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How to Find Calm in the Sea of Chaos. Life, Sense, and Sensibility

Do you suffer a chaotic ever-increasing barrage of expectations and demands? Here are some tips that may help you calm the chaos that eventuates as we try to meet these.

On a daily basis, the ever-changing technology and new ways of doing business take their toll, yeah? And, then there’s the unspoken pressure on you to perform…To be that promotion-worthy employee, that perfect parent, or that gangbuster successful participant of whatever.

Finding Calm in the Chaos, Meaning of Sensibility and Chaos

Sensibility is the ability to perceive stimuli.³

How is this connected to chaos?

In our everchanging modern world, a multitude of stimuli exists. Our senses are bombarded by ever-increasing and ever-changing (and sometimes conflicting) stimuli…unrelentingly. I  think you might agree that, more often than not, it feels like we are traversing a ‘sea of chaos’.

The dictionary defines chaos as disorder and confusion. I think ‘out of control’ or ‘out of whack,’ feeling heckled – are what people might say.

Max Lucado, author of Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, believes most of us are anxious for no reason and that anxious is but “a hybrid of angst and Xious.”

He considers Angst as the sense of unease and Xious the sound he emanates after making it to the top of a hefty flight of stairs: “I can be heard inhaling and exhaling, sounding like the second syllable of anxious, which makes me wonder if anxious people aren’t just that: people who are out of breath because of the angst of life.”

Hacking the Angst of Life

We are designed to survive and our senses help us do that.

We Are Designed to Respond to Chaos

Our bodies are designed to sense and respond to chaos and stress. It’s about survival.

For example, our bodies are designed so that, when we perceive chaos, our ability to taste fat and sugar diminishes¹.

Survival Advantages of Our Response

It is thought that our inbuilt responses to chaos hark back to our ancestral days² when the effects of such sensory change helped us survive the impending lack of food or shelter or the threat of attack from predators or contesting parties.

This makes sense, right? When in a dangerous situation, our bodies would need more energy.

Also, our body releases cortisol when sensing chaos. This increases our metabolism and with other neurochemicals readies us for action. (You know that uptight feeling.)

Among other things, cortisol acts to increase bloodstream sugar to boost our energy and aid our ‘flight or fight’.

Today’s Need to Calm the Chaos

However, the primal survival threats are no longer relevant in modern society. Today we have new and evolving perceived threats to our well-being that are as numerous as they are diverse. Like it did in the past, our body still reacts to stress signals by releasing cortisol (among other stimulants) and altering our senses to prime us to consume more sugar and fat.

Our inbuilt feedback design is meant to protect us in times of lack or impending survival threat, but today instead, it works against us in the case of ongoing stress. For instance, weight gain from a change in tastes where you consume more fats and sugars as a daily habit can add to your anxiety and stress, and overall affect your wellness. And, chronic stress leads to depression.

The same applies to cortisol. Too much of this steroid hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, can cause havoc with our wellness.

By the way, learning to meditate daily is one of the best things you can do to reduce high cortisol levels.

So, we have this type of feedback loop. 

find calm in the chaos
The feedback loop with senses and perceived chaos

Here’s the thing…

Being stressed has survival benefits, but when we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed more than we should, it will probably do us good to switch the stimuli, change the feedback.

Below are some ideas to practice. You can use as many of these techniques as you want. Choose ones that resonate with you the best.

7 Calm the Chaos Sensibility Hacks

Here are seven ideas for hacking your sensibility to feel calm in the ‘sea of chaos’.

#1. Look at Nature Scenes (Sight)

Nature therapy not only relaxes you, it boosts your immune system. Start the day with a glimpse of sunrise, or in the evening a moonrise or sunset. A dose of morning sunshine also helps with your nightly sleep pattern, which is important for calmness during the day.

Use nature’s gifts to your advantage. This video explains why getting into the forest helps calm the chaos…

If you can’t get outdoors at the moment, get comfy with a cushion, then try closing your eyes and imagining a place in nature that resonates with you. You could do this as a type of meditation.

You could imagine being beside a stream, in a meadow of lavender, sitting on the beach, or somewhere else entirely, as long as it resonates with you.

Other fixes: Swap mess, clutter, and undone work on your desk or bench for serene nature scenes. Or, better still, get outside and capture nature up close during your work or study break.

At night, if you have a fireplace, light a fire and watch the flames flicker. Or, gaze up at the night sky and immerse yourself in its breadth and depth.

#2.  Breathe in Fresh, Natural Scents (Smell)

Experience natural scents that lift your mood, like the scents of the forest, mountain, or sea air.

calm the chaos
Natural fragrances like lavender are calming
If you can’t get there in person: Use calming essential oils in an essential oil diffuser that can run for up to 10 hours,  like this one.

