First “hump day” of the year! As we check in with ourselves in the middle of the week, we must remember to keep our stress levels in check. We do this by practicing some fun self-care activities to keep our energy and vibration up. You’ll find some listed above. I would love to hear any you might add.
It is Monday as this blog is released. For many, this can be the toughest day of the week. First day back to work. With the challenge of waking up and commuting there, often problems that occurred during the week have to be dealt with. Even if you are reading this on a day other than Monday, the same can hold true.
Listed in the photo above is a good remedy for this stress and anxiety. Before bed, just focus on one thing that makes you smile. This can be something you are looking forward to. Perhaps a vacation? Run a mental movie in your head of everything that includes. Feel the sunshine on your skin. Taste the wonderful food at the resort. Smell the ocean breeze and suntan lotion. See the palm trees and blue water. Hear the lapping of the waves on the shore.
What if you don’t have something to currently look forward to? Think of a great memory. Maybe a fond walk with a love one. Do the same thing of engaging as many of your senses as listed above. One caution, do not let yourself be filled with sadness or regret that this is a memory. Instead, be filled with the feeling of gratitude that you had that experience in your life. Remember, not everyone is blessed enough to have memories like that.
We have focused on the importance of our morning routines. That often starts with the night before. The last 20 minutes before bed (and the first 20 upon waking) is when your brain is most susceptible to suggestion. Why not fill that time with something that fills your heart with joy. As a bonus, you will sleep better and, more than likely, have more enjoyable dreams.
I have written about this subject before in both my books and on this very website. It is one of the most powerful realizations that I use to change my life. Once I realized the truth of this axiom, I was not only able to withstand many of life’s greatest challenges a little better, but I was able to add a great deal of joy to my everyday life as well. This includes times when I am in less-than-ideal circumstances. These can vary from stuck in traffic to stuck in a very bad day at work. There are a million little challenges like these that life offers up for us. The key to handling these can be as simple as a shift in mindset. Notice the word I used there was simple and not easy. Although, once you develop the ability to utilize this shift, it only becomes easier. In my life, the shift is now nearly automatic!
What great revelation changed my life in just such a manner? I am going to share this point with you and trust me, it can do the same for your life once you master it. In fact, it will even start to do so while you are learning it! Enough of the build up! What is this truth that can turn around a dark day and make everyday life more enjoyable? The answer can be found in the two pictures above. It is this – there is no law of physics or biology that says your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time. When I am having a tough day at the post office, I take a mental vacation. I think about when Margie and I were in Jamaica. Sometimes I imagine what it will be like when we visit Fiji or the Maldives. This little trick brings the stress level down several notches and gives my brain something positive to focus on.
In the beginning, and on particularly stressful days, this can be difficult to do. What I recommend is to have little things that help you. A picture of the tropical location, or any location that fits your idea of a get away. This is totally customizable. This activates your sense of vision. This can be powerful as it is the one we tend to use most often. I suggest incorporating as many of your senses as you can. In my example, I have several videos with sounds of waves crashing saved in my phone. I can always watch them or even just close my eyes and listen. One of the most powerful senses is the sense of smell, which actually utilizes an entire different area of the brain. I have coconut scented lotion that reminds me of suntan lotion. With essential oils and other fragrances, the possibilities are endless. You could even have a small bottle of the scent your significant other wears to remind you of the amazing person you can come home to.
Pick one or several mental vacations you can go to when life seems upside down. Once you pick one, find items you can use to help take you there mentally. This can be a fun and creative exercise. I recommend trying this out as often as you can. Maybe give yourself an escape at the end of the day? I have coconut scented candles and bubble bath to go with a nice glass of coconut rum. You can do what works best for you. You do not need a stressful situation to take a mental vacation. The more you travel in this fashion, the easier it becomes. When you do go on vacation, make sure to be thinking of things you could take back with you. Also, do your best to be mindful when you are somewhere you enjoy. This could be vacation, or could be as simple as a walk in your favorite park. Do not just focus on how far or fast you can hike, but stop and smell the air, look around at the green of the grass and the bark of the trees. Smell the dampness in the soil or the scent of the pine tress. Take it all in and the when you need to escape, it will be right there waiting for you inside your mind. I would love to hear your perfect mental vacation and the items you use to help you go there.
