I think I've always had anxiety. It's either calm or it rears its ugly head depending on how life is going at that moment; rather, how I'm handling life at that moment. There have been panic attacks and avoiding things I knew would set it off and there have been times that my life has been so calm that I've forgotten anxiety was ever an issue.
Ebb and flow; into and out of seasons. This is the way of life.
Maybe this is how everyone's life is. Since many of you have been talking about your anxiety I wanted to share some things I've learned over the years that have helped me manage my stress and keep that monster at bay.
This one is HUGE for me! I hear people frequently say, "I can't shut my brain off long enough to do that." Good news: It's not about shutting off your brain. If praying is the act of talking to a higher source, even if the higher source you believe in is your subconscious mind, then meditation is the act of listening to it. Let your mind run wild! Acknowledge gently that you hear what your mind is saying, "Yes, I understand that's a fear. Yes, I know that I have dishes waiting in the sink that need to be done." Let it flow then let it go.
If your second excuse is that you can't sit that long, then rubbish. You have 5 minutes, don't you? Of course, you do. You'll sit on the toilet playing games or browsing social media for long after you're done doing your business, so get your fanny up and quit making excuses. This is for your peace of mind.
Let it flow, let it go.
2. Visit Nature
You don't have to become a tree-hugger, but getting outside will allow you to feel connected, which is the very reason we're on social media so much - to feel connected. When you're feeling connected to Nature, your mind will be more at ease. Breathe the fresh air, explore a creek, nap in the grass, go for a hike, or sit in the sunshine for a few minutes and meditate. Vitamin D and plant-cleansed air will have you feeling better in no time.
3. Focus on a hobby
Learning a new hobby can be stressful, so don't force yourself to do that, but if you already have one then roll with it. I play music, write, draw, or paint. When I'm feeling anxious, I tend to throw myself into them, but practicing a hobby on a regular basis gives me an outlet to keep from having that build-up of nervous tension.
Movement is so stinkin' important. Our bodies are designed to move and rely on movement to function properly. Have you ever noticed that when people stop moving they get a case of the dominos? One thing fails, then another and another…
Movement is said to be an expression. If you don't ex-press then you de-press and depression aren't good for anyone. There are TONS of things you can do to express yourself through movement. I've found that I enjoy Qigong, swimming, and hiking the most. Get creative- chant or dance. When I really feel low, I "Get Low." It makes me laugh every time. Besides… Betty White.
Soaking in a tub of warm water with Epsom salt is another way I relax. The warm water soothes and the Epsom salts help with any aches and pains I have. Whether I'm swimming in a river or soaking in a bath, dunking my head under the just enough so that my ears are submerged is the best part for me. Noises of the world fade and all I'm left with is the sound of my heartbeat. Which is why I REALLY love this next one.
6. Floatation Tank
I first read about these tanks in a Dean Koontz novel. It was referred to as a sensory deprivation tank and was used as both a torture device and as a way to heighten psychic abilities. Floatation tanks today aren't designed for torture. The tanks I've experienced are small, private rooms with high ceilings. You can dim the lighting, choose some music, and just float effortlessly for an hour. It's a wonderful mini-vacation from the sensory overload that makes up our daily lives.
This sort of goes with everything else I've talked about so far, but it needed to be said. The world will keep turning. You won't miss out on anything, and you'll probably find out that you've missed more by being glued to your electronics than not.
8. Regular Massage
I'm a massage therapist by trade, so I have to say this, right? Wrong! I practice what I preach; sometimes twice a month. I depend on a well-executed massage every month - it keeps me going. If I didn't have a regular massage, I would certainly have a difficult time doing such a physically demanding job. And speaking of something else that I depend on…
Without this energy work, I wouldn't still be practicing massage therapy. I, like other empaths, have a tendency to feel other people's emotions and take on their pain. Weird stuff, but we call it energy transference. (Ever found your mood to be influenced by other people? That's energy transference.) It can be rather exhausting at the end of the day, but practicing this form of relaxation and self-healing keeps my energy high and my anxiety low. If you're interested in Reiki, you can receive a treatment or take a class in-person to learn it. Be sure to check my Workshops page.
Keeping the clutter to a minimum is a must. I'm not saying the house has to look like you have a maid on staff. Goodness knows I'm a disorganized organizer, but I'm a bit of a minimalist where "stuff" is concerned. I don't keep knick-knacks sitting around, and if I haven't used it in a year then it's probably going to be purged next time around.
11. Have a play date with your pet
Unless it's a fish. There's not much you can do with one of those, but if you have a furry buddy that likes the attention, then spend some quality time with them. My dogs love a good walk or game of fetch. Watching them play always brings a smile to my face and it's healthy for them too.
12. Get some sleep.
Whatever your best amount is, get it. My sweet spot is 8 hours. I can live on less, but not for long.
13. Eat well.
I'm not going to preach about food but I am fairly particular about what I eat. Eating well makes my body feel good, and knowing that I'm taking care of my body gives me peace of mind about my health.
It seems like I've had several people confiding in me and searching for something to help anxiety recently. I'll be the first to say that a massage therapist's license doesn't make me a psychologist, nor do I try to pretend that it does. (insert common-sense precautions and warnings about medical/psychology advice here.) All these things above have helped me. Try things until you find something that works for you, or consult your medical doctor.