Life can be complicated, can’t it? Sometimes we feel that we are rushing from one activity or crisis to another, putting out fires as they turn up. Are you stressed out over money problems or family issues? Are you anxious about an Ebola epidemic? Are you trying to balance a full-time job with full-time family responsibilities? Has one of your siblings or friends done you wrong and the aftermath isn’t over yet; etc.? Excessive anxiety only makes everything worse. Anxiety can contribute to insomnia, fatigue, overeating, a decrease in your body’s ability to fight off infection, and a short fuse, among other things. If you look in the self help section of any book store or library you will find many experts offering many different ideas for coping – some helpful like mindfulness, meditation, prayer, yoga, massage, and others impractical. (Massage! One of my all time favorites that doesn’t happen often enough. Another thing that works for me: a hot bubble bath with scented candles and a book, or not.) It seems like everyone is looking for that magic cure.
I am certain when I say there is no one cure-all. I sincerely think that a combination of techniques is helpful. (For myself, bubble baths, candles, massage, journaling, and prayer.) However, there are some other really simple things you can do to help gain peace of mind.
First, a quote from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The year is 1873 and the sage advice given then sure applies to today. “Don’t keep in a constant fret about things that may be annoying, or worry about things you can’t help. Troubles are not lightened by fretting. The true remedy is to keep cool, and try to master difficulties, and not let them master you.” Sometimes easier said than done, but definitely worth the effort.
Appreciating the good in your life helps you feel hopeful. Try thinking of every stumbling block as a lesson with a purpose. This will bring your anxiety level down a few notches. Remember that this too shall pass. Make small changes to work toward something better.
Stress is relieved by releasing energy. Self-examination can be helpful, but keeping everything inside and ruminating is not. Avoid these typical responses to being overstressed and/or overwhelmed: burying your head under the covers and hiding. This may provide a temporary respite, but it isn’t helpful long term. Don’t start or indulge in unhealthy habits like overeating sweets. (How did they know this is my most frequent maladaptive behavior? I swear to you, though I honestly don’t swear, nothing makes me feel better than sticking my face into a sack of chocolate and imbibing freely. Not good really. My growing belly, and behind, are a testimony to that.) Don’t mope.
Try the healthy and effective alternative: walking. Getting the exercise can decrease the anxiety because you are burning up excess, unproductive energy. You are also getting fresh air. You’ll feel better and then you will be prepared to make positive changes. Researchers have found that even a 10 minute walk can lift depression to a degree. 10 minutes may not seem like much, but it is a start. Clearing your head will help you think clearer.
There is a high likelihood that there are too many demands being made of you and you are pulled in 10 different directions at once. Slow down. Say, “No,” without feeling guilty. Sometimes you can’t do it all and that is okay. Oftentimes we have to choose between equally good things, and it’s hard to decide. But for your sanity and well-being cut back and don’t feel guilty when you say no. I really have to work on this one. I dislike feeling as if I am disappointing someone. Seriously though, we can’t be Wonder Women all the time.
And something I have talked about frequently, de-clutter. Clutter is really stress-inducing. Get rid of things.
Set aside time in your busy day to do some deep, slow breathing while doing nothing for even a few minutes. Calmness can be a reality in our lives.
Take 5 and thrive, folks. You’ll be glad you did.
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