Holding on-but letting go of anxiety…

I am continuing my theme on anxiety this week and I’d like to write about letting go and trying new ways of coping when things get too much.

I have read so much recently about striving. Striving to be the best you can be and striving to find the best life you can have. Instructions on how to manifest what you want and how to order what you want from the universe. This is all fine and interesting and yes, helpful too, but what do you do when you can’t keep everything together? Is it sometimes better to focus on the simpler things in life, the small everyday actions that can make life tick over? Or is it better to make a start on a new road? Every journey starts with small steps. A big part of the battle against anxiety involves staying in the moment, but also knowing that one day you will move forward. And a big part of that involves staying positive. Keeping focused on the now.

What would make you happy today? This is a good thing to think about. For one thing it stops you thinking about more negative subjects, and another, it can help you take some actions, however small. Ask yourself what small treat you would like, or think about visiting someone you love.

Looking the best you can helps you face the day. Standing up straight and looking confident will make you feel and appear better and automatically warmer and open to others. Think of your aura positively glowing!

How can you create a better atmosphere in your home? Your environment is so important to your mood. Cook simple but wholesome food, light some candles and express gratitude to those who are with you. If you are own your own make sure you still make the effort. Realise you deserve sympathetic and mellow surroundings.

What do you want to see yourself doing in the future? Picture yourself doing something you have dreamed about. Would you like to look for a different career? Even if you can’t think of a way through now, picture it anyway.

When you are in conversation with others, really listen to what they say. Pay them a compliment and make them feel worthwhile. That in turn helps you.

I have made some suggestions here. I haven’t gone into too much detail about coping with anxiety as I have given suggestions in previous posts, but I really wanted to focus on ways of letting go. Can we find a way of release; a way to kick up our heels and have a go at feeling good?

What can really help us to both hold on to life and let go of the grip of anxiety?

I was speaking to someone recently who had suffered from anxiety for many years and he explained that for so long fear and worry had stopped him doing so many things. He couldn’t hold down a job because there were so many days he couldn’t face going to work and called in sick. Eventually those he worked for lost patience. They thought he was lazy and workshy. They didn’t know what really held him back. In all aspects of his life he was afraid and rather than attempt things he gave up at the first hurdle. Then suddenly he realised he had had enough. Enough of just holding on. He finally ‘got it’. He decided to let go and see what happened. He saw his friends having fun, leading life to the full and taking risks. He thought to himself he would just go for it, even if he felt anxious. After all, he couldn’t really feel any worse than he already did, and at least he would be doing something he could talk about to others. So he started doing ‘normal things’, he travelled, messed around with friends, went on nights out even when he felt bad. The more he did, the more normal he began to feel. Of course, it was important not to overdo it either, late nights and too much alcohol would have been counter productive here, as would bombarding the senses with too much new activity. But this person was brave enough to meet his anxiety head on rather than stay in an anxiety  cycle.

Another thing to realise is how important talking is. If my friend had talked to his bosses and been honest he could well have been met with sympathy and understanding  – and if not it would have been good to move on anyway. It takes courage to open up and tell someone you feel bad at times, but you would be surprised how many people will tell you they have been there too. Also, the people who are worth having in your life are the ones who show you compassion and make an effort to understand you. Even if they don’t always seem the same as you, if they make an effort and show up they are worth knowing.

So by giving yourself a break and having a go at life – putting your worries aside and going through the motions of having a good time  – you will save yourself a lot of energy. Have you ever noticed how tiring having an anxious day is? Have a go at saying to your anxiety ‘do what you want – I don’t care any more and I am in charge.’ You may find that you begin to feel better and the spells of being worry free become longer.

There are no magic solutions to anything in life and what works for one person will not always work for another. But remember that life is very hard to fathom out at times. For everyone. Momentous times come and go. Some extraordinary, some tragic, some heartstoppingly beautiful, some you wish you could forget. But the main thing is, if we give it a go, we will look back without regret.

 In the words of one of my favourite writers –

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.’

Dr. Seuss.

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When Worries Floor You…

I’m continuing my theme about anxiety this week. If you can find anything here to help you then I’m very glad and wish you well.

Just when you think you are doing okay, when you have life worked out at last and have a spring in your step again, do you find yourself ‘floored’ by a comment you hear in passing or by an unexpected letter stuffed through the letterbox? It may not be anything serious but enough to make you jittery.

Sometimes we can feel we are on a fine balance, and find it hard to cope with extra pressures. Or maybe we don’t like the world to see us looking anxious or worried and so we bottle things up inside. This is worse than letting go and having a meltdown;  emotional turmoil can be damaging to us if not released.

I read this explanation of anxiety somewhere this week and it really resonated with me:

      ‘Anxiety is not being able to sleep because you said something wrong two years ago    and can’t stop thinking about it.’

This may or may not be true for you but I know I have had times when I’ve lain awake tossing and turning worrying about past mistakes. Maybe mistakes is not the right word; perhaps it is ‘perceived’ mistakes. Those things which may not have even been important at the time and certainly aren’t now. Then there are the worries that creep in about tomorrow, next week or next year. The ‘what ifs’ and the ‘how is that?’ Before I know it an hour or two has passed and then I start fretting about the fact that I can’t sleep and worry about being a wreck the next day. Thinking ‘I must get to sleep’ doesn’t help!

The good news is there are things that can help:

Repeat your worries over and over rather than try to push them to the back of your mind. Instead, rumble them around until you are bored with them. It may not be a cure exactly but it is better than being overwhelmed.

Think of the worst thing that could happen in a situation you are worrying about, for example, forgetting what to say when giving a speech. Imagine making light of it and joking with your audience – see yourself relaxing and letting the words flow – people usually understand, they’ve often been there themselves.