Or, lie down in freshly laundered sheets scented with a calming natural fragrance like lavender.

Or, fill a vase with fresh-cut blooms. 

Buy handcraft lavender essential oil on Amazon

#3. The Right Food (Taste)

It’s in our genetic makeup to consume food when feeling threatened (see above). You’ve heard of ‘comfort food’. It was first coined in 1966 to describe food associated with childhood security.

Under severe emotional stress, we turn to comfort food as a coping mechanism. The act of eating can also increase our oxytocin levels, which naturally makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

In support of intuitive eating and calming the chaos, if you are truly craving something, then have it. But it is best to finely balance this with other sensibilities, so it in itself doesn’t lead to binging and create more anxiety.

Try drinking tea if you’re one who finds comfort and likes to work out problems over a cup of tea. Chamomile tea is one recommended for calming and relaxing. Another is lemon balm tea.

Buy Organic Lemon Balm Tea on Amazon

Nutrition for Calmness

Consider this an opportunity to take in nutrients to improve your mood. Make sure to include fresh fruits, green vegetables, and berries in your diet as these are said to add crucial vitamins.

Here’s what I have discovered…

Eating foods rich in Vitamin C can help control those cortisol levels that rise with stress.

And consuming carbohydrates, like pasta, rice, and quinoa can help boost serotonin and make you feel better.

Beans, such as black beans, lima beans, and chickpeas are rich in magnesium, which helps to relax muscles and improve mood.

Fresh lemon balm is excellent for relieving anxiety. It also aids digestion.



Try a Boost of Vitamins to Calm Your System

Being deficient in certain vitamins can add to the feeling of being in chaos. In such cases, supplements may help.

Not always associated with calming, but vitamin C is a known stress buster. If you are really busy, you could try taking Vitamin C supplements as a convenient way to help alleviate high levels of cortisol and support your immune system during times of stress.

Get Non-GMO Vitamin C on Amazon

A good Vitamin B complex is known to help with stress, energy, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Especially, Vitamin B helps with our neural health in the synthesis of serotonin (the feel-good chemical) and in supporting the adrenal glands in association with our fight or flight responses.

Buy Vit B complex on Amazon

There is evidence4 to suggest that taking Vitamin D supplements helps in preventing and treating stress-related issues, especially in older people and others who cannot naturally obtain the goodness from sunshine.

Buy NatureWise Vitamin D3 on Amazon

Other Supportive Supplements

There is a range of supplements that are a complex of natural ingredients that are recommended to reduce stress and anxiety, like Brain Calm, Happy Calm, and BeCalm (see the below table for how these compare).

The benefit of such complexes is that they provide a convenient way of ensuring you support our nervous system when things get a little crazy and you’re feeling the chaos of a busy schedule.

 See the full range of stress relief supplements 

The following are three popular supplements, formulated to help with stress and in feeling calm.

Item Best For Ingredients $$$
Brain Calm Calmer brain
Restful nights sleep
GABA‚
Passion flower‚
Glycine‚ and
Inositol

See Price

Happy Calm Memory, focus, attention, mood.
Increased energy, clarity
Amino Acids (1,350 mg): DL-Phenylalanine & L-Glutamine;
Vitamins A, B, & E;
Chromium + more

See Price

Be Calm Relaxation
Positive mood
Vitamins C & B,
Magnesium,
Choline bitartrate,
Inositol,
PABA, + more

See Price


#4. Listen to Music (Sound)

Sounds of water flowing, and other nature sounds, like forest bird songs, are some of the best music for boosting mood.

Then, there are the low-frequency vibrations in the Alpha wave range, which help you relax and find inner peace – here’s an example.

Music soothes the soul. Tune into your favorite music.

Tip: use noise-canceling earphones that are wireless and sweatproof (so good for the gym and summer outdoors) to mask other noise or when in public.

Check out these headsets on Amazon,

Songs or audio that remind you of fun times are especially good for calming the mind

#5. Get Touchy Feely (Touch)

For this, you could order a massage or get a friend to give you a hug. This will help boost your mood from the release of oxytocin.

Or, you could get into some cozy breathable clothing that feels great on.

To naturally reduce stress and increase relaxation, a lot of people are choosing a weighted blanket, like this one, as it simulates the feeling of being held or hugged and this has a calming effect. This is popular among those who experience heightened sensitivities. 

Other touch ways to find calm:

  • Lie in a bathtub of warm water with a couple of handfuls of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) after work
  • Get treated at the hairdressers
  • Walk barefoot in grassed areas or along the beach
  • Pat or groom a ‘furry friend’

#6. Use Proprioception to Shift Overstimulation

The proprioception system is located in your muscles and joints and controls our coordinated body movement or regulation of your posture.

It is an awareness of self-expression through your body’s pose. This sense centers on muscle spindles. Unconsciously, you express it in how you stand, your facial expressions, and body language, etc., when you feel a certain way.

