“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Worry consumes mental energy and uses it for concerns that are usually completely out of our control. When anxiety strikes, ask yourself this question:
Is there anything at all that I can do right at this moment to fix, address or keep what worries me from happening?
Most of the time, you will find the answer to this question is “no.”
On the rare occasion when it is “yes,” you may notice that you’re not worried at all. Instead, you simply deal with the situation, and so use your mental energy effectively.
If you wish to lower your anxiety, you may benefit from centering techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga. For many, the serenity prayer has also been helpful:
May I accept the things that cannot be changed,
Have courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
Anxiety/worry is suffering, triggered by imaginary scenarios. Remaining calm and grounded within that which is in your control preserves mental energy, and so allows you to use it more effectively.
Take care of yourself
Whenever you board a flight you hear something very important: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Unless we do what is necessary to keep our own balance, we are not very effective at accomplishing what we set out to do. When you notice feeling down, anxious, irritable or stressed, it’s time to improve self-care. Ask yourself:
When was the last time I moved my body?
Exercise is a highly effective way to improve your emotional and physical health. On a physical level, your metabolism speeds up and you feel like you have more energy. Brain chemicals(dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine) that help you feel better are released during physical exercise. Of course there are also multiple benefits to your physical health.
According to studies discussed in the New York Times, seven minutes of a daily strenuous workout is all you need to stay healthy.
Am I getting enough sleep?
We live in a world of complicated schedules, which can make it difficult to create a regular sleep routine. However, sleep is very important for your emotional and physical wellbeing. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your ability to handle stress. Most doctors recommend between 6-8 hours of sleep. If it’s hard for you to fall asleep, or you suffer from broken sleep, a first recourse may be to follow recommendations of sleep experts.
How am I fueling my body?
Put bad in, get bad out. A poor diet affects both your physical and your mental health. When we are busy and stressed, we easily get caught in a vicious cycle of eating on the run, and turn to convenient, highly processed, unhealthy foods.
Take a moment to make a daily or weekly food plan. Make sure it contains plenty of whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Have I talked to a friend lately?
We are social beings. To feel good, we need to feel connected to people who can pick us up when we’re sad, offer another perspective or insight when we’re confused, and simply help us have fun. Friendships that work are balanced, a two-way street.
Make sure to call or visit a friend regularly.
Am I having fun?
Doing something enjoyable each day is part of a balanced life. All work and no play is a recipe for stress, which brings with it a cascade of physical, emotional and relational consequences. Please, for your own sake, the sake of your coworkers, and the ones you love: carve out some down time! Take up a hobby. Go for a walk. Dance. Laugh hard. Bike. Color. Paint. Draw. Play an instrument. Make sure your life is balanced between work and play.
Does my mind need more challenge?
Play games that sharpen your mental faculties and provide challenges. From memory games to crossword puzzles, the small, fun challenges these games present may help you become better equipped to deal with stress. Take a class to learn a new skill. Learn another language. A mind that is used and stretched is more resourceful, flexible and agile. It ages better, thinks things through. Solves problems.
Am I making a difference?
Make your life count. Become the best version of yourself. Inspire others by your example. Meditate. Pray. Forgive. Develop a spiritual practice that connects you with that which is greater than you.
Addictions and compulsive behaviors are linked with feeling empty inside. They cover up feelings of shame, anger, helplessness, and maybe a sense that our lives are not important.
Please rethink that: you DO matter. The way you live your life absolutely matters. Every day, you affect in big or small ways the people who cross your path. The world needs less judgment, less drama; it needs more of your smiles, hugs, solutions, affirmations, and support.