These simple strategies to find your zen in the chaos of life will help you ease the stress, feel happier, and reconnect with your gratitude.
But what exactly does ZEN mean in today’s world? There are many different meanings and uses of the word today. If you’re like me, you have often stopped in the middle of your CRAZY and announced, “I need to find my Zen!”
Zen has many meanings and a long history. The word actually dates back to 1727 and can be a noun or adjective. Nowadays, people even use it as a verb. Let’s look at a few of definitions as defined by yourdictionary.com:
- Zen is a type of Buddhism that focuses on self-awareness through the practice of meditation.
- A philosophy of calm, related to that of the Buddhist denomination.
- A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through faith and devotion and that is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
These definitions are a little more complex and deeper than what I am referring to when I say “I need to find my zen!” My use of the term tends to be more like the slang definition of zen. I define zen as being peaceful and relaxed. When I need to find my zen in a crazy moment, I need to CHILL OUT and SETTLE DOWN!
I also feel my place of zen is associated with mindfulness, slowing down, deep breathing, finding gratitude and grace, and being happy.
So whatever you think of as zen, let’s take a look at 10 Simple Ways to Find Your Zen in the Chaos of Life!
10 Simple Ways to Find Your Zen
We all have those moments. You know, the moments when you think you’re going to lose your mind. Or the moments when you are about to say something you know you will regret. Or, you’re at your breaking point. These are the moments when it’s time to focus on finding your zen in the moment. Here are some tips that will help!
1. Pause… Breathe… Relax
This has been my “go to” zen strategy for as long as I can remember. When I am overwhelmed or frustrated to the point of feeling or thinking irrational thoughts, I try very hard to STOP!
I stop right where I am and take 30 seconds to pause… breathe (a few deep breaths in and out)… and relax. I actually wiggle my arms and body a bit to release the tension that has built up.
This strategy has been effective in my home, the workplace, and public places… I have used it with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. It’s so quick that people rarely notice what I am doing.
But it works wonders to get myself together! I generally go to a mental place of gratitude by the end of my 30-seconds.
Related Article: Practical Tips for Finding Calm in the Chaos
2. Put on Some Music
You don’t have to be Beyonce or Taylor Swift to let music take you away from the craziness of life. There is great power in putting on some music and belting out a good song!
Studies show people who sing are happier and less anxious; it can even help your overall wellness. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you sing out of tune! Do it anyway!
I have created both iTunes and Alexa playlists with my favorite music. So wherever I am when I am losing my mind, patience, or temper, I can direct Alexa or Siri to play whatever music I feel will help me get through the momentary crisis. Sometimes I even put my AirPods in and completely forget what’s going on around me. YEP! I sure do!
People think I’m crazy sometimes, but crazy because I am singing is better than crazy because I’ve gone ballistic, right?
3. Close Your Eyes
Anytime you feel the need to have a zen moment, you can stop and pull the blinds (eyelids) shut on life. Close your eyes and turn your gaze inward. When you do this, look into the beautiful stillness of your inner world.
Shut out the noises and reflect on the darkness and quiet of your inner world. This is a great first step toward becoming more at peace and calming your mind and body.
Take a few deep breaths before you open your eyes and face the world again. You will have a new perspective.
4. Put on the Brakes
There are times when you must put on the brakes and shut everything down. When the chaos is too far out of control and it feels like you are not going to be able to regroup or reconnect, it’s time to put on the brakes.
Leave or walk away. Enough is enough. Provide directions for anyone who is in your care. And shut down the moment.
There were times in the classroom as a teacher when I had to send everyone back to their desks, turn off the lights, and direct everyone to put their heads down for a 3-4 minute rest period. It gave everyone, including me, time to reflect and redirect the chaos toward calmness and peace.
Sometimes it is just necessary. With children and adults.
Related Article: How to Protect Your Peace of Mind
5. Elevate Your Senses
When you need to find a moment of calm and relaxation, focus on your five senses. Reach for something to TOUCH and rub it for a few minutes. Something soft, or rough, smooth, or squishy. It doesn’t matter. Just rub it between your fingers and think about the sensation.
Or if you have something nearby that SMELLS good… your morning coffee… a candle… a bottle of lotion… essential oils… breathe in the smell and appreciate it. Maybe it reminds you of something nice. Try to refocus your thoughts on something happy.
You can do the same thing with TASTE, SIGHT, and HEARING. If you are outside, listen for the beautiful sounds of nature. Look for birds flying through the sky. Hear the sound of a train passing by.
Elevating your senses helps to relieve tension in your body and reduce stress.
6. Hug Someone Special
This is another personal favorite of mine. When I am at my breaking point, I find someone to hug. It’s really very easy.
Most people can tell when you are stressed or anxious and need to find your zen. They are usually more than willing to offer a hug, especially if you say “I need a hug, please.”
