If you're like me, you have moments when anxiety creeps up on you, jumps on your back, and tries to wrestle you to the ground. Moments when employers are evaluating the quality of your work, when you're interviewing for a job and you have to find out who thinks you are valuable and who doesn't and why. Not to mention relational mishaps and various other life situations.
How do you handle anxiety? Everyone's different. Me? I have a very hard time shifting gears once anxiety has set in. I don't do pills or professional therapy, so that leaves me with more natural / do it yourself types of coping. Let's take a quick look at some ways I overcome anxiety:
1. Soothing music
Elevator music doesn't qualify. My #1 album for soothing nerves is Sade's "Lovers Rock." #2 would be Josh Groban's "Closer." Andrea Bocelli used to be my #1, but I've worn out his albums and have to wait to listen more.
This only works given the right seasons of the year and/or geographic location. When I spent two years at a mortgage company, I spent a LOT of my time outside. I let the sun warm my face as the breeze lazily moved the tree tops and birds chirped away in those branches. It was my momentary paradise, and it brought a sense of calm.
Certain herbs and supplements help to improve mood. Sublingual B vitamins uplifts mood by promoting energy and positive outlook, and liquid chlorophyll helps the body feel hydrated. Both are essential to a sense of well-being.
While my wife was pregnant, we shopped for scented essential oils at Whole Foods Market. We also did some study to find out which smells affect mood in which ways. Despite the fact that I don't especially care for the smell, Ylang Ylang really works wonders on my mood, as does sandalwood and honeysuckle (not together). We bought one of those little oil burners and we just put a few drops into it and light one of those really small and cheap candles beneath it. The room is filled with fragrance and your mind can slowly drift into a better mood.
5. Scenic Walks
Though I don't get the chance to do it anymore, I used to love walking around the canal in Las Colinas. I'd eat my lunch quickly and then take a 20+ minute walk along the canal. Something about water calms me. The mild exercise is good as well for increasing metabolism and shaking off feelings of slothfulness and lethargy.
6. Computer Games
When I need to mentally check out for a good 20 minutes to regroup, I play Chess, Spider Solitaire, or Hearts. They're simple games that don't require a long time to play, but the distraction helps me regroup when my mind is stuck on something stressful or a deadline is pressing in on me.
7. IMing my wife
A quick IM session with my wife will always boost my spirits. She is such a huge encouragement to me. We share the feeling that we are in this together, and we encourage each other when it's tough. Just talking to her removes that feeling of "I'm all alone in this problem." I don't even have to share my problems with her. I just want to know that someone is on my side. That's enough.
There are a few others, including re-reading specific verses in the Bible, that help me as well. Sometimes I learn a truth and forget it. Revisiting truths that bring calm and peace are essential to actually improving your thoughts long-term.
The first seven are coping mechanisms. But the more permanent improvement of your mood comes from training your mind to think thoughts that are good and true. Meditating on positive and peaceful thoughts (thinking about them again and again) help you switch trains of thought in your brain and your mind will learn over time to habitually think better thoughts instinctively, which is what you really want. Unlearning the negative responses to thoughts takes some time, but really, what is more important than feeling good and enjoying a fulfilling life? You'll do what it takes when it's important enough to you to get results. Even if doing what it takes means beginning by asking questions.
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