When you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start creating the serenity you crave, don’t try to do everything at once– and don’t simply give up. Build islands of tranquility in your life. Even if– especially if– your life feels like a sea of chaos sometimes.
If your home is beyond cluttered and you feel like you are swamped with chaos, clean and beautify just one small space for yourself. Choose something that can be done in whatever amount of time feels easy. Choose something that you will enjoy, not something you “should” clean. Your island of tranquility can be as small as a chair you love next to a window, a corner with a cushion in it for meditating or dreaming, your bed, your desk or a small shelf that holds things you enjoy looking at. Make this one space clean and beautiful, and devote a few minutes each day to keeping it lovely… just for yourself.
If you feel like the items on your to-do list are rising up to drown you, take a deep breath and remember that you can only do one thing at a time. Choose just one thing that you can make tangible progress on today. Work on it for a short time… five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour or whatever feels easy. Remember all the things you did that weren’t on any list. Notice the progress, big or small, that you made today. Know that your time, energy and persistence can rise to the occasion and accomplish enough.
If you feel unmoored because your life is lacking desired routine and structure, add just one small habit or mini-routine into your day. Make one change, commit to it, and see what else needs to shift to support that change. Once you have one needed routine added into your life, you can evaluate whether adding more structure would help. Start simple. Start easy. Lay just one stone of the foundation and trust that even small shifts can support you greatly.
If you are awash in loneliness, who are the people who anchor you? Your spouse or partner, your best friend, your sister or mom? Whoever they are… be with the people you can count on to love you. Invite them. Offer something to them. Ask of them. Call them on the phone, chat with them over coffee or lunch, take the kids to the park together, or watch a movie with them after the kids are in bed. Sure, perhaps you also long for new connections or more community in your life or much more time for connection… but the love you long for most is likely closer than you think and nourished more easily than your brain would have you think. Look nearby and open yourself.
If you need time to yourself, find a time where your spouse or partner or friend can be on point, or your kiddo is reliably asleep, for just 15 minutes per day. And give yourself whatever it is that your soul most needs with your small island of alone time. A little self-nurture, done consistently, goes a long way.
Create an island of tranquility, and simply dwell there for a time, replenishing. Return often and nourish yourself in small sips and deep drafts. From these islands, built one by one, you can expand outward when you are ready. Root yourself, and grow.
And someday your islands will be so many and so expansive that they will begin, magically, to overlap and connect. And you’ll find that tranquility and chaos can coexist more easily than you ever dreamed.
Look around you, and look within you. Where will you create or expand your next island of tranquility?