Staying Zen in our crazy-ass world


Lately, I’ve been craving the feeling of normalcy. Of relaxation. Of calm.

Over the past few months, even in my downtime, even in the moments I’m supposed to be tranquil (i.e. when I’m in my bathrobe with a glass of red wine)— I’m all wound up. The news is on and I can’t stop thinking about everything that I have to do. Pronto.

To say the least, the past few months have been a chaotic whirlwind on many different levels.

First, there’s the stress of staying sane during the holidays (family overload, food overload, New Year New Me overload). Then, there’s been all this crazy shit in terms of our actual safety as a society (re: Twitter). And somewhat related to that madness, there’s this constant overhanging feeling of “Should I be doing More?” (i.e. “Protests are the new brunch”).

Some days, it does feel like everything we’ve ever known is shifting beneath our feet.

I think because of that, I’ve been longing to create more calming escapes in my daily life. I’ve done more yoga (and actually wanting to do it — not just because it seems “good” for me). I’ve been meditating at least 3 times a week (by choice!). I’ve been writing in my journal.

And, I’ve felt more grounded than ever.

Since I’m not some crunchy hippie these activities are somewhat new to me. So, I’ve put together some of the ways I’ve been keeping my peace in our crazy-ass, ever-changing world.

I think we all need it.


As a Brand New Adult, it’s hard enough to find an apartment without mice or cockroaches, let alone build a sacred space. And, when you’re barely around in said apartment, creating a sanctuary seems even less important.

But, as your life feels like it’s spinning out of your control, having a space that encourages relaxation and calm isn’t just nice — it’s necessary.

In our forever-connected, seemingly even more crazy world, “turning off” at the end of your day leads to better productivity and better health. Besides protecting you from scary things like cancer or stroke, finding time to relax can even increase your sex drive (yeah, I see you).

But, how can you create a *sanctuary* without moving in to the West Elm store?

First: plants. I’ve always been big on keeping some fresh flowers in my apartment. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with big hanging plants, succulents and cacti (mostly because they require very little care).

Also, I think it’s really important to stay organized. Typically, the cleanliness of my apartment is directly dependant on my mood. But sometimes — it could work in the opposite direction. If I keep my apartment organized, I usually feel like I’ve done at least one good thing that day. The first step: make your bed as soon as you wake up.


Hey, yoga isn’t for everyone.

Maybe your Zen moment happens while cooking (or eating). Maybe it’s reading before bed. Maybe it’s even just vegging in front of the T.V. — this is a no-judgement zone here.

Try out a bunch of different things until you find the right fit for You Right Now.

Your needs change over time. Maybe you hated meditation in college, but now it’s a mental escape. As I mentioned earlier, for a while I only went to yoga classes every so often, because I thought it was “good for me.” At that time in my life, I was only sitting down for 2 hours a day, and I had a plethora of time to myself (oh, college).

Now that I sitting in a chair all day, and “me time” starts at 7p.m, yoga has become my savior — if only for the fact that I could lay down in fetal position without looking like a crazy person.

You change. So should your relaxation techniques.


What happens on the days when your meetings went like crap, and the trains are only running local and your team ordered pizza for lunch?

You might feel like you want to throw all your so-called Zen habits out the door.

I know, I’ve been there. But, those are the moments when you need relaxation the most. Those are the times that your body and mind are craving a little tranquility.

For me, it was helpful to set a goal related to my new Zen habits. In the new year, I told myself I would try to meditate three times a week. I picked certain days that I thought would work best in my schedule, and I made a mental note: Find ten minutes for meditation.

And, when I would decide to get drinks that night instead, I knew I’d have to find some other time that week to meet my goal.

Of course, we’re all Human. There are going to be days and weeks (hopefully not months) when you feel crazy. You will be overwhelmed sometimes, and yoga won’t be able to fix it.

But, as long as we’re mindful about staying sane in this crazy-ass world, I think we’ll be alright.

soulKatina Mountanos