We live in a time of so much change and chaos. We used to answer the question, “How are you?” with “I’m fine!” Now we respond, “I’m crazy busy! There aren’t enough hours in the day!”
Let’s face it. You’re stressed. How do you stop the anxiety and the constant worry and pressure that consumes your day? Here are six practical and easy ideas to help you create some instant calm.
Do More of What Makes You Feel Better
We’re all so different. The very thing that may increase one person’s stress may be the one thing that decreases yours. Pay attention to what makes you feel calmer and more centered. Common stress reducers include more exercise (even a stroll helps!) Also, listening to music, talking with a friend, being of service to others, spending time in nature, eating healthy meals on a regular basis and playing with your pets. What’s on your list? How could you do more of it every day?
Pay Attention to What Makes You Feel Worse
Just as we have things that make us feel better, we definitely have things that make us feel worse. What are your common triggers? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern. It may be the Sunday dinner with your family, or the Negative Nelly friend who constantly comes up with worst case scenarios involving you. If there’s someone or something that consistently steals your peace of mind, change it. It doesn’t mean you can no longer have dinner with your family or you have to ditch your friend, but think in advance what would change the dynamic in those common anxiety-producing situations.
Take an Intuition Interlude
Next time you catch yourself fraught with anxiety and upset about the subject of your worry, check in with your intuition. Get in the habit of asking questions of your intuition and expecting a reply. You might ask, "What could I do to feel calmer about this issue?" In response, you get an image of a quiet lunch in the park by your office. That’s one of the ways your intuition responds -- through images. Your intuition is connected to a higher wisdom that knows what you need. It will always lead you to peace, forgiveness and gratitude. Lastly, if all else fails, remember what humorist Mark Twain said: “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”
Switch the Channel on Worry
Worry is like any bad habit. It can be addictive. One small fear leads to another and another. Before you know it, you’ve imagined your life falling apart, not only now, but ad infinitum into your future. One of the ways to begin breaking any habit is to simply recognize you’re doing it! “Oops! There I go again…imagining not being able to pay my mortgage.”
But simply the recognition that you’re worrying isn’t usually enough to change it. What can you do to switch the channel? Ask yourself the question, “What could I do to feel better right now?” Or “How could I feel calmer?” Or even, “What would be fun today?” Listen for the answer and take action. If you’ve got a bad worry habit going on, you may need to be patient as you retrain your brain.
Be Kind to Yourself
When people feel bad their self-talk reflects it. “You screwed up. You always make the same mistake. You never learn.” On and on, we beat ourselves up. You need kindness, love and encouragement, not disparagement. You need a friend, not an enemy. Make sure your words and deeds are gentle and encouraging. Switch the channel on this self-talk. Grab your journal or a piece of paper and write down three things you like about yourself. It doesn’t need to be something big. It could be that you’re a good listener or a loyal friend. Perhaps you love animals and are kind to them. Maybe you’re a whiz at math or know a lot about technology. What do people say they like about you? Whatever it is, the important thing is to appreciate yourself for the little things you may take for granted.
When All Else Fails — Distract Yourself
If stress and anxiety are your common companions, you’ll need an arsenal of helpful weapons when the pressure hits. Think back to what makes you feel better. Collect some uplifting music and audiobooks on your smartphone. (They’re good to listen to when you’re lying awake at 3 AM filled with anxiety!) Also, have a list handy that includes inexpensive, fun things to do around your area and schedule time to do them. Find a hobby like painting, knitting or crafts. Who could you call that you enjoy being with? Plan a future date with them so you have something to look forward to. What makes life fun for you? Start there and keep going!