Stress is an everyday fact of life for many people around the world. The pressure of work, family, faith and life come together to form that perfect storm of tightness in your chest, inability to sleep, irritability and the feeling that life is spiraling wildly out of control. Anxiety has come to live in your house. Here are five easy steps that may help to reduce your anxiety.
- Clean is Good. Maybe you’re sick of hearing it, but the clutter in your life has to go. If you’re surrounded by mess, or live with a messy person, you are going to subject yourself to stimulus overload. Take a space and thoroughly clean it, rid it of all unnecessary clutter and let yourself relax. Especially if you have little ones at home, there must be an adult space where you’re not stepping on toys, crayons or hosting any wall drawing events.
- Plant your flag. Once you’ve picked that place to clean and refresh, plant the idea in your head of staking claim. Find a place to read, watch a sporting event or have a cold drink in relative peace – but start by carving out a space that is clean, fresh and that your brain equates with calming feelings. Here is a note – if you’re already a clean fanatic, you might try adding a fresh grouping of flowers or a live plant, or changing scented candles, room fresheners, etc. You’re attempting to retrain your senses – sight, tough, smell and sound – to equate this space to relaxation. My private space for meditation is in my formal living room that isn’t used all that often, amidst antiques that I love and relatively no clutter. I keep the traffic in my space to a minimum. My husbands space, however, is lovingly nicknamed “the man cave” and plays host to the family every night. It’s off limits when he’s napping on the leather sofa, however, his own declaration of “my space.”
- Message in a Bottle. Consider a journal for your thoughts. This is pretty simple, and still works well. I have a private journal where I write everything that crosses my mind on some days, nothing on others. You might consider using free options online, like WordPress or BlogSpot, for an web-accessible journal – only, do yourself a favor and either change the settings options to keep unwanted onlookers from reading your stuff, or make it private all together. I also carry a beautiful leather bound book with me everywhere that was a gift from my best friend – and in it are the drawings, notes, thoughts and feelings that I chose to put there. There are funny bits of life, pieces of paper, photos…lots of stuff.
- Letting Go. I practice being grateful, especially with the leather-bound book that I mentioned above. This book is full of what I want to keep. It is full of affirmations toward family, friends, places that we’ve been where life memories are created. It has movie ticket stubs from when my girls were only little children – now twenty years old. I go here when I want to feel connected to my past, and I continue to build that book with new additions. I practice being grateful over those people I have loved so much. Conversely, My online journal is full of what I want to let go of. As I journal, I imagine that I have put that piece of myself onto paper and that paper into a bottle. Once finished I imagine sealing it and throwing it into the ocean, letting it go and setting myself free from it’s control. I spend a lot of time on that imaginary pier some days, as I work through my own anxiety and grief resolution. Again, you need to put these thoughts in a safe space, and only trust their content to those whom you want to have access to your innermost thoughts. My therapy partner has access to mine, as does my life coach. It helps me be accountable for moments of depression and self defeating behaviors that add to my anxiety.
- Life Coaching. If your anxiety is bad enough that you’ve checked into it medically, or take medication for it, you are in the company of millions of people with chronic, unresolved anxiety. Consider a life coach – but not just any person. You might start with someone like Tony Robbins, who can help you learn to change your state, listen to your own heart and be fully who you were meant to be. A good life coach doesn’t tell you what to do, they help you discover what you were meant to do in life and go after it. What self defeating behaviors do you employ that hinder your growth? Are you truly happy with your life in the deepest parts of your being? If so, how do you grow that? If not, why? Life coaches help with concepts of regret, fear and motivation. If you’re truly interested in a life coach, my personal pick (and coach) is online at Shurr Success.
Anxiety is a feeling that is trying to tell you something about your life, your passion and your dreams. Instead of fighting it, listen to the elements of what it has to say. Your concerns for relationship, money, health and life are all valid – but what you do with them is your own choice. Positive thinking alone will not help you change your internal belief system, and this impacts how your think and feel.
The first realization that will help you reduce your anxiety level – it’s your choice.