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Anxiety is part of our human experience.
And it’s hard because we do not get a manual on how to manage the things life throws at us.
We all share the experience of anxiety, so you’re not alone. As humans, we do not like discomfort and tend to do a lot of things to avoid feeling our anxiety or looking at it. Your anxiety can shut you down, hype you up where you’re not paying attention, run a mile a minute, create health issues, and negatively impact the relationships you care about.
The good news is that your anxiety does not have to control you. Once you take some time to look at it directly, this painful experience is actually an opportunity for growth and transformation. Anxiety is a loud messenger nudging us to pay more attention to our internal experiences.
As a therapist, I support people who are stuck between intense worry about speaking their truth and being a nice person. They make others feel comfortable at the expense of their own thoughts and feelings. They struggle with anxiety in the form of overthinking and worrying about what others think about them, and they have a fear of disappointing their spouse, family, or boss. This cycle of anxiety keeps them in a constant state of stress and worry, leaving them tired, angry, and exhausted.
Personally, I have found these techniques to be extremely helpful with my own moments of anxiety. Practicing a combination of these techniques helps me think more clearly, calm down, find more pleasure in my day, and connect with myself and the people I love. By facing my anxiety head-on, I am able to calm down and transform my anxiety into a moment of empowerment.
Here are five tips on how to slow down the hustle and bustle of anxiety:
1. Focus on your breathing
We are adaptive creatures. Our breath is automatic, which is a perfect thing—because, if you had to think about breathing, that would be hard.
When we’re in our groove and balancing out work, family, kids, and that new task that we took on, we sometimes adapt to the environment and forget to connect to ourselves. Focusing on your breath is a way to connect to yourself, connect to how you’re feeling, and give yourself a little break from the hustle and bustle. Focusing on your breathing seems counterintuitive, but I invite you to practice it and give it a try.
You can do this in your car, you can do it while making an appointment, while listening to music or an audiobook, on the train. These are all great times to focus on your breath and connect with yourself.
2. Take time to stretch
In our busy lives, a body adapts to the environment and we do a lot of sitting, standing, and then some more sitting. One way to increase your energy flow and connect to your body is to schedule stretching breaks. You can put a timer on your phone to remind yourself to stretch.
Stretching can be simple. You get up, put your hands above your head, move side to side, take a couple of deep breaths, and notice what you’re feeling.
3. Find something that helps you zone
Creative researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, notes that spending time in activities that make us lose track of time increases creativity and a sense of timelessness.
Sometimes, exercising can feel like a chore. But truly finding something that you want helps you think that it’s enjoyment versus exercise. I love jumping on my Bellicon trampoline. These are small trampolines you can put in your office or at your home.
It can be listening to some fantastic music and closing your eyes while you’re on the subway. I could be carving out 10 minutes to sketch or do some random art stuff during lunchtime. It doesn’t have to be anything; you can play.
4. Delegate some tasks
Sometimes, as extraordinary women, we tend to put a lot on our plate and think we have to do it all. Take stock of the things that are a priority for you to do and the things that you can ask for help with so that you have more free time to nourish yourself and what you want to do.
Letting go of tasks can be challenging. But, for example, it could be an opportunity for your spouse or your kids to give back and participate in their family and feel like they have a purpose in contributing.
5. Feed your passion
Once a month, permit yourself to try something new. It could also be to take that fun weekend vacation with your family or go on that golfing trip you’ve always wanted to take.
The more you allow yourself to connect with the things that help you feel alive, the more balanced your life will feel.
I hope you take good care of your heart!
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