At my house this morning, a construction crew is removing a wall. That’s a very good thing—it’s something my husband and I have been planning and looking forward to for three years now. It does put a crimp in my workday, though—the usual peace of my home office isn’t available much lately.
Sometimes, it can feel like the world is an overly noisy place. Even a walk down a path or sidewalk can be dominated by both live and virtual conversations, not to mention traffic sounds and the ever-present chime, clink and ping of incoming text messages.
These past few weeks, while our renovation has been literally bringing this noise issue home, I’ve connected with a simple visualization that helps keep my inner peace intact, even when the din of the coffee shop or an unusually loud library conversation leave me wondering if I should have just stayed home to work in the construction zone.
Next time you are having trouble relaxing or concentrating in a noisy place—from a party to an airport to a rainy afternoon with the family—start by invoking these four pillars of successful stress management:
Pay attention to your breathing, even if you can’t hear it over the din. Just notice it for a few minutes.
Try to lengthen your breaths, particularly your exhales, to activate the part of your nervous system that regulates your stress and relaxation responses.
Mindfully make note of seemingly mundane details about the space you find yourself in. Noticing your surroundings connects you with your all senses and quiets your mind.
Close your eyes, even if for just a moment, to reduce one category of sensory input you can control.
Then, try this nature-based visualization to invite your mind to move past the noises that surround you and into that inner sanctum of calm, focused energy.
Imagine your mind as a broad and peaceful ocean, calmly and subtly undulating but mostly quite quiet. Now visualize the sounds around you as raging rivers charging and flowing toward the ocean. Observe the moment when the loud, crashing currents enter your consciousness through your ears, then quickly smooth out and dissolve into the vastness of the powerful, silent sea.
Might this image help you hear that inner voice that whispers, “Today can be a positive, productive day?”