Many of you wrote in to express how much you enjoyed our posts on self-care. With that in mind we decided to do another and bring you a little something different. I think the picture above is a great example of why we need to recharge our batteries, as well as that of our cell phones. In fact, if you need a good reminder to take care of yourself, every time you plug in your cell phone let that be reminder to charge your own batteries as well. Most of us cannot even imagine taking as much time for ourselves as we give to let our cell phones charge. Writing that just sounded crazy to me. Most of us take better care of an electronic device than we do of our own bodies.
What happens as our cell phone battery begins to get low? We may drop a call. Our connection to the internet may be spotting or may not exist at all. Perhaps our applications we are running slow down. We look at our phone and realize it is because the battery is low. We not only know this, but we expect it. As the energy in the phone becomes lower, so does its performance. How come this does not transfer to our thoughts on people, most of all ourselves? We realize our phones run best with a full battery. Wouldn’t it make sense we would too? We often feel guilty for saying no to someone or for taking time for ourselves.
Let us look at what happens when we let our battery run low. This can be skipping sleep, working extra long hours or not addressing stress in our lives. What are some of the symptoms? Let us first look at the physical or ‘outside’ manifestation of this. It often first appears as general fatigue. Much like our phone slowing down, so do we. Just like an electronic appliance, if we keep going at this rate we will eventually stop. Either by passing our or passing away. We also can get headaches. There are even specific pain relievers marketed as “tension headache relief”. If Madison Avenue can figure out stress can cause us physical discomfort, how come we can’t? Add muscle cramps or pain. This can come not only from stress, but not practicing other self-care methods such as staying hydrated.
Many of us “battle through” these symptoms. Some even consider them a badge of honor of sorts. Let us look at how this can affect our mental state or our mood. Stress can bring on feelings of anxiety or even paranoia in extreme states. Even milder cases can drain our motivation. This can cause us to get less done which can stress us even further. Talk about an equation for disaster! How about feelings of restlessness or overwhelm? Those are fun aren’t they? You may be tempted to say “So what! As long as I am making the boss happy, who cares if I am a wreck?” This brings us to our next reason taking time for self-care and to recharge is so important.
We may think being continually stressed and running ourselves on empty only impacts us, but we could not be more incorrect in that thinking. Being both physically and mentally drained can cause our behavior to change as well. We can be prone to angry outbursts. Have you ever found yourself snapping at someone who did nothing wrong except to cross your path when you were stressed and burnt out? Not only is this not good for our relationships, it also adds the stress of having to repair the damage your stress did in the first place. We can begin to overeat or even under eat when we are not taking time to focus on our well-being. We certainly wouldn’t be eating the stuff that will fuel our body and allow it the best chance of coping with what we are putting it through. Some people even turn to drug or alcohol abuse to help them cope with the stress when they are no longer able to do so physically or mentally. This often can be true of high-achievers, who have a hard time taking time out from chasing their goals to focus on themselves. Can you imagine how one or several of these behavior changes would impact the lives of those close to you or even those depending on you?
Most of us charge our phones at least once a day. Make sure you do at least that much for yourself. As you can see your cell phone is not the only thing that performs poorly when its battery is drained or it has too many programs running at the same time. Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating and drinking the right things to fuel our brains and bodies. Lastly, make sure you are taking steps to address stress. This can be meditation, exercise, talking with a professional or even a friend. Make sure you do not have too many applications running in your own life. Keep the batteries charged and you will keep yourself running smoothly.
