We all have anxiety. Or maybe I shouldn’t say we ALL do but the vast majority of us experience anxiety to one degree or another. Unless you are this guy I think just about everyone has some anxiety. Actually, I bet this guy even has some anxiety.
It’s just kind of a natural by product of life isn’t it? Worried about our health or a loved one’s health. Are we being a good father and raising our kids the right way. It’s okay if I have that 5th beer on a Friday night right? Maybe that’s too much? Worried if we are saving enough for retirement or enough for our kids college. Worried if the company you work for is going to get bought and you’ll be out of a job. Wanting to spend more time on things that are good for us like working out but telling ourselves we don’t have the time. And then we get anxiety around how little time we have. And don’t even get me started on the stress and anxiety of all the shit I need to stay on top of for maintaining the house! I just spent $1,000 on some landscaping and another $750 on getting new faucets installed. Not to mention the fact I’ve had more than a few people look at me funny because I keep a running “to do” list of things to take care of around the house. Now let’s toss in the fact that the holidays are coming down the pipe and that ratchet’s up the stress and anxiety level even more. Let’s see if we can come up with some quick ideas to lower anxiety. In my opinion any tips we can all share on how to lower anxiety is something we can all benefit from.
For my money this is the best part of meditation. If you’ve never given meditation a shot this is your reason to. Most meditations that I have done (and it’s not many) start our with having you concentrate on your breathing. Just the simple act of closing your eyes and focusing on ONLY your breathing is pretty damn amazing. The trick is to concentrate on just your breathing. Once you become aware of it then you can move to breathing deeper and really feeling your breath move through your body. It does not take long to feel your body relax. Honestly just doing this for 5 minutes in the evening makes a difference on how relaxed I feel and it helps me sleep better too. It’s something we take for granted because it’s on autopilot. Being aware of the air moving in and out of your body is pretty cool and relaxing in and of itself. Once you take the next step of making those breaths deeper it’s an even more relaxing experience. Give it a shot, it’s easy.
Give Yourself The Gift of Self Care
A lot of people don’t take the time out of their lives to give themselves a little self care. And I’m talking outside the realm of getting and staying healthy by working out regularly and eating good clean food for the most part. I’m talking about getting a haircut at a place that massages your scalp and offers you a drink. Or getting a massage once a quarter. Or allowing yourself to be involved in a hobby that feeds your soul like playing in a band or hiking. Look, I get it that money is tight sometimes. There’s plenty of no-cost to low-cost things you can do that show yourself that you care about yourself. And when you are doing something that feels good, it’s amazing how much easier you smile. Some people have a hang up on self care, like they don’t deserve it. I’m not going to get into the psychological weeds here, that’s a whole other ballgame and I’m sure there’s multiple reasons for it. Bottom line is everyone deserves some self care. Sprinkling some into your life lightens you mood and helps alleviate some anxiety.
Write Stuff Down
I’m a big believer in keeping a journal. I started doing this about 6 years ago and it kind of ebbs and flows. Sometimes I write in it most days for a week, even for 5 minutes. I will then go a week without writing anything into it. The way it helps me is by getting some of my lingering thoughts out of my head and down on paper. For some reason once I put it down on paper it is in my head less which in turns lowers my stress. It’s not even something I am actually stressed about sometimes. It can simply be a lingering thought that continues to float through my head for some reason and writing it down kicks it out and eases my mind. Try it.
Be Around People You Like
This is a bit of a no-brainer but it’s amazing how many of us spend the majority of our time with people we don’t really care about. Now if this is your spouse or your work you have a bigger issue to face. In the grand scheme of things have a strong social support system is key to so many areas of your long term health. Simply being around people who make you laugh and smile can do wonders to help lighten the load on your shoulders. Plus it’s awesome to have several strong relationships to be there when you go through time times. When someone has had their legs kicked out from underneath them like an unexpected divorce or getting laid off from a job without have some good friends for emotional support it makes a tough situation even harder.
Just Say No
Oh boy, this one. So tough for so many people. Used to be very tough for me as well and then I started saying no to stuff. I stared slow because it was really hard for me to say no. I think this was primarily because of the way I was raised and partly because of how I am built. To this day a part of me STILL feels guilty when I say NO and I’m not gonna lie, some people don’t like that I say NO to things sometimes. But here’s the thing. Once I started saying “No” to things not only does it free me up to do the things that are important to me(and not someone else looking for a helper) but it also lowers my stress. It lowers my stress because I don’t go around mad at myself for trying to do to much and mad at the person who asked for simply asking me. When you are more selective in what you say YES to you take control of your life and weed out some of the stuff that causes you anxiety. Really, it’s okay to say NO.
Make Things Fun
So many people take EVERYTHING in life so seriously. Do you think these people have higher stress and anxiety? I would guess a big fat YES. I look at much of life as a game. Don’t misunderstand me, I am serious about many things in my life. What I don’t do is over worry about every little thing. I don’t sweat how much laundry there is to do because it will get done. I don’t worry about having to mow the lawn today and if I do mow it today, I put on my ear phones and I crank music and make it FUN. Truthfully I add music to many parts of my life and it makes things more fun for me. Right this minute I just turned on the Roxy Music on Pandora as a matter of fact. There’s nothing wrong with being serious about many things in life but don’t be serious about everything. Life is a game, got to have fun playing it. If something doesn’t work out the way you want, say “oh well”, learn from it, and move on. And have fun doing it. None of us are getting out of here alive so have fun with it while you can.
Many times we worry and stress over things because we don’t know what to expect. This is the fear of the unknown. And there’s lots of examples here ranging from going to the doctor because our left leg has felt numb for a while to not knowing what to do about the reason why our left rear passenger tire keeps deflating to how much money we will need in retirement. True story – I was looking at my retirement savings at work today which is why this is on my mind. We worry and fret and stress and have anxiety over many things we don’t know more about or don’t understand. It’s human nature. So grab a laptop and do some research and make yourself some notes. Post something in your neighborhood Facebook page and see what answers come back. Call your dad and ask for his opinion. Text your buddies and see if they’ve ever experienced that extra drop of urine that falls out in your shorts twice a day. Once you get a little knowledge on something the pieces tend to fit together a little better and in general, it helps relieve some anxiety.
A Few Resources
Here are a few resources to help with anxiety and stress. Depending on what you are looking for and your situation they may offer some help and additional ideas:
- Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety (Volume 1): Robert Duff PhD. – Not for the faint of heart. Lots of swearing and humor and written from a friend perspective with lot of actionable items and tools for you to try out.
- Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking: S.J. Scott – This is about how we all think negative thoughts but if you always feel overwhelmed you need to look at how these thoughts negatively impact your life. The solution is specific mindfulness techniques to create space in your mind for inner peace and happiness.
- Anxiety: How to Overcome Anxiety by Becoming a Warrior Of Peace: Peter Holmquist – It sounds a little cheesy because it talks about overcoming anxiety by becoming a warrior of peace but it’s got some good stuff. It can help with your outlook in life in general as well as helping to lower anxiety.
- Motivational Stress Ball, Assortment 3 – Pack: Teacher Peach – just what the name implies. Solid, hardcore, very difficult to damage stress balls to squeeze the stress out.
- Louisville Slugger Genuine Series 3X Ash Mixed Baseball Bat – When all else fails.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of ways to help lower anxiety. We’ve all got it to some degree or another, the trick is how do we keep it from impacting our lives more than it should
All my best,