flowers, plants, geometric patterns, etc.) have become very popular as a way to relax and unwind. I’ll often sit down while my son is drawing and I’ll take out one of my coloring books and take part in a little slow down time along with him.
Declutter: Clean out your closet, tidy up your living space or organize your kitchen. I have been working through every cabinet and drawer in my home since 2021 and I finally finished all 10 rooms in my house. Every nook is now organized. It feels really good. I’m going through all of the nooks again to further reduce my possessions and better organize from here. It’s meditative and really helps me to think about something other than tragic news and painful stories centered on loss and sadness.
Take a relaxing bath: Add some essential oils or Epsom salt to help soothe tired muscles. Always burn candles and play relaxing music….
Do some gentle yoga or stretching: Look up some easy yoga poses or stretches to help release tension and increase flexibility. I’ve been doing yoga now for nearly a year, and daily stretching exercises, both have paid off in numerous ways. I love yoga!
Get some fresh air: Spend time outside in nature or go for a walk around your neighborhood, or do what I do when I cannot go out - open the window and lean out and take 5 huge breaths. It’s so clearing! This is a big part of German culture - to open a window each day and air out the house - even in winter. I believe in it after living here for over 13 years. It definitely “clears the air” in more than one way! I also step onto my balcony and breathe, even if it’s freezing outside. Studies have shown that cold air is really awakening and good for the vagus nerve and is excellent for circulation.
Prepare something nourishing to eat: Try a new recipe and enjoy the process of creating something delicious. Yesterday, I baked chopped sweet potatoes with salt, olive oil, pepper, and assorted herbs. I placed tin foil on top and left them in the oven at 180c for 45 minutes. When they came out, I topped them with crumbled feta cheese and fresh parsley and put them back in without the foil for 10 minutes - perfection! Eating something so packed with nutrition made me feel better than if I had cooked something unhealthy or called out for pizza or Chinese.
TIP: You can make “bowls” so easily too. Use a bowl that you really love, I have a few from a potter friend made from stoneware that I love in creamy white. In the bowl, you can add some steamed rice in a “row”, then a row of chopped cucumbers, sliced avocado with black pepper and lemon, vegetarian falafel (make yourself or buy pre-made at the store), add hummus, and add a few salted tortilla chips. I know it sounds odd, but it’s a lovely mix - the crunch, the salty, the spice, it’s really satisfying to make bowls composed of small amounts of things that you love and lots of veggies! You can do the same in the morning with yogurt, musli, chopped apples, pecans and top it with a drizzle of date syrup.
Play a game: Play a board game, card game, or video game to unwind and have fun. My son and I have been playing games every day now, it’s become a ritual. Currently, it’s Pokemon Monopoly or Uno - not video games, paper and dice style. We play video games too but I notice we interact more with each other playing paper games than digital ones, we are facing one another not a screen, so we tend to talk, laugh, play argue, and tease more. These moments make me feel like I’m being a better parent. I read somewhere that if you just commit to taking 30 minutes a day to do one thing with your child where you focus fully on them (not watching TV, shopping, or eating), you’ll feel like a better parent. I honestly believe this! On days when I feel like I wasn’t really “present” with my son, I go to sleep feeling a bit saddened by that thought. On days when I spent time on the floor playing LEGO with him or doing a puzzle together, I rest better because I know I gave him some alone time with me, some together time, quality time.
Read a book: Curl up with a good book and let your mind escape into the story. I recently bought a new book and started reading it on Friday and into the weekend. If I’m reading a great book, I don’t have time to fixate on the news.
Journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings to help process and release emotions. I also picked up a new journal last Friday with writing prompts inside. I started writing in it on Sunday morning and noticed a slight shift in my overall well-being.
Practice gratitude: Write down things you are thankful for to help shift your focus to the positive. This can be part of a daily journal too. Try it! When we write down things that we are grateful for, we naturally feel blessed and better!
Make a mood board, vision board, etc. There’s a lot of power in visualization. Some people really love to cut out images by hand, others do them digitally, but the idea is to think of a topic and just create a collage, an assemblage of images, that help you to sort out what’s on your mind. You can do them on a corkboard, linen-covered board, in a journal, on a poster board, anywhere! You can paint, add washi tape, anything you want.
Reach out to friends. Whether it’s on an app or through social media, or IRL, reach out to friends and let them know when you feel overwhelmed or exhausted. Many people care about you and want to be there. Invite someone over for coffee or tea. I did this last week and rekindled a friendship that weakened a bit during corona times. Now we are good friends again just from a simple coffee date at my house. We all need people.
What do you do to unwind and relax at home?
Thank you Holly for this reminder to turn off some of the channels that make me feel overwhelmed. As a high sensitive person I often experience that feeling - too loud, too much, too many, especially while watching the news or on social media. Besides that it was nice to see that I already follow some of your suggestions like listening to music, reading, cooking, meeting friends, going on a walk, doing meditation and a little yoga/stretching. And I love coloring books! Have a lovely week!
Thank you -this is such a good list. I'm printing this to refer to whenever I need it.