I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

joy

client tips

expat life

TRAVEL

it's personal

sessions

photography tips

read more

categories

simplicity

the Archives

More Categories

hello!

I'm Helena

Resources

Check out all my favorite photography gear, travel must-haves, resources, books I love, business hacks and so much more!

let's see 'em!

Enter:

Be Notified When I Post a New Blog Post

layflat albums

photo cards

family albums

view here

view here

view here

my favorites

20% off code

HELENAW

When Life is Out of Control

Nothing in life is ever certain, and it’s natural to feel grief when life is out of control, when the world around you is also out of control (yeah, I’m lookin’ at you Covid-19). Because let’s be honest: the world has never been certain. No one can ever escape uncertainty, including the rich and powerful. As Murphy’s Law states, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

While nothing in life is ever, ever certain, you can choose to focus on what you are certain about. During challenging times, I love to dive inward and remind myself of my values. I find that doing tasks that you can control such as washing your hands, drinking water and keeping hydrated and taking your pup out for a walk are all simple to-dos that can bring a sense of control when we feel overwhelmed.

Here are my favorite 10 must-dos to help you feel in control when life is out of control

Clean the House

When life feels out of control, I know one thing that will automatically help me feel more in control of my situation and that is…cleaning!! Pulling out my rubber gloves and scrubbing a sink connects me back to my body and the task at hand. A sparkling, clean and clutter-free house automatically makes us feel more at ease and relaxed. And we can absolutely control our home’s cleanliness.

Organize and Declutter Your Possessions

Cleaning directs me to my next point – organize and declutter your possessions! An easy and practical way to feel more in control of your life is by downsizing and organizing your belongings. Go through your cabinets, closet, and drawers and take out anything that either isn’t essential and vital to your daily living or doesn’t bring you true joy. And yes, while you’re at it, you best not be avoiding that dreaded junk drawer! I promise you, you’ll feel so much more at ease and in control when you’ve tackled it. Now, get to organizing!

Move Your Hands

Moving your hands is a great way to feel in control when life feels out of control. Using manual dexterity by grasping and manipulating objects forces us to calm down and focus on the task in front of us. Specific tasks I love This brings me to my next point which is to….

Pick up a Craft or Hobby!

 Using our hands to work a craft or make something is quite soothing when we are feeling stressed and out of control. Growing up as a kid, I remember my grandmother often working in her craft shed cutting yarn, ribbon and lace together to create these simple and wonderfully old-fashioned potpourri jars. Just like watering her vegetable garden, her crafts and hobbies were a way to gain clarity and peace – in even the most stressful of times. I love dabbling in crafts and hobbies, in fact for me, that’s what life is all about! When I feel life is out of control, like right now during this Covid-19 pandemic, I especially like to feel in control by watercolor painting, journaling and making my own crystal jewelry. You may also enjoy sewing, coloring or knitting!

Bake Bread or Learn a New Recipe

One of my dearest friends loves to bake bread from scratch! While I personally do not enjoy cooking or baking, I am always so inspired to see her use her free time flattening and kneading the dough, sprinkling different herbs on it and then watching it rise in the oven. I know cooking, baking and trying out new recipes brings many people comfort, including my husband! During this Covid-19 self-isolation lockdown, he has been cooking new recipes every night – from Indian food, to Thai and Mexican, every evening is different and new and gives him a sense of control in his life when life around us is out of control.

Pick Up a Book

In my opinion, the most important things to include in a home are books. Books allow us to escape, travel and enter new and uncharted worlds. Books help us feel safe and comforted. When you feel stress or feel a loss of control, you can always find something in a book that will make you feel more optimistic and hopeful. My recommendation is always to pick up a book.

Consume More Laughter

When we feel uncertain, unsafe and out of control with our environment, typically we turn to medical professionals, the government and the news. But it’s easy to lose our grounding when we consume hysteria in the media. While I absolutely believe in staying informed with the world news, why don’t you trade in the news for comedy? My husband and I are staying informed with Covid-19 updates by briefly scanning the New York Times in the morning and then watching the Late Show with Stephen Colbert together in the evening. It’s our ritual, and not only is it a great way to have quality time together, but we’re able to stay updated while laughing! Be conscious of what you are energetically taking in; consume more laughter. 

