9 Positive Habits to Reduce Stress and Anxiety & Find Inner Peace

How to find inner peace

Hey, I'm Emilie!

A certified life coach, meditation instructor, and spiritual entrepreneur. I’m here to help you create a vibrant life around your higher purpose and heart’s desires. 

Peace of mind is defined as “a mental state of calmness or tranquility, a freedom from worry and anxiety.” (Dictionary.com)

If you’re reading this article, my guess is that you aren’t fully feeling that way.

I can sympathize with you because I’ve been feeling a bit off lately, too.

Being a meditation teacher, it’s not easy to admit that feelings of anxiety due to the uncertainty of the future have been creeping into my mind too, and meditation alone hasn’t been enough to make me feel better.

A few weeks ago, as the anxiety began to affect my general mood and sleep quality, I started to look for ways to feel better.

In this article, I share nine simple practices that worked and have helped me regain— I wouldn’t say all, but a good chunk of— my peace of mind. 

Mindful Morning Routine

Inner Peace Tip #1: Start Your Day with an Intention

Not very long ago, a friend told me about her habit of setting an intention in the morning, just as she does at the beginning of a yoga class (she’s a yoga teacher).

Before going to bed at night, she checks in with herself and evaluates how well she has honored her intention throughout the day.

I loved the idea and began doing it too.

When I wake up each morning, I keep my eyes closed for a minute and firmly set my intention of how I want to show up that day.

I don’t say, “Today, everything will flow smoothly and go as planned,” because that’s outside of my control.

Instead, I may say, “Today, I’ll smile and send good vibes to everyone who crosses my path” – that’s something that’s under my control.

I also write down my intention on a piece of paper and keep it on my desk to see it often; otherwise, I tend to forget about it.

I believe the best intentions — those that are more likely to bring us peace of mind — relate to how we can be the greatest version of ourselves and serve others.

As Deepak Chopra once said:

“The highest intention comes from love and compassion … when our intentions come from a place of love and compassion, then we have the power of the universe.”

Peace of mind

Inner Peace Tip #2: Make Sure You Are Focusing on the Right Things

Something that brings me a lot of peace (and I’ve talked about it several times on this blog) is to ask myself these three questions regularly:

Question 1) If my time on this planet— in this life— came to an end right now, what would I regret not having done, experienced, accomplished, and become?

Question 2) If I knew I had only six months to live, how would I use the time I have left?

Question 3) Based on my answers to the previous questions, how can I make the most of the time I have today?

I like to answer the first two questions about once a month and the last one daily.

Answering these three questions makes me feel more at peace because it reminds me of what truly matters while making my mundane problems a lot less important.

It also forces me to focus on what I can do and how I want to show up today instead of worrying about the future.

Feel at peace

Inner Peace Self-Love Tip #3: Shake It Off (with Music)

Something else that has helped me deal with anxiety is to “shake it off”— yes, I mean literally shaking my body.

Shaking helps release tension and return the body to its normal homeostasis (aka equilibrium).

Animals do it instinctively after a life-threatening situation – like the gazelle after being chased by (and having escaped from) a hungry lion. The gazelle shakes the stress off and returns to its normal activities.

It works for humans too!

I had heard people talking about this before but never tried it myself.

Now, when something stresses me out, I play progressive trance music and shake my body for a couple of minutes. Wow, that feels good!

At peace

Inner Peace Tip #4: Make a List of “Joys”

Rob Dial of the Mindset Mentor Podcast once told the story of one of his friends (let’s call him Mike) who lost his job at Facebook just before the company went public. Long story short, Mike lost millions of dollars and, as a result, sank into depression.

When Rob asked him what he did to get out of depression, he answered, “I made a list of things I enjoyed doing. Then, every day, I focused on doing as many of the things on my list as I could.”

After hearing this story, I immediately created my list of “little joys.”

For example, I wrote that I enjoy watching the sunset, running at Mont-Royal Park, and going for long walks while listening to podcasts.

This simple idea is genius!

First, you know exactly what to do when you feel stressed (or sad or angry) to feel better. You don’t have to think about it (once you’ve made your list); you can just pick an item on your list and do it.

Second, it forces you to focus on what you can do right now to feel better rather than worry about the future.

How to be at peace

Inner Peace Tip #5: Do 5 Minutes of Loving-Kindness

The Dalai Lama said:

“I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease.”

