Guest Contributor Mental Health

Finding Mindfulness in the Middle of Chaos

by Guest Contributor Pascale Atallah

We are heading towards the last quarter of 2020, and chances are you might be struggling to find mindfulness in the middle of chaos. So much has changed and looks different today, and we are all having to adapt to new ways of doing things. While this is heightened right now because we are experiencing it together and on a larger scale, the truth is, individually, we all experience chaos in our lives. That can be from giving birth, going through a breakup, moving, getting injured, caring for a sick family member… So when life around you is out of control, how do you find a sense of control and mindfulness? Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness does not equate drinking celery drinks, and sitting in silence for 4hrs straight. Mindfulness comes in small doses throughout the day. Here are a few tips you can use to create grounding and presence.

1- Re-define success:

The definition of success, in any area of our lives depends on the season of life we’re in and many times we forget to reflect and allow this definition to evolve. There are times where it’s easy to go to the gym everyday, hit our macros spot on, meal prep, meditate, journal, organize the house, play with the kids… <insert whatever is the equivalent of optimized success to you> and that’s awesome. But then again, there are times where that’s not possible. And here’s the thing, we can resist change, and stay inflexible to our systems, only to hit failure over and over again, or we can reflect and readjust our definition of success for our current season of life and to what’s achievable in the moment.

No need to have an all or nothing mentality. 


So in this season of life, and as we go into the colder weather, holidays, kids “returning to school” and the uncertainties that come with COVID, what is YOUR new definition of success? 

2- Create a “to feel” list:

Everything we want to achieve in life, is because we believe we will feel better when we reach it and many times we end up deferring feeling good, until our conditions change. We want to lose weight to feel confident. We want to create structure to feel in control. We want to lift weights because we want to feel strong. We want to earn more money because we want to feel freedom. We want COVID to end so that we can go to what feels familiar and comforting. With that said, have you ever achieved a goal, yet a few days, weeks or months later, found yourself obsessing over something new? What if I told you, that you could start experiencing the feelings, before the conditions changed? For that, start creating every morning a “To feel list”, and throughout the day, notice events that achieve this feeling for you. That could be the sense of comfort that comes from holding a hot cup of coffee. The sense of control you get when you organize your shelves. The freedom you experience from dropping your chores for the day and randomly exploring your neighborhood. Eventually, you will start feeling everything you want in your life despite what is happening around you and you will create your own sense of safety in the present moment. 

3- Build anchors throughout the day:


It’s so easy to get on auto-pilot and constantly live in the past or the future during times of chaos. By creating anchors throughout the day, we are able to bring ourselves back to the present moment. You might be wondering what an anchor is? It’s exactly what it sounds like. An anchor is a structure that is fixed, that disrupts your patterns and around which you build the rest of your day. For me, my anchor is training. Training brings me back to center no matter what is happening around me. For some, prayer is a way of anchoring. Other anchors are breathing, music/dancing breaks, mindful walks where you are unplugged from your phone and you pay attention to the environment around you, journaling, water breaks and meal times. 

4- Play:

When chaos strikes, we are quick to get in doing mode. We are swept away by the stress and the momentum of everyone and everything around us. It feels like we are in a constant race. The good news is, it doesn’t have to feel this way. One of the best ways to find presence in the midst of chaos, is to unplug and play!!! Get reconnected with your inner-child. Did you forget how to play? Find something you used to love doing as a kid: painting, playing and instrument, video games, puzzles, climbing trees… anything that will put you in a flow state and will capture your attention for a long period of time. 

5- Unplug: 

Whether it is the news or social media, in today’s world things have gotten out of control. We are previewed to an abundance of information meant for us to react emotionally to and in many cases without any truth or data to back it up. As humans, it is completely normal to find our energy split as we worry about what this or that can mean for us and for our future. While it’s important to be proactive and aware, it is also important to control what we give our attention to. By scheduling times to unplug and distance ourselves from the news and social media, we are able to recenter ourselves, create clear thinking and tap into our heart center.

6- Do something outside of yourself:

Photo credit Matthias Zomer

This past week-end Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and I’m sure like me, you have been seeing her quotes all over the internet. One in particular stood out to me: “If you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside of yourself, something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you”. Volunteering and random acts of kindness are a great way to do that. So everyday, ask yourself, “who did I help today?”. It’s incredible what shift can happen when we take the focus away from ourselves.    

Today, mindfulness can be a scary buzz word that makes you think you have to dissociate yourself from your life and environment to experience it. That is very far from the truth. When we learn to bring all parts of ourselves and our energy to whatever moment we are in, we are able to navigate all sorts of challenges and experience the ultimate level of mindfulness. 

Which one will you try and what resonates the most with you?

Learn a bit about Pascale:

Pascale Atallah holds a PhD in chemistry and works as a sustainability advisor. She has mentored and coached many in the past 15 years to find balance in their lives. Using her extensive knowledge and tool-box which includes neuro-linguistic programming and cognitive behavioral therapy her goal is to educate people on how to build a balanced approach to goal setting so that they can fully enjoy the present moment while also pursuing a thriving future.