Last post we discussed addressing some issues we may not have known we had inherited from our family, neighborhood or other influences. It may make some people uncomfortable to think they are changing or God forbid, improving something about themselves. I get it. In today’s world it can be hard to admit we are anything less than perfect, even if it is through no fault of our own. Nobody likes to admit they have something to work on. Do you know what nearly everyone likes? Realizing they are getting better at something. It can be close to downright exciting to think you may be working on mastering something. Here is some great news, there are plenty of areas in which we can do this!
If we stop and think of the very important issues in life, how many were we taught or have we stopped to research? What do you think is important in your life? Where did you learn how to do it well? Did you ever stop to learn how to do it well? Relating to others is one of the most important skills a human can have. How well did you do in your ‘relating to others’ class in school? Do you recall when your parents sat you down and explained some of the many aspects that go into a healthy and sustainable relationship? Me neither. How about communication? The ability to both convey your thoughts, feelings and emotions to others as well as hear and understand theirs is skill that is as rare as it is valuable. How many years did you study that in school? If your education was anything like mine, that answer would be less than one. . What good is learning our alphabet and how to spell words if we are never taught how to effectively convey and use those very words.
It would seem a great deal of important subjects are left for us to learn by chance, or for far too many of us, by trail and error or not at all. The problem with this is that the stakes are far too high for most of us to learn that way. One mistake in how we relate to others can not only cost us a job, it can ruin relationships and cause emotional trauma to others, including those we truly care about. We occasionally get some instruction on interviewing to get the job we are seeking, although even that is limited. Did ever seem odd that nobody ever told us how to ask the right questions to discover if someone would be the right life partner for us? The same holds true with maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state. As far as I know, there exists very little, if any, instruction in public education on this subject. Is it any wonder, as the stresses in life continue to rise, we are seeing a host of people with mental health challenges. We were never even told how to deal with the stress that is all too prevalent in our lives.
We repeat here the axiom from the last post that fault does not equal responsibility. It is certainly not our fault we were never taught how to succeed in some of the most important areas in life. This is not a knock on our teachers and parents. They were never taught these things either. It is, however, our responsibility to educate ourselves on these very subjects. If a healthy relationship is important to us we need to learn what the components of one are and how to get them. If being able to communicate to others and have them understand you may be valuable, don’t you think it might be worth a few hours of research? How much effort is living a life with less stress and more joy worth to you? What other areas are important? Do you think being a great parent to your child is important? Do you think you may have received some bias or incomplete information on that subject growing up? Would you like to give your children the best possibility of success as they grow up?
When I share this information I hear a lot of groaning about having to dedicate additional time learning. “I spent enough time studying in school.” is a refrain I hear all too often. If that is your mindset you must then become comfortable at the thought you will not develop past the person you were when you left school. “I don’t have time.” is another answer I hear. To that I say this – it is not that you don’t have time, it is that it is not a priority for you. If I told you that you could have ten million dollars but I would need 2 days worth of your time starting tomorrow at 6am, where would you be at 5:59?
Dedicating time for study in these subjects is worth more than that ten million dollar price tag mentioned earlier, it is priceless. Being able to better understand, and even more importantly meet, the needs of your spouse? How much would you pay for that? Not feeling so stressed out at the end of every work week, or even every work day, how much would that be worth to you? You see, studying the main topics in life is like digging in a vain of solid gold. The knowledge you get can not only positively transform your life, it can do the same for lives of those you care about. Can you imagine sitting down to share topics like these with your children while at the same time listening to what concerns they may have? How valuable would that be? How about learning how to help people feel good about themselves? Would that be skill that might come in handy with the boss at the office or the one you love at home?
Here is the grand upside to all of this. The knowledge on all of these subjects is readily available and it is free. All it takes is some time and effort on our part. There are literally millions of books available in the public library system at no charge to us. There are forums, articles and experts available online with a click of a mouse. There are audiobooks we could listen to in the car, seminars we can attend, videos on YouTube we could watch while we are in line at the grocery store. There is so much information out there, in so many different forms that there is no excuse not to become an expert in any area of life that is important to us. Learning one new thing a month, which is painless to do, can give us 12 tips to a healthier lifestyle. Can you imagine incorporating 12 new things this year to improve your health? How much of an impact do you think that would have? What if we learned one new way to improve our intimate relationship a week? This is still insanely easy to do. Do you think adding 52 improvements to your relationship in a year would positively impact your love life?
