Like most people, you probably already know that inner peace is the opposite of stress. The real question is how to find and maintain a tranquil state of mind, especially in a chaotic world.
In this article, I’ll share 7 practical ways to find inner calm to reduce anxiety, minimize racing thoughts, and free yourself from unnecessary pressures. Some of the suggestions may come off as too simplistic or lacking in depth. Still, countless people have found success with them, and so can you.
Let’s kick off by clarifying what it means to have inner peace.
What Does It Mean to Have Inner Peace?
Inner peace is being in harmony with the world within, regardless of what’s happening without. It means to feel content and happy, even when you’re faced with difficult situations.
Having inner peace means achieving a state of being that makes you grounded, centered, and balanced as you face daily ups and downs. A profound sense of calmness makes you less likely to experience distress, anxiety, or inner conflict.
However, like all positive emotions, peacefulness ebbs and flows.
You’ll be holding yourself to an unrealistic standard if you expect to have a totally stress-free life. All that does is create more stress instead of the opposite of stress.
Having inner peace doesn’t necessarily mean being perfect, nor does it indicate the absence of challenging situations. Instead, it is experiencing inner calm despite stressful situations.
Once you understand this, you won’t beat yourself up for not constantly maintaining an inner state of tranquility.
How to Find Inner Peace in a Busy World
Wouldn’t it be great to spend more time in the mountains, like the Tibetan monks, to enjoy peace of mind? While that’s one way to cultivate a sense of calmness, you don’t need to physically escape all the chaos and negativity of the modern world to experience inner peace.
Indeed, spending time in a serene environment or carving out time to meditate can be helpful. But it is when your entire world is in a chaotic state you need to find the opposite of stress the most.
It is in those frustrating, trying, and stressful moments when you feel like screaming your head off, going away, or disconnecting from your current reality; that’s when you should actively tap into the sense of calm within.
Speaking of which, here are 7 simple practices to help you access your inner calm (even if you don’t have a ton of cash to spend on wellness retreats).
1. Shift Gears With Deliberate Breathing
Have you noticed how rapidly your heart beats and how fast you breathe when you’re anxious, fearful, or stressed? Your sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response) reacts to a potentially threatening situation.
While this automatic response is designed to keep you safe, it can work against you if you allow it to run the show.
The modern world is rife with stressful triggers that can negatively affect your well-being, so you must learn to slow down your stress level response, increase relaxation, and stay mostly calm.
One way to do this is to practice deliberate breathing techniques like:
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Equal breathing
- 4-7-8 breathing
Having a couple of these deliberate breathing techniques in your back pocket can help promote relaxation when you need to shift gears and calm down as quickly as possible.
2. Go to Your Happy Place
Thanks to the power of imagination, you don’t have to physically remove yourself from a chaotic environment or stressful situation to experience peace of mind.
You can visualize your happy place and instantly relax your mind and body. Don’t worry if you’re not particularly skilled at visualization or have difficulty conjuring up vivid good-feeling images.
You can think of a serene environment you’ve been to or seen somewhere. For example, a cozy cabin in the woods with a crackling fire or a private beach with white sand and clear blue water. You might even recall what it feels like to spend quality time with your significant other or the feeling you get when you play with your pet.
Whatever happy image you call up on the screen of your mind, try to add sounds, smells, and textures to evoke the feeling of being in that scenario.
The more you practice visualizing your go-to happy place, the easier it is to relax and become calmer when stress comes knocking.
3. Take Time to Bask in the Present Moment
Modern life’s fast-paced, hectic, and demanding lifestyle can easily leave you overwhelmed and stressed.
Finding time for rest, relaxation, and self-care can be difficult when juggling work, family, and other responsibilities. Of course, inner peace will remain elusive unless you create time to take care of your mind.
The good news is that you can pause and turn your attention inward for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. Use those minutes to focus on the present moment. Forget about past worries and future fears; just live in the moment and enjoy your now, even if for a couple of minutes.
But exactly what should you be doing when focusing on the now?
Notice the little things around you, like the birds in the sky, the sweet aroma or delicious taste of your meal, the innocent laughter of a child, or your partner’s loving touch.
Just give your attention to whatever is happening in your now rather than your hopes, dreams, fears, and worries.
By being mindful of what’s happening presently, you release the unnecessary pressures and rush of modern life. Do this as often as possible to cultivate inner peace and promote relaxation.
4. Let Go of Things That No Longer Serve You
One of the reasons people experience internal turmoil is not recognizing when to let go or failing to surrender when things are beyond their control. Not letting go can cause unnecessary suffering and steal your inner peace.
If you’re looking to experience the opposite of stress, you must stop fixating on particular outcomes. Give up the need to hold onto things that no longer serve you, including material possessions, relationships or friendships, and situations.
It is okay to strive for what you want and give your best while at it. But forcing things to go your way can easily lead to frustration and disappointment.
If you struggle with surrendering, I suggest reading this article to learn how to let go of things that no longer serve you.
5. Create Time for Self-Love
Liking yourself goes hand-in-hand with experiencing greater peace of mind. Self-love means you are happy with who you currently are and accept who you are becoming. Although you strive for improvement, you are content with your station in life and make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in.
To increase your sense of life satisfaction, it is important to carve out time as often as possible to focus on and care for yourself.
There are many ways to practice self-care, and you don’t have to break the bank to do them.
You may treat yourself to a long, relaxing bath, get a nice massage, or take short breaks throughout the day. Regardless of how simple or grand the activity is, being intentional about caring for yourself is the most important thing.
6. Love Unconditionally
Unconditional love ― loving without expecting anything in return ― is the opposite of conditional love, just as inner peace is the opposite of stress.
Practicing unconditional love is a difficult thing for many people. Yet, when you’re not expecting others to reciprocate your kindness, it frees you to love without fear and help others with no strings attached.
Hoping to get something in return for showing love can lead to unmet expectations. And if we’re being honest, unmet expectations are often the reason for resentment, unhappiness, conflict, and inner suffering in many relationships.
Consider this tip if you struggle with unconditional love: serve strangers, especially those you’re less likely to meet again or who can’t possibly reciprocate your kindness. This way, you condition your mind to not expect anything in return.
7. Believe That All Is Well
You’ve heard this many times: worrying isn’t helpful. If anything, it robs you of peace of mind and opens the door wide for insomnia, anxiety, depression, and unpleasant physical symptoms.
Instead of worrying about the realities you don’t like (and can’t really change), remind yourself that you’ve weathered the storm up to this point, and you’ll get through even the toughest of times if you stay positive, optimistic, and hopeful.
Believe that you’re safe and loved, and let the thought of everything working out in your life warm your heart enough to dispel worrisome thoughts.
Achieving Inner Peace Is Possible, Even in a Chaotic World
Contentment and peacefulness don’t mean you can’t be excited about what you want. Instead, this state of being can help you make choices that bring balance to your life rather than unnecessary pressure.
If you apply the simple practices I share in this article, you will enjoy the opposite of stress, even if your world is filled with stress triggers.