I’ve also been feeling a bit angry lately. When you let it roll, anger – just like any other draining emotion – can quickly start eating you alive.

Luckily, I knew exactly what to do to stop feeling angry (or anxious or depressed): practicing Loving-Kindness Meditation.

I’ve written an article in which I explain how to practice this technique step-by-step, but here’s a “simplified version.”

First, you can think of a person — usually, I like to choose someone I don’t know very well, like a neighbor or the clerk at the supermarket — and, while holding their picture in your mind, send them wishes of goodwill. Wish them to be happy, safe, and at peace, imagining that your intention makes them feel better.

You can do this for 2-5 minutes.

I’ve been doing this for five minutes daily over the past couple of weeks, and it has helped me feel far less angry and more at peace.

Inner Peace Tip #6: Get Out of “Victim Mode”

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” –Mark Twain

I love this quote from Mark Twain, which reminds us that most of our suffering happens in our minds, not in real life.

I needed to hear it again recently because I had been worrying about what would result from the pandemic: Where will I live? What kind of work will I do? Who will be my friends?

I realized that constantly worrying about these things wasn’t helpful and was destroying my peace of mind, so I decided to be more proactive and started journaling about solutions instead.

Now, in the evening, I write down my concerns and the things that bother me.

Then, for each of the 2-3 biggest sources of stress, I brainstorm ten solutions.

For example, I am pretty annoyed with all the restrictions (ex: curfew) in Montreal right now, so I’ve been brainstorming ways to entertain myself and make my life more enjoyable within what’s currently possible. These are things like watching the sunset at a different location every week or trying some of the new vegan recipes people share on Tik Tok.

Thinking of solutions forces me out of victim mode and reminds me that I’m the creator of my reality. It’s empowering, and it helps me feel more at peace.

Positive habits

Inner Peace Tip #7: Drift into Sleep in Peace

Anxiety was also affecting my sleep quality. There were nights when I stared at the ceiling until 2-3 am. Even when I did fall asleep earlier and slept seven hours, I often felt tired upon waking up, as if I had been stressing out all night.

Luckily, there’s an exercise I used to do to fall asleep faster when I had trouble sleeping a few years ago. I hadn’t done it in a long time and decided to start doing it again.

Verdict: it still works! Here’s how to do it:

1) As you go to bed at night, close your eyes and scan your entire day in your mind from the moment you woke up in the morning to the present, and recall all the little things that made you feel good. It doesn’t have to be significant; it can be something as simple as drinking a good cup of coffee, a good book you are reading, a comment someone left on your Instagram post, or anything else that was positive in your day.

2) For each moment, take five to ten seconds to feel appreciation.

3) When you’re done scanning your day, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, repeat the exercise until you do. Try to find even more subtle moments that made you happy.

Because you’re doing this exercise just before falling asleep, it seems to start a wave of positive feelings that continues to flow throughout the night. You’ll probably notice that you sleep better and wake up happier in the morning.

Unless you have insomnia, you’ll likely fall asleep quickly and probably even before completing the exercise.

How to find peace of mind and happiness

Inner Peace Tip #8: Meditation

Although my usual meditation practice wasn’t enough to completely regain my peace of mind, it’s been a huge part of the solution.

If you don’t have a meditation practice, I recommend giving it a try.

You can take my free class to learn the easiest and most popular meditation technique. This technique doesn’t require that you “calm your mind” or “stop thinking”— some people even call it “effortless meditation.”

Mindful Morning Routine

Inner Peace Tip #9: Learn About Stoicism

Another thing that has helped me regain my peace of mind was to learn about Stoicism; these ancient Greek philosophers seemed to have understood the key to inner peace.

I started listening to The Daily Stoic Podcast with Ryan Holiday and Stoicism for a Better Life with Anderson Silver daily while going for long walks.

I even created a morning routine based on Stoic principles, which I wrote about in this article. This new morning routine has been of great help in feeling more at peace.

What Do You Think?

If you have other recommendations for reducing stress, anxiety, and other draining emotions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.

There are never “too many” solutions to feel better.

Also, let me know if you try some of the practices mentioned in this article; I would love to know your thoughts on them.

Thank you for being here and reading until the end.

Have a beautiful week.

Emilie

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