And that’s exactly what I do. I tend to do it with my husband the most. Often I am near tears, or something very upsetting has occurred. I just go to him and tell him I need a hug.
I brace myself against him and wrap my arms around his waist, and he wraps his arms around me, and we hug it out until I have myself together again (until I find my zen).
If no one is around, I have also hugged myself! A good squishy squeeze and some twisting will at least bring a chuckle!
Then I take a deep breath and continue with whatever I was doing with a new frame of mind. It really works; give it a try!
Pin to Pinterest for Later
7. Tapping or Brushing
Tapping and brushing are techniques that are used for a variety of purposes. They can be used with people who have sensory processing deficits, but they are also beneficial to calming your mind and body to reach your zen.
You can purchase a body brush that is designed to actually brush up your limbs toward your heart to get blood flowing better. It helps to calm your body and mind. I’ve used this technique with students and on myself. I find it very relaxing and it helps me settle my mind as well as stimulate a healthy flow of blood and oxygen.
You can also simply use tapping as a strategy to calm down. Tapping helps to settle my mind. I use my first two fingers on each hand to gently tap across the top of my eyebrows, under my eyes, on my temples, and across my cheeks. I close my eyes and focus on the sensation to help clear my mind.
8. Visualize Someplace Special
This strategy was something I learned from a counselor years ago. I use it frequently.
First, I identified a place where I feel total peace and tranquility. The first place that came to mind was Skagway, Alaska! It is a tiny old town located between two mountains. We have always arrived via cruise ship. It’s a gorgeous location where you can stand in town and see water ahead of you, mountains on each side, and the vast Yukon territory behind you heading out of town.
We have walked to and from the town from the cruise ship and throughout the beautiful area. We have also rented a car and driven deep into the Yukon territory in Canada. It is one of the most peaceful locations I’ve ever visited. When visiting, I often find myself just standing in the middle of the street and looking around at the beauty.
So when I need to find my zen, I take myself right to Skagway! I visualize everything I’ve described above, plus the serene little park at the edge of town and a water fountain statue of a salmon. I hear the excitement inside the taverns at one end of the town, and see the handmade gifts in the stores.
Visualizing a peaceful, happy place can help you find your zen. Give it a try!
Did you know there is research that shows a SMILE can immediately change your mood and mindset? When you find yourself in a situation where you need to find your zen, consciously put a smile on your face and keep it there. The act of smiling actually helps you feel less stressed and more happy.
Studies show that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin into your brain. Together, these natural brain chemicals effect your whole body. They elevate your mood, relax your body, fight off stress, and reduce physical pain. Smiling is like a natural drug.
While a smile can help you find your zen, it can also positively impact those around you. A smile puts others at ease and helps them feel more positive and happy, too.
So put that beautiful SMILE on your face and share some peace and relaxation.
10. Express Your Gratitude
When in the middle of chaos and feeling the need to find your zen, another strategy that can help you calm down is expressing gratitude. Remember, there is always something to be grateful for. So look beyond whatever is causing you stress and verbally express your gratitude for things that bring joy to your life.
It may be the sunshine or the rain, or maybe your family pets. Or maybe it’s your home, or health. Remove yourself from the situation that is causing you stress and seek out the wonderful things in your life that bring you joy. Focus on those things rather than the things that are causing you stress.
Final Thoughts About Finding Your Zen
Achieving zen simply means slowing down and finding your place of peace. It can be over the long haul, or in the moment. Most of the strategies I’ve mentioned in this article are especially helpful in the moment. There are many other strategies that can be used for learning to live a complete zen lifestyle.
Learning to be present, calm, and relaxed is significant for your mental health and physical health. Everyday life will be so much easier and happier if you can learn to zen your life.
These are some long-term strategies that can help you live a life of zen:
- use a Daily Journal
- meditate everyday
- get regular massages
- get out in nature everyday
- exercise regularly
- do yoga regularly
- eat healthy foods and meal plan
- practice good sleep hygiene
- establish a daily routine and don’t over-schedule
- declutter your environment(s)
- avoid multi-tasking
- practice mindfulness
- use daily affirmations
- be present everyday
- schedule quiet breaks
- practice gratitude regularly
I invite you to read How to Bring More Cozy Into Your Life, also. It offers many ideas about how to live a more zen, or hygge, lifestyle.
Living a zen lifestyle is about being centered at your core, mentally with your soul as well as physically. It allows you to feel empowered and peaceful. Zen is a great way to help your mind, body, and soul.
It does not come naturally for me so I have to practice and train myself to be more zen. I hope the information I’ve shared in this article, and in my other linked articles, helps you find your zen.
Now go get your zen on, my friends! Find your inner zen and give yourself a happier, more relaxed life!
Love to All! ~ Susan