For example, you might continually frown when you are stressed, or walk with a slumped posture. It’s good to ease this as if you are continually frowning, your skin will show furrows on your forehead as you age.

What to do for a calm life?

  • Practice yoga
  • Play an instrument as a past-time
  • Do stretches at your desk or bench
  • Walk tall
  • Go for a walk (in mindfulness) during your breaks
  • Close and open and move eyes side to side and then up and down, while visualizing a fun place
  • Lie down for a while with a heavy quilt, like this one. This type of cover helps to relax your muscles and allow calming thoughts fill your mind

#7. Balance – Using Your Vestibular Sense

The vestibular system contributes to our awareness of body balance and spatial orientation through sensory organs in our inner ear.

“And the chaos within me found balance” by unknown

Using your vestibular sense for soothing:

  • Rocking slowly in a rocking chair
  • Find a swing in a playground and swing high and low (you’ll be surprised at how it feels)
  • Lay flat on your back on the grass and watch the clouds in the sky move and dissolve

How Sensibility is a Chaos Calmer

Our ability to detect stimuli helps us survive.² We are wired to respond to threats or danger. It’s the ‘fight-or-flight’ response (due to chemical releases) that helps us overcome or avoid ‘danger’. It’s part of our human evolution. From stimuli, we construct meaning, and then, perceive the world around us, e.g., are we in chaos, world upheaval, or peaceful bliss?

The good news is that our sensibility also works on stimuli that signal calm.

For instance, if we look at emotionally uplifting videos or photos, our sensibility can make us feel invigorated, joyful, and at peace, and we forget the outer goings on. We can feel calm in the midst of chaos.



Tips on Using Sensibility Calming Techniques

♦ Try scheduling these each day. There are apps you can use, like Trello, that will allow you to access your schedule on any device anywhere.

♦ Choose certain times, like when you know you might feel frazzled or when it’s practical, like during lunch or morning or afternoon breaks.

Finding peace among the chaos is about finding balance. It centers on finding your true self-awareness.

Stress and anxiety can lead to ongoing depression, which no one craves. So it is best to find your peace and chaos calmers that work for you.

Here are some ‘calming the chaos’ strategies that focus on ignoring and managing the situation:

  • Shift your focus (ignore)
  • Focus on one thing at a time (ignore/manage)
  • Don’t say ‘yes’ to everything (ignore/manage)
  • Schedule, prioritize, and plan (manage)
  • Practice daily meditation or mindfulness (manage)
  • Use prayer, faith, and belief, as suggested by Max Lucado (manage)

How We Control Perceived Chaos

We perceive things are chaotic because stimuli are sent to our brain from our senses to tell us just that. Our neural connections interpret the outside. What we hear, see, taste, feel, or smell fires messages to our brain that affect our moods and our sense of chaos, and peace also.

Proprioception and vestibular are two other senses that work in sending stimuli or messages to the brain that are included.

So, we perceive the world according to what we sense or our ability to sense (sensibility). We also make sense of our world, and perceived chaos, from our perceptions. It’s a kind of a feedback loop.

Final Advice for Finding Peace When It’s Hectic

We can at times feel that our minds are in chaos. But, did you know this chaos saying…

Those of us with chaotic minds are more creative and perceptive than our non-chaotic counterparts. ~ Cathi King

…creative minds tend to be more chaotic than others.

So…Know your capabilities.

What can you change? What can’t you ignore?

Be realistic. Know when your energy levels peak and when they fade.

Do this without judging.

Finally, consciously practice shifting your incoming messages and see what difference it makes.

Hope this helps you find balance.


Other Resources

The Sensory Connection: http://www.sensoryconnectionprogram.com/program.php

A trusted guide to mental, emotional & social health: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-relief-in-the-moment.htm

Dealing with a chaotic mind from a writer’s perspective: http://beabetterblogger.com/chaotic-mind

Finding time in the chaos: http://www.findingtimeinthechaos.com.au

Dess NK, Edelheit D (1998) The bitter with the sweet: the taste/stress/temperament nexus. Biol Psychol 48: 103–119.

Swaffield J & Roberts SC (2015) Exposure to cues of harsh or safe environmental conditions alters food preferences, Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1 (2), pp. 69-76.

References:

  1. Platte P, Herbert C, Pauli P, Breslin PAS (2013) Oral Perceptions of Fat and Taste Stimuli Are Modulated by Affect and Mood Induction. PLOS ONE 8(6): e65006. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065006
  2. Curnoe, D. (2015) Making Sense of Our Evolution. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/making-sense-of-our-evolution-44591
  3. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  4. Anglin, R., Samaan, Z., Walter, S., & McDonald, S. (2013). Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(2), 100-107. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.111.106666

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