6 Ways Successful Women Stay Sane When Life Gets CRAZY!

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Finding Calm in Crazy Town

Because sometimes flipping out is NOT an option!

Wow, what a day! 

Excruciating meetings, dicey conversations with your spouse, overwhelming parental duties ... You're at your wit’s end and desperately want let out a blood-curdling scream, take a swing at someone, or run out the door.

But like it or not (hint: NOT!), there are crazy, stressful times in our life when we can't lash out or run for our life. Being "adult" women means tempering our primal instincts for "fight or flight" when they're not the best or most appropriate reactions.

Sure, stressful and challenging days evoke fantasies of escaping to a fun-filled, magical spa somewhere. But when your kids are crying or you're stuck in a tense work meeting, escape is neither a viable option nor a long-range solution.

So, what can you do when you feel yourself losing it, but can't step away from the stress to regroup?

In the heat of the moment, your brain is hard-wired to use all of its resources to find safety. Unfortunately, that ancient programming works great to help you run from a tiger, but actually gets in your way now, when you need to see the bigger picture or get creative in a tough moment to find a good solution. (And the more stressed and overwhelmed you feel, the more your perspective gets negative and narrow; your thinking becomes more black and white.)

What you need is a way to find inner calm in the middle of the storm!

Right there in traffic, right there in the middle of dealing with a rude client, right there while your kids squabble in the background. You CAN call upon the smarter part of your brain. By using your body and mind together, you can shut your stress reaction down. Here's how: 

1. Breathe!!! 

Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, you always have a way back home to yourself — a powerful stress antidote known as, your lungs. And no one has to know you’ve invoked your secret weapon. You can rapidly override your brain’s stress hijack by enlisting your body’s nervous system. Try this:

  • Slow down your breath and count; In for 5, hold, out for 5.
  • Softly, gently picture your breathe moving all the way down to your belly.
  • Soften any tension, any holding. (Yes, even while chaos goes on around you.)
  • Repeat. Repeat.

Ahhhhh… Within just a few intentional breaths, you actually adjust your brainwaves and your chemistry for the better

2. Strike a power pose 

Simply shift your body to a more open, balanced, and supported position to drop your cortisol (the stress hormone) and raise your testosterone (your strength). Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk for inspiration!

If striking a "Wonder Woman" stance is a tad too obvious for the situation you're in, straighten up instead, open your chest, rest your arms on the chairs next to you, put both feet on the ground … and smile.

3. Recite an affirmation

Silently, or out loud if possible, repeat a phrase that reminds you who you want to BE in these situations: "I am grounded, strong, and clear." 

There are plenty of options. Practice! You're choosing your power. (Don’t forget to keep breathing deeply!)

4. Get a little curious 

Your mind is already going a mile a minute — use its power. Which of your needs is really being challenged in this moment? Safety? Connection? Fairness? Curiosity ramps up your smarter frontal lobe.

To help you shift from feeling defensive to feeling curious, try asking yourself 3 What’s and a Who Questions©

  • What are the real facts here?
  • What story or expectations am I adding on?
  • What do I need in this moment?
  • Who do I want to be in this moment?

5. Summon your courage

Sometimes, it's best to stay quiet until you can choose your words more calmly, but too often in the state of overwhelm, you miss the opportunity for real resolution and meeting your needs if you don’t speak up.

Just breathe again and in your calmest, most confident being, ask questions that direct the conversation and honor your needs. What would your heart and gut like you to say? Put your hand on your heart or belly and speak from here.

6. Give yourself a (mental) high-five!

Celebrate what you did do well — it wires your brain for success.

Sometimes, that means celebrating simply living to tell the story and learning from the chaotic situation. And other times you get to truly rejoice in holding your own in the middle of craziness — BRAVO!!!

Now … take a deep breath (or three), put on some music, shake off the gloom and reclaim your bliss!

Cindi Ackrill, is a Physician/Applied Neuroscientist, Coach, Speaker, & Chair of the Board of the American Institute of Stress. Her expertise is helping clients manage stress and bring back energy, happiness and health. Email her to discuss your specific needs at cindi@cynthiaackrill.com or signup for her free newsletter here.


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