Six Ways to Get Centered, When Chaos Surrounds You

When spinning out of control, instinct guides you to grab onto whatever you can use to control the situation.  Why doesn’t this work? Well, controlling medical emergencies, workplace distress, current events, family drama, weather disasters, traffic jams, and the behavior of friends and colleagues just isn’t possible. There is so little you can actually control.

Don’t despair, because there is one important control within your power.  Your way of being is completely under your control, including your emotional responses to what happens around you.

Rather than trying to control chaos, a more effective strategy is to be centered like the calm eye of the storm.  This can be both proactive and reactive.  Being centered before things spin out of control helps you to be more resilient when chaos begins.  After chaos takes over, doing centering practices are a healthy alternative to falling into chaos.

Here are six things you can do to be more centered. 

Breathe. Slowly. Repeat.

Take 1 slow breath, 3 slow breaths, or better yet, 5 slow breaths! You only need 30 to 60 seconds. Start by breathing in slowly. Pay attention to your breath. Breathe out slowly. Repeat. If you get dizzy, your are probably breathing a bit too slowly,so return to your normal breath for a while then try again.  (Link to a guided breathing exercise)


If you notice yourself starting to spin along with the chaos around you, simply stop. You can do this literally by standing still, or by telling yourself or others to simply wait a minute. Use that moment to consider what’s going on and decide how you want to respond.

Feel the earth

Getting grounded is a good prologue to getting centered.Wherever you are, imagine you can sense roots expanding from the bottom of your feet to the heart of the earth. Or better yet, get outside and feel the earth beneath your feet. If you can, dance, run, walk or do something active outdoors.



Consider what’s good about your current experience of chaos. Journaling, meditating, and talking with friends and colleagues can help find the goodness in a situation. Be grateful for whatever is good, or is working well, or might support a positive outcome. Now, expand upon it.

Run away

Are you unhappy about the chaotic place you are in? Fight or flight is a natural response to stress. Visualizing where you want to be is a healthy way to run away when the going gets tough. Take a moment of respite by visualizing your favorite place. It might be the ocean, a clear blue sky, the top of a mountain, or a cozy chair in your own home. Even if you aren’t there in person, your body will respond to your visualization as if you were. This type of guided meditation gives you at least a few moments to enjoy the relaxation response’s physiological effects on your equilibrium.

Bring nature to you

If you can’t get outside, bring nature inside to wherever you are. Plants, flowers, prints and paintings, nature patterns in textiles,and a screensaver showing nature videos can all help.

Being centered as much as possible helps you to be more resilient to chaos but it takes a conscious effort! Choose two or three centering practices that appeal to you, and do them often.

If you are able to commit more time to centering, you might want to try some contemplative practices. Build on what works for you. If slow breathing helped consider trying one of the many forms of guided imagery or meditation. If being with nature centered you, dedicate 10 to 20 minutes a day to walking or sitting outside, with plants, or with a nature video. 

If it’s too late because chaos already surrounds you, centering practices will still help. Pick one and try it!

You are your own guardian, so you will know which centering practice is safest and most applicable to you and your situation.

Friends, in the comment section below please share what helps you to be centered!

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