There is no excuse not to begin to become an expert on the important areas of our life starting today! How important is the success of your children? How important is the happiness of the love of your life? How valuable would having extra energy and health be? Decide what is important to you and begin to study today! Your life is far too valuable not to.
As we grow older we realize what we thought was important in our youth may very well turn out to be quite less important in later years. If we think about our own lives we undoubtedly will realize that this is true for us. I have heard people say “Ask yourself if this will mater 10 years from now.” Some things in life that seem make or break we can’t even remember a year from then. Gossip, even work related issues that can certainly be tricky at the time, can pass by to be forgotten. In looking back, I have been upset by some pretty silly and stupid things. How do we know what not to waste our time on? How do we know if the issue we are currently dealing with will even matter a year from now? After all, in the heat of the moment, most things do seem pretty important. There is a simple way to reduce the time we spend getting upset with, and wasting our time on nonsense. This will not only reduce the amount of time we spend upset, thus reducing a good deal of stress in our lives, but will also allow us to put that formally wasted time to better use.
A great way to make sure we do not spend time on what does not matter is to spend some time deciding what does matter. This is best done when you are not emotional. Being able to reflect on what is truly important in your life will allow you to often see the nonsense of life for what it truly is. This is helpful when you find yourself in a highly emotional state. If what is important to you is your spirituality, your family and your health, does it really matter what foolish thing a politician does? Is it worth wasting your time arguing the point with your coworker or the guy standing next to you at the bus stop? Probably not. Then again, if your politics are very important to you, it might be. If you can spend an afternoon (or whatever time of day works for you) pondering what you value in life and writing it down, this could pay great dividends down the road. When you find yourself greatly upset about something, refer to your list. If it is not on there in some capacity, find a way to let it go.
These are one of those times that recognizing that we are different in this regard will also save you a lot of stress. All of us place importance on different things in life. If it frustrates you why your spouse does not get as upset as you do about a certain issue it may serve you well to consider it just might not be that important to them. Although that might also frustrate you, it could certainly help you to understand your spouse and the situation better. If you are in the market for someone to spend your life with, this is also a great exercise to do. Finding someone who is passionate about the same issues as you do, could save a lot of stress as the years progress. If you are already in a relationship, being able to articulate what upsets you in a clear and concise manner to your partner will be helpful in both reducing upsets, but also getting to know one another on a deeper level. Like most relationship tools, this does not only work in an intimate relationship, but in other relationships as well.
As we grow older it is helpful to realize what is important to us and what becomes nonsense can and should change. As we mature, so does what is worth our time and energy. When I was younger, I placed great importance on solving every issue with people in my life. As I grew older, I began to value my own peace of mind more. When there was an issue that involved a conflict of values, or some unnecessary drama, the question went from “How can we solve this?” to “Is this an issue that really needs to be solved?” Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. On a few occasions, when the other party refused to do so, it was sadly time to let that person go. My own peace of mind was more valuable than maintaining a relationship full of conflict. As a result of getting clear what is most important to me, I have been able to not only reduce the stress in my life, but use the time that would have been wasted on this unproductive conflict to further and deepen the healthy relationships in my life. One secret to an amazing life is periodically checking in with ourselves to ask “Are there some issues in my life that I spending time on that are just a bunch of nonsense?” As the years go by that answer will change and develop as we do.
We began the week by discussing how important taking care of our mental health was. If you do not understand why that is important, I highly suggest you go back and read Monday’s post again. One of the fun, life-changing things I advocate in my second book, Living the Dream, is to create lists of things that sooth your soul. The picture above gives us some great ideas. Although I am not sure about “taking a nap with your loved ones” not sure what kind of polygamous situation the author has going on, but finding yourself sleeping with too many people could lead to a very stressful situation.