Control Your Breathing

What is one thing that you can control, no matter how out on control the world around you is? Easy. Your breathing.

Breathing and controlling your inhales and exhales connects you to the parasympathetic nervous system. When we relax and place our awareness on our breath, life around us immediately feels more manageable. We may not be able to control outcomes and the world around us, but we can control ourselves. Take a deep breath in for six seconds, a deep breath out for six seconds. Repeat 4 times. Afterwards, say “All is well” out loud.

Now, tell me that that doesn’t feel amazing.

Without our mental health, we have nothing to offer. This is why setting strict boundaries and prioritizing our self-care first and foremost is so essential.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to watch and control your thoughts. By focusing on your breathing and the constant stream of messages entering and exiting your mind, it allows you to separate “you” from your thoughts. Both of which are actually different. Being a witness to your mind rather than being directly in the emotions and thoughts is a great way to practice mindfulness and find healing and peace within. I’ve deeply committed my life to mindfulness and daily meditation and have experienced such an awakening both mentally and spiritually. Even if you aren’t spiritual, bypassing the mind and finding a sense of universal oneness with yourself is incredibly powerful.

Tip: If sitting in silence and watching your thoughts seems a bit much for you, try a walking meditation. Simple walk and watch your minder wander.

Two books that I love (and reread often!) that describe this process of “being” different from your mind/thoughts are Power of Now and The Untethered Soul. I definitely recommend reading them!

Notice the Simple joys

What you focus on grows. It’s no doubt about it. We all know that focusing on what you are grateful and appreciative of in your life leads to more appreciation and joy. I’ve written about this at length on the blog ( here and here) and on Youtube, but by acknowledging the good around us, by being present and noticing the simple little happiness-es that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, we intuitively feel more joy on a consistent basis.

By choosing to redirect our thoughts and emotions intentionally, time and time again, over and over, we create a habit and eventually a personality setpoint.

This is pure science – emotional refractory period. 

Challenge

Here’s a challenge for ya: write down 50 simple joys in your life that you are appreciative of right now in the present moment. Do a rampage of appreciation. Type ’em out quickly in an Instagram caption, a Facebook post, or a word doc. Scribble them down in a journal, You can even make a video of them like I did here! Automatically, you will feel good. Trust me on this, and…

remember that it’s the simplest and smallest of pleasures that add up to consistent joy. 

If you feel up to the gratitude challenge, share your simple joys with me using the hashtag #50simplejoyschallenge on Instagram!

I know that with Covid-19 pandemic, our lives are feeling more out of control than ever before. We feel uncertain of where we are heading, unsure of what our futures now hold. And that’s okay. It’s okay and well to feel this way. I know, I do! But recognizing what we can control in the present moment, given our current circumstances, is the first way to taking a single step, just like Princess Anna had, to doing the next right thing. 

All is well within,

xoxo Helena

 

 

10 Things to Do to Help You Feel in Control When Life is Out of Control

March 20, 2020

Enter:

Receive my latest blog posts via email

Get access to the latest Simple Joys blog posts as soon as they're posted!

I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

hello friends

meet the blogger

follow the daily

adventures

Featured on:

Living France Magazine

Airy Fairy Feminist Podcast

Betrothed Magazine

Daily Dog Tag

Amor Latino Unveiled

resources

Check out all my favorite photography gear, travel must-haves, resources, books I love, business hacks and so much more!

let's read 'em!

Studio Updates

from helena

Sign up for Helena's newsletter to get instant early access to upcoming session dates as soon as they come out and the annual Fall "minis" - only available for those on the client list

let me at that newsletter!

Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

Explore

ABOUT

PORTFOLIO

MEET HELENA

PRICING

TRAVEL

CONTACT

BLOG

FAVORITES

back to top


© 2016-2020, Helena Woods Photography, All rights reserved | France, New England, New York City, Massachusetts, Connecticut