I have spent an awful lot of time in my life worrying. I worried about bills, approaching deadlines, driving in the traffic to work, flu, shrinking budgets, layoffs at work, expenses, the economy, the real estate market and so on. You get the picture. I even worried about my husband driving to work and making it there safely. Do you know anyone else like me? I bet you do.
I worried so much that these worries became debilitating to a certain extent. Sometimes I could not function because I was obsessing about so many things (see my list above). Finally I have decided that I cannot live every minute of my life in a agonizing state of anxiety. I started wondering what I could do to reduce my fixation.
Worry is defined by Webster as “a mental distress or agitation resulting from concern, usually for something impending or anticipated.” After reading this definition, I realized that the worry is about something that hasn’t happened and may or may not happen. When I looked at it from this angle, my fixation appeared rather silly and useless. Still, understanding the pointlessness of worrying wasn’t very helpful. So, I took a different approach.
What I am going to say here is not a ground breaking discovery of the century. In fact, it is as old as the world and you have heard about it numerous times. I started to exercise. Have you ever wondered why therapists, magazines, friends, family always advise you to work out when you are stressed or depressed? Because it works!
I started to work out on a regular basis and let me tell you:
– I sleep like a rock and I feel rested in the morning. A regular sleep pattern means less tossing, turning, obsessing, worrying;
– My mood is significantly better because I feel better; my energy level is increased which leads to the next point;
– I drink less caffeine. I still enjoy my two cups of coffee in the morning but I don’t need an additional cup in the afternoon to boost my energy. Less caffeine means less anxiety.
Another valuable method of reducing stress that I discovered is relaxation. I was one of those people who thought that being told to relax is as useless as being told not to worry. The problem is that many of us do not know how to relax. Relaxation does not come naturally to everyone. I can’t just lay on the sofa and do nothing. But I love to write and read. Writing takes my mind away from all the worries. Reading transports me into a different world. Even if it is for an hour or so, it still does its magic – I go to bed without worries.
There are techniques that turn relaxation into an activity. For me it is writing and reading. For someone else it can be yoga, hiking, watching TV, walking a dog or playing with kids.
I believe that life is meant to be enjoyed, and often the simplest ways to reduce anxiety and stop worrying are very simple and obvious things. You just have to see, explore and find what works for you. You will be surprised with the results. I promise.
How do you relax? What takes your mind away from worries?