Put your virtual hand up high if you have ever found yourself in a rough patch. Those weeks where it feels like you are trying to hold the weight of the world and there is no one to talk to about it. The worst part about it, is that it comes at a time where everything is going great… until it isn’t. What I am talking about is stress and anxiety. I’m sure you have heard of it.
Anxiety is described by doctors as “a feeling of fear, dread or uneasiness.” I would describe it as a loop of feeling that you can’t get something done. That you’re not good enough or dedicated enough or committed enough. This is exactly why anxiety is so paralyzing. When someone is facing anxiety, they find themselves in this constant loop, unable to break free, because every misfortune they face, they put it completely on themselves. This is why I wanted to dedicate a blog post to show you how I personally cope with stress and break out of that seemingly never-ending loop.
So, let’s get into it. To me, the most important lesson is to plan. It sounds silly, but if you ever heard the quote, “Control the day. Don’t let the day control you,” then you will understand the importance. When the day is in control, you feel like a piece of paper being dragged with the wind, being dictated by external forces. To snap out of that dreary anxiety loop, the best possible solution is to take back control. This is where planning comes into place. For me, if I really want to get back on track, I will microplan. I will schedule when I wake up, when I shower and brush my teeth, my first meal of the day, key objectives for the day and everything in between. If you do this, you feel the power of getting things done. Once you get a taste of that empowerment, you can kick your anxiety to the curb. But it is crucial to actually execute on your plan.
In order to manage your stress, anxiety and other mental health issues you may face, it is crucial to make sure to surround yourself with the right people. Especially in tough times, I lean on my family and friends that will support and uplift me. It is never easy cutting off family and long-term friends, but the last thing that helps you overcome anxiety is having people close to you add fuel to the fire. People that take shots at you while you're down or look to pounce on your insecurities should be excluded from your life. If the people close to you are giving you legitimate support, it eases the burden of feeling anxious tremendously.
Another tool I use to overcome my anxiety is being active and focusing on the present. I use exercise as my primary form of stress management. Whether it be going on a run or lifting weights, challenging my body and feeling the sense of reward for doing something tough really contributes in helping me get out of a rut. However, it does not just have to be physical exertion. When it comes to friendships and relationships, make sure you are present when you are with the people that provide you comfort. What good is an extremely supportive family member, friend or significant other if you are constantly checked out when you're speaking to them? Be engaged with the world around you, and all the responsibilities that you feel like you cannot manage will not dictate your feelings. The last point to this topic is to find enjoyment in work or anything else that you may view as challenging. It is only a “problem” if you frame whatever you're facing as a problem. Instead of seeing things as an immovable weight, see them as obstacles or puzzles that can be solved. Heck, you can even have a fun time solving them.
Finally, it is so important to understand that you must take pleasure in the small things. When things hit the fan and 1. Your child is sick, 2. You got into a fight with a loved one 3. Your boss is constantly ordering you around and holding you to standards that seem unachievable -- you have to slow down and take pleasure in the small things. It is almost inevitable that at some point in your life it seems that everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. You will overcome those obstacles, but in the meantime your entire life does not have to be full of dread and unhappiness. Emerge yourself in your favorite show, a delicious meal, a book you’ve been dying to read or an intriguing podcast. It’s important when you’re feeling down to let go of all the stress and focus on the things that bring you joy. Even if you have a spare 15 minutes, use that time to focus on your wellbeing and stop dwelling on all the issues you face in your life.
In conclusion, there isn’t any one solution to solving anxiety, nor will it just completely go away abruptly. However, there are ways to mitigate it and get yourself back to peak form. To me the opposite of anxiety is being able to live a joyous life that is under your own control and having the pleasure to be surrounded by people that want the best for you. Seldom are outcomes ever the way you envisioned it perfectly, but that is no reason to begin feeling confident and happy with the choices you make. Denis Waitley once said, “It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” Finding fulfillment, happiness and comfort on our journey is the most we can do.