Rocks balancing on other rocks to represent staying centered.

Staying Centered Amidst the Crap

Kristen Peairs
March 21, 2024
February 16, 2024

Let’s face it: life isn’t all chocolate and roses. Thorn bushes, potholes, and piles of poo exist too. Learning how to peacefully navigate through the challenging and icky is a life skill worth learning. Today, let’s talk about how to stay centered amidst the crap.

No matter where we go or what we do, there will occasionally be things that feel upsetting and disruptive. That’s part of being alive. Change is constant, and we certainly don’t have complete control of many changes that enter our lives. What we do have control over is how we handle those changes.

Below are some thoughts about how to experience a little more peace and ease during the journey.

1. Give Yourself Grace

When something unexpected or unpleasant happens and life as we know it changes, it’s normal to have feelings. Anger, sadness, rage, grief, and/or fear may come rushing in with their associated endorphins and brain-body responses. Our fight, flight, freeze, and fawn stress systems activate, and our brains experience a reduced ability to think rationally. At this stage, it’s essential to take time out to recover. Sometimes, feelings pass quickly. Other times, days, weeks, or months may be required. It’s important to remember to take care of ourselves in healthy ways, such as eating nourishing food, drinking fresh water, writing in a journal, meditating, walking in nature, and sleeping. All of these options are supportive of coming back into centered focus.

During stressors like the deaths of loved ones, job transitions, physical illness, and myriad other instances, giving ourselves the grace to fully process the hard feelings (rather than push through) can be a lifesaver.

2. Seek Support

When we’re going through something hard, it’s helpful to seek support. Sometimes, the support is already available, and we simply need to open up and let it in. Being human is a team effort. Embrace the resources.

Keep in mind that different kinds of support are needed at different times. Though it can feel like playing matchmaker to figure out which support is the best fit for the occasion, it’s worth taking the time to seek out the right resources.

Some ideas for sources of support are as follows.

Touch: Receiving a caring touch through a massage or hugs from loved ones can help soothe us in ways words cannot. Consider trying this option and notice the results that show up.

Listening and Talking: Putting ourselves in spaces where we feel fully heard can be a great gift. Not all people listen in the same way. Experiment by talking with different people to learn what kinds of listening feel best for which situations. Trusted friends, clergy members, and mental health professionals are great resources to tap into.

Environmental: The environments in which we spend time are part of our support system. Spending time in different environments can change our thoughts and energy levels. Try going out in nature, visiting a spa, going to the library, or traveling somewhere else that seems interesting. Each place will have its own vibe, so notice what feels like the best match for any given time.

Medical: Medical support is a valid direction to explore during challenging times. Doctors, psychologists, and other medical professionals are all available to assist. Not sure who might be helpful? Start with your doctor and go from there.

3. Learn How to Adapt

The one person we have complete authority to change is ourselves. If we are continually feeling stressed over the events going on in our lives, it’s worth investigating what we can do within our own minds and bodies to have a more peaceful experience. After all, it is how we react to stimuli that cause us discomfort. Adaptation typically involves noticing what is happening and learning how to respond differently.

For example, I used to feel agitated and angry when there was excessive noise in my work environment. Telling my colleagues to quiet down never yielded satisfying results, so I finally decided to consider how I could become more comfortable amidst the noise. Now, I have a variety of strategies that help me stay peacefully present. My strategies include earplugs, headphones, short breaks, blood sugar-balancing snacks, and time in nature.

4. Look for the Opportunities

Even though being in the crap generally feels crappy, stay alert for opportunities. A new resource, a different perspective, an altered route: all of these have the potential to take us down more pleasurable roads. For example, if the crap relates to an unhealthy job situation, then maybe the opportunity is to exercise confidence by filing out a claim with HR or, alternatively, choosing to become available for a new healthier job option.

Chaos and challenges can fuel positive decisions that help us learn new skills and take different actions.

5. Reflect and Evaluate

During and after these times of hardship, taking time outs to reflect and evaluate is important. When we reflect, we think back to what’s been going on. The practice of reflective journaling can be very helpful. In reflective journaling, we write answers to questions about what happened, how we handled it, and how we felt about what happened and how we handled it. We also write about what beliefs and/or experiences from our life may have influenced our actions. Yes, this may feel “deep,” but it is this type of thoughtfulness which assists us in learning, growing, adapting, and more confidently moving forward.

Once we have processed what’s been occurring and how we’ve been handling it, the next step is to evaluate what we want to do next. With all of the strategies we’ve been learning, we can consider how well we have used them and decide if they are making the difference we had hoped for. We can decide whether our work or relationship is still the right fit. We might have conversations with mentors, make pro/con checklists, and spend time bouncing thoughts off friends to obtain a clearer perspective.


To review, giving ourselves grace, seeking support, learning to adapt, looking for opportunities, and then reflecting in order to evaluate are the five tips for staying centered amidst the crap. Which tip resonates best with you?

Final Note: During the journey of seeking center amidst the chaos, remember that center is only ever a temporary state. It is the stuff that throws us off balance that keeps life dynamic and interesting. Knowing what our center is and being skilled at returning to it are key factors for navigating the ups and downs of life with resilience.

Kristen Peairs
Kristen Peairs
Kristen Peairs is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Professional Educator. Throughout her 20-year career, she has worked with many people suffering from a diversity of chronic health conditions. Understanding how food affects the brain and the whole body has been a key factor in the success of her healing strategies. At Nivati, she has researched, written, and filmed over 100 health and wellness videos for their content library. Kristen is currently writing a cookbook for people living with food allergies and intolerances.