Back to the lists I was speaking of earlier. This can be movies that make you laugh. Creating a Happy Playlist on your MP3 player or other device of songs that put you in a good mood. It can be creating a list of friends you can call in an emotional emergency. One of the things people do not think to write down is a list of places where you feel at peace. These can be vital in times of distress, but are just as important as a preventative measure. Keeping your soul happy can help you deal with stress better which can lead to a stronger immune system and a healthier you overall.
You may think creating these lists as something you don’t need to do, but that would be overlooking a very important aspect of human nature. You may wonder why you would need to write down what movie makes you laugh or where you feel most at peace. You already know those things. Whenever the human brain is under stress, it does not operate at its best. That is why you see game show contestants with blank looks on their faces when asked how much 2 +2 equals. Of course they know the answer, but with prizes on the line and the what seems like the whole world watching their minds go blank. Have you ever studied all night for an exam and when you get to class you forgot everything you read? I think we have all been there. This weekend, take some time to write down what sooths your soul. It will not only be helpful, but it is actually quite fun. You can edit these lists as you grow through life, but having the information on hand can shorten the intensity and duration of many a stressful day.
Life is tough my friends. This week we are going to look at a couple of strategies that may help us to deal with all of the tough times we are facing. There is still a pandemic, there are chaotic situations in many workplaces and a million other daily stresses we face. Even if it appears someone is ‘doing better’ than we are, chances are they just have different life challenges, or are better at hiding what they are going through.
I like to think of this quote when I am facing a challenge. Will I let this control me, or will I control it? You might think “How can I control losing my job?” or for that matter any of the other challenges we face? In my latest book, Living the Dream, I talk about asking yourself the question “How can I use this?” You could also think of this quote, or maybe even have a copy printed out to look at. There are 2 ways that I make use of this quote in stressful times and I would like to quickly share them with you. Feel free to share anything you have come to mind. I am always interested in new perspective.
The first thing that came to mind was that the egg was made stronger by the boiling water and the potato was made weaker. Stress can be like an emotional workout strengthening our resolve and resiliency. It can, however, break us down and leave us drained. Much like if we workout too hard. When stress comes I ask myself that question recommended in the book – “How can I use this?” I know that it can prepare me for a similar experience in the future. I give myself a little pep talk. “I’m not going to let this stress get the best of me. I am going to use it to make me a more bad ass motivator.” Not always those words, but something like that.
The second way I view this quote is that the egg becomes harder. Stress and challenges make some people hard and uncaring. It is really a manifestation of fear. You are afraid to get hurt again, so you become less emotionally available. Much like our egg in the boiling water, you become hard. On the other hand, the potato becomes softer in the boiling water. Usually, it is not a compliment to be called soft. In this case, I think the word soft could be replaced by the word compassion. When you go through a stressful situation, you immediately become more compassionate to those going through something similar. In this case, being soft could be a good thing.
When it comes to stress, which can often feel like you are being put into boiling water, are you an egg or potato? I guess depending on how you view this statement, you could be both. Let challenges be an emotional workout for you making you stronger and better equipped to face things in the future. Be careful, however, not to let it make you emotionally hard and lose your sense of compassion and ability to relate to others.
Today we tackle the third and final strategy for coping with anxiety. Before we jump into today’s topic, I would like to take a moment to discuss the last few posts. The subject of anxiety has been front and center in the media as of late, and judging by the high level of engagement I have received in these posts (which I love) it has been front and center in your lives as well. I am honored and appreciate the responsibility of being asked to write about this subject. In speaking with many of you, it has become apparent that anxiety exists in some form in the lives of everyone. Personally, this time of year I face the highest levels of anxiety I face all year. Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and living in a cold climate make for a stressful situation. While writing about these coping strategies, I was reminded of some methods in which I can employ to assist me. I welcome – no I encourage – you all to continue to share your methods for coping with anxiety as well as other topics you would like to see discussed on this blog. It is you, the reader, that can take this blog to the next level.