Don’t judge yourself if you feel you are feeling a bit crazy. You may think a little strangely at times, but that doesn’t mean you are going to act upon your thoughts. Realise that no one is ‘normal’ and what is normal anyway?

Remember that most things you fear do not come true. If and when they do, then that is the time to take action. Not now. Those panicky feelings you are feeling are not going to kill you or give you as heart attack, but if you can deflect them by telling yourself most things you are worrying about won’t happen you are saving yourself some angst.

Be a casual observer. View your worries from afar and make light of them. See them drift off into the distance and wave them goodbye.

Realise you can’t take control of everything. If you feel you’ve done or said something tactless or silly ( most people probably haven’t even noticed) don’t fret about it. Just be warm and friendly, and smile.

Breathe deeply and slowly when you are anxious – I know you have probably heard this many times before, but it does help. If nothing else, it slows you down and calms the nerves.

Don’t let anxiety take over and stop you enjoying things. Even if you think you have a major worry, divide your time – set some going out time to spend an uplifting hour or two with a friend, and then go back to the worry when you get home. Chances are it won’t seem nearly so bad.

Most of all, whatever is happening in your life, remind yourself – this too will pass. Nothing lasts forever in life whether good or bad, whoever and wherever you are in life. That is a fact.

What can you still do in life when you are anxious? Actually, almost everything!

Be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can.

 

Imagine the sight of a rainbow,

     Shimmering in the rain,

    Like a painting stretched across the sky,

     Bringing colour to your world again.’

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Blessings to you.

 

Anxious days and sounding like the Queen….

There has been a lot going on in Dove Lane this week – mainly on the work front. I am ghostwriting a book at the moment and have also been writing articles for various magazines. It is all challenging and exciting stuff and certainly keeps my brain active. I love what I do and consider myself very lucky. That said, the world keeps turning and all the other aspects of life need my attention from time to time.

Here’s the thing – I listen to and follow so much advice from my various favourite lifestyle gurus  – you know, the ones who speak calmly at us through our headphones and lead us to believe that we only have to meditate every day, visualise our dreams and stay in a good calm place to have the world sussed out, that I find myself questioning why some days I don’t feel better than I do. I have always been one to worry a bit about things although I have perfected the art of putting on a brave face, and there are still days when I wake up feeling quite fearful.

On these such days out come the oil burners, the ‘spiritual fitness’ (soothing) music goes on and the pack of Angel cards are both thoroughly shuffled and read for inspiration and reassurance. I may even consume the healthiest breakfast I can manage, overflowing with the juiciest blueberries and sprinkled with turmeric powder. Antioxidants and super foods are the way of course. Often too I head for the woods to commune with nature. Being outside always helps, and worries and cares never seem so overpowering. So then I face the day with renewed optimism. Probably for ten minutes. Then I remember I have to send a recorded voice message to a client which I rehearse to be sure it sounds professional. I send said message. So why do I sound like the Queen on a bad day? Where has my normal voice escaped to? Why does nervousness, when it takes over, alter all our regular actions and allow them to be feeble or peculiar, or even frankly, embarrassing. (Anyone who has experienced the jerky/shaky head movements can probably sympathise with me here). Okay. Time for a reality check, or actually, maybe an UN – reality check, for what is real and what is imagined here? I realise I am looking too far ahead, visualising all the things that could go wrong but probably won’t. I have lost my perspective and even my gratitude. Gratitude for the day I have been given, and which I am wasting with negative thinking.

One thing I am now teaching myself is to be present. Be where I am and not where my anxiety wants to take me. I remind myself that an anxious mind is actually a strong mind, as anyone who has tried to rationalise themselves out of being anxious will tell you. Anxiety exists in all of us at times – we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t experience it occasionally, and of course, it is primarily there to keep us out of danger and to strengthen us if we harness it in the right way. But of course, being on high alert all the time is not good for us, and can become obtrusive. So I remind myself I can be bigger than the anxiety; stronger and more resilient. I won’t fight anxious thoughts but tell myself I have no need for them today. I am comfortable and safe and I am okay. If I accept I am sometimes anxious it doesn’t have such a grip on me and it loses energy.

We can read all the information we can get our hands on. Some days it helps and we find a nugget of wisdom that really shines like a beacon and has a profound effect, other days not so much. Maybe those are the days we should watch a ‘feelgood’ film or eat a box of chocolates – well okay, maybe not a whole box. But at least there is lot of help out there if we embrace it. And there is one thing I urge you to think about if you suffer from anxiety:  you are not alone. The ‘self-help’ industry is huge. There are gurus everywhere – we could probably each have our own personal one there are so many,  – so remember, many of us are searching for help and many of us want to use our own experiences to help others. There is always room for a new way of looking at things, and new ideas. Techniques we laughed at yesterday could be the most beneficial and accepted way of helping us tomorrow.

Talking about laughter, humour is the best way for me in dealing with anxious situations. It’s not easy to be funny or feel amused on demand but trying to look on the funny side helps.  I always think saying we should love ourselves sounds particularly cheesy, but if we do, then we can look upon a bit of laughter as a good way of healing, and not beating ourselves up when we feel low. Laughter scares depression and activates happy feelings, and we as humans are wired to respond positively to laughter and smiles. So there we can tell ourselves that we are at least helping others if we wear a smile.

So next time I hear myself sounding like Her Majesty I will smile and make the most of it. By doing that I will probably relax and return to being my normal self too!

Below is a rather random sketch of mine. Here for no other reason than to make you smile (I like him anyway!)

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A Jaunty Fellow to Cheer You…..