Calming Chaos

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Chaos, as it relates to day-to-day life, comes in various forms. Whether it’s the struggle of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, a long to-do list, or feeling like we have to be in two places at one time, internal chaos makes us feel stuck with no way out. If we aren’t careful and fail to take charge of our lives, we can actually become addicted to chaos.

That’s right. Addicted. Our brain craves consistency. Because of this it can equate something disruptive as normal if we live in a state of disorder long enough for it to become habit. Stress, which produces the hormone cortisol, isn’t inherently bad. Cortisol is meant to help us push through hectic seasons. However, when stress sticks around past the time it is needed, we can become addicted to cortisol.

calming chaos and stress

Since we are a little over one quarter of the way through the year, it may be a good time to take stock of whether or not we’ve drifted into a chaotic, unsustainable lifestyle and reroute. In my book Many Voices One Truth, I identify hindrances that distract us and I teach how to tune into what is edifying to your spirit. Distraction can show up as mental, physical, and spiritual clutter. Here are a few tools that can help get you back on course:

  1. Goals: Ask yourself: “Where am I with my 2023 goals? Have I gotten off-track or given up on them altogether? If you have, reboot by writing down daily intentions that will move you incrementally toward the goal. Reflect and express gratitude towards what you accomplish each week. This will boost your confidence and help you maintain momentum.
  2. Ground your spiral: Spiraling refers to an intense, rapid loss of control over your emotional state. When chaos ensues, return to equilibrium with the use of grounding. Grounding takes you out of your head. It brings you back to the present moment. There are three kinds:a. Physical – List things you see around you: “I see a couch, desk, chair, painting…”
    b. Mental – Name as many types of the same thing you can think of: fruit, cars, dogs…
    c. Soothing – Think of five things that bring/brought you joy: Dinner with a friend, last summer’s vacation, cozying up with a good book, your weekend plans, etc.
  3. Lower your stress threshold: Our stress threshold is the amount of stress we can handle before experiencing adverse effects like burnout or shutdown. You may find it helpful to reduce or delegate tasks that you take on, or reach out for support.To evaluate your stress levels, complete this Taris Stress Threshold tool so that you can assess your level of stress and figure out whether you need to drop a few tasks, delegate, or reach out for support.

Choosing calm over chaos is not always easy, but it is doable with intentionality and a willingness to break the addiction to stress. Trust that you have all you need inside to change and bring order back to places in your life that matter most.

 

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Tracy Taris
Tracy Taris is a Southern California-based licensed therapist, speaker, and author.

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