Five Everyday Ways to Calm Down
Little Francis Falls Asleep is the story of one kid's search for rest. I think one of the reasons we can't find rest in today's world is that we run at such a frantic, nonstop pace. So here are some tips I've found helpful for calming down and remembering what really matters in life—and who can give us true rest.
Turn off the news for a while
Especially the political segments. Unsubscribe from that current events podcast, and maybe take the News app off your phone if you find it tempting to check it first thing in the morning (I did). It’s good to be aware of what’s going on in the world, but it’s very easy to be hyper-aware and consumed with frustration and fear at things that may or may not even happen. Figure out what a healthy rhythm of news awareness is for you — perhaps it’s reading the news once a day and praying for a bit after, perhaps it’s simply checking in on world events every once in a while. But let’s be real here: refreshing Twitter every five minutes isn’t good for anybody.
Go for a stroll
It seems simple—and so it’s easily forgotten—but going for a nice, long walk can be a wonderful emotional reset. Let your mind wander, look up at the clouds, take time to notice a bird chattering in a tree or a squirrel purloining some acorns. Pray for your neighbors, thank God for the daily blessings all around us, take some deep breaths. Or take a walk with a friend, and enjoy the rare treasure of a wide-ranging conversation with someone you trust. Even just taking time to stare out a window and look at the sky for a while can be remarkably refreshing.
Eat a meal and take a nap
I can’t count how many times I’ve been freaking out over one thing or another, feeling that nothing could possibly fix my situation. Then I ate some food and lay down for a while, and all of a sudden remembered that God is sovereign and that this world, though broken, is still full of wonders. I think of 1 Kings 19:1-8, wherein the prophet Elijah is overcome with despair, and the Lord gives him food, drink, and rest. Sometimes, you need to stop, eat, and lie down for a bit.
Read a book
Whether it’s taking in a Psalm, turning to a familiar passage of Scripture, or immersing yourself in an imaginative work of fiction, reading can take you out of yourself and remind you of the great wide world you live in — and the God who is weaving all our stories into a mind-boggling and beautiful tapestry.
Spend some time with children or animals
Seriously. Whether playing with a kid who doesn’t know what the word economy even means, or playing fetch with a dog who is so stoked to run after a scruffy old tennis ball, or even just walking to a pet store and looking at the guinea pigs munching on hay—you’ll be amazed how calm and restorative it is to simply hang around fellow creatures. What I love about animals and kids is that generally speaking, they don’t have anything to prove. They just do their thing, and seem to delight in everyday things that we adults take for granted. I think God has a lesson for us in that.
Born and raised in Southern California, Pip Craighead has been a lifelong student of film and literature. He's continually fascinated by the power of art and story as ways to experience the wonder of God and his creation—and this fascination is evident in Pip’s new children's book, Little Francis Falls Asleep.