Emotional coping strategies is our last category we are going to discuss. Anxiety, being an emotion, can make thinking of doing anything emotional as a formidable challenge. That is why we suggest you start with physical and social coping strategies. If you are like me, you start with anything and everything you can. Anxiety doesn’t play fair and neither should you when treating it. After all, this is YOUR life we are talking about here. The first suggestion I have for attempting to change your emotional state is one I use in my life-coaching and motivational speaking career. That is creating lists. This does not initially sound inherently powerful or sexy, but trust me, they work wonders. Ideally, the time to make these lists is before anxiety rears its ugly head, but if it is too late for that, there is no time like the present! There are many things that create powerful emotional reactions in our lives. Create as many lists as you can think of in regards to them. There are two types of lists to make. The first is a list of things that can trigger your anxiety. This is important to know for two reasons. First, and what should be obvious, is that it will help you avoid situations in which these may be present. Second, you can share these lists with people you regularly surround yourself with. Hopefully, these are also people who care a great deal for you. Letting them know what triggers your anxiety will help them better understand why you may not want, or be able to, do certain things. It will also better help them help you in addressing these concerns.
The second set of lists are not only very powerful, but can be fun to create. What a bonus! These are lists of things that put you in a positive mental state. One of the first I recommend creating is what I refer to as a happy playlist. Which is simply a list of songs that make you feel happy. The only caveat here is that they should be songs without negative lyrics. Seek and Destroy by Metallica may make you happy on the treadmill, but subconsciously the brain latches on to funny things when in a stressed emotional state. So for this exercise, do your best to only include songs with positive lyrics. Then when anxiety first begins to creep in, close your eyes, put on your headphones and just push play.
Begin to think of other items which have a powerful emotional reaction in your life. A list of movies that inspire you. This doesn’t only have to be comedy, although I would imagine a great deal of those would make the list. Think outside the box a little. Does watching Braveheart make you feel like you can overcome great odds? The Pursuit of Happiness may remind you that even the worst situations do not last and if you persevere great things can happen. How about foods that put you in a great mood? As we discussed in physical coping strategies, it helps if they are also healthy. At least a few of them anyway. Another list that is fun is places that make you happy. Sometimes a change of scenery can help do the trick. I, personally, like the grocery store. Parks and walking in nature have been proven scientifically, increase the positive brain chemicals we talked about in the post of physical strategies. Make as many of these lists as possible. Sometimes music may work. Sometimes you may need a movie, or a park or an ice cream cone. Have as many weapons at your disposal in the fight against anxiety.
Another great way to change your emotional state and increase the feelings of control in your life is the accomplishment of small goals. I understand if the word ‘goals’ may cause a slight feeling of anxiety in some. It sure used to in me. It is important to note the world small in front of them. Cleaning your entire kitchen may seem overwhelming and fill you with anxiety. Break this challenges down into smaller goals. It is like the old cliché, “How do you eat an entire elephant? One bite at a time.” I don’t have a personal palate for pachyderms, but you get the point. How you accomplish large goals is by doing one small goal at a time. After a few you gain momentum and find yourself closer to your large goal. This also does one other thing, it gives you a win and a feeling of accomplishment. It allows you to know you did something positive and took a step in the right direction. You may not have got that entire kitchen clean, but you organized that drawer so all of your spatulas fit with no fear of not being able to open the drawer once it is closed.
When all else fails, and quite frankly even when all else doesn’t fail, there is one thing you can do that will help you through some of the toughest and most anxiety filled periods of your life. I experienced this first hand. There was a period of my life when everything seemed to be flying south for the winter. This was made even worse by the fact that it was July. My job, relationships, money, transportation all seemed to be filled with problems that were causing a great deal of anxiety. Questions like, “Am I still going to have a job? If so, how am I going to be able to get to that job if my car is broken? If I can’t get to the job I might or might not have, how can I afford to fix the car that gets me to the job?” Those were just two of the many areas of my life that seemed upside down. There seemed to be no solution and I was getting more stressed by the minute. What did I do? Something I am going to implore that you do – find a way to help others.
Taking our focus of our own problems, even temporarily, can provide a great deal of relief. It also provides a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of value. When my life was upside down, I had the great fortune to be able to help at a meal program feeding the homeless and economically challenged. It not only gave me the feelings I mentioned prior, but did a great deal to put my problems in perspective. It also allowed me to see that we all have a great deal of problems in life, but there are always people out there who care and are willing to help. It may take a while to find them, but they are out there. While you are searching for the kind of people that may care and help you, it certainly helps to be one to others.
The last few posts we have explored the three categories for coping with anxiety. We looked at physical methods in the first post, social methods in the second and emotional methods today. We looked at many activities in the realms of these three methods. These posts have only begun to scratch the surface. Through a little research and effort on your part and the inclusion of a professional, you will discover many other options as well. Anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed of, ashamed of or feel hopeless about. We all experience to some degree in our lives and with treatment it is curable. I encourage you to share these posts with those you think may benefit. The conclusion of these posts is not the end of the discussion, but perhaps a way to begin a discussion on the topic of anxiety and how we can help ourselves and each other.
We have been discussing anxiety and ways in which to approach healing from it. Last post we discussed using physical strategies. Today we will discuss social coping strategies for anxiety. We began with physical coping strategies because they are a good first step. It requires very little use of the mind and thus can be easier to put into action. Anxiety can have us feeling keyed up and jittery. Expelling some of that energy through physical exercise, or consuming a calming tea can be a good first step. Ironically, anxiety can leave us feeling both mentally and physically exhausted. It can have us feeling completely drained. Changing our diet to a more healthy option as well as removing things like caffeine and alcohol can give us an energy boost.
When you are suffering from anxiety, being social with others may be one of the last things you want to do. The difficult part, is it can be one of the best things for you. There are ways to mitigate the additional stress often occurred when socializing. Certainly, we are not advocating attending a business networking event filled with strangers giving you high–pressure sales pitches. A small gathering at a familiar place with close friends and family can help us feel calm and collected. Discussing our feelings with those who care and we know we can trust can help us feel less alone in battling the challenges we are facing. There are occasions when focusing on the anxiety can only prove to make it worse. The focus does not have to be, and quite often should not be your anxiety. Spending time trading jokes, recalling fond memories or even fantasizing about a future vacation, trip around the world or what it would be like to win the lottery can help change our focus, even if only for a moment.
You may not feel comfortable sharing some of your inner most thoughts or feeling with your friends. Maybe it is uncomfortable to feel that vulnerable with someone you are that close to. Those are understandable and valid feelings. If you are not ready or feel comfortable seeking out a professional counselor or therapist, there are still plenty of good options. As a friend and reader of this blog mentioned on our first post on the subject of anxiety, it would be wise and helpful to talk to your priest, rabbi, shaman or other spiritual leader. Not only are they generally the most compassionate people, but if we are honest, helping those in a challenging emotional state is in their job description. Depending on the the source of your anxiety, life coaches can be another good option. Although they do not deal in challenges of the past, they certainly can help you map out a plan for the future. Sometimes knowing where we are going and having actionable steps to take can relieve a lot of the anxiety we feel.
The challenge with all of these options is that often when we are suffering from anxiety we do not even feel like leaving the house. Thanks to modern technology, and even more so because of the current pandemic, all of these services are available online. As a life coach, I have had several meeting via zoom which not only allowed my clients to feel safe, but allowed me to service individuals across state and even international borders. There are services that allow you to speak to spiritual advisors as well. You can do so through the telephone, online or a mix of the two. There are also plenty of online forums and groups that you can join. There are even ones specific for people dealing with anxiety. I have included a link from verywell mind that lists the top 7 online anxiety support groups for 2021 at the end of this post. Knowing you are not alone is a very important element when experiencing anxiety. Knowing there are several options to explore, I encourage you to reach out and try one. It can be as simple as clicking the link below.