I’ve learned many valuable lessons in life, especially about control (or lack thereof) that affects anxiety levels. These lessons have helped me and many of my coaching clients in times of overwhelm and stress. They may help you or someone you know too.
Here are my top 5 strategies for managing anxiety:
- Life is a crazy wild ride, full of uncertainties – embrace grace
It’s human nature to want control and have explanations for things that happen in life. This helps us stay at ease and somewhat sane. However, life really is a series of uncertain and unpredictable events.
Whilst we do have control over some things like our thoughts, choices and actions. we don’t have control over many things like a pandemic, what other people think or do, the weather, freak accidents or events…
This first lesson is about appreciating the uncertain nature of our everyday life, and being comfortable in that discomfort of not having ‘control’ over the uncontrollable. It’s about getting comfortable navigating ourselves through uncertainty and unpredictability, and those sometimes shocking circumstances that come our way. The more accepting I become with not knowing or controlling everything, the more at peace I feel. Acceptance does not mean I have to ‘like what’s going on – I simply drop my resistance with reality. I allow grace to be my guide.
- Focus on the journey, not the destination
During times of stress, I’ve noticed how my mind goes into fast-forward mode. Suddenly in my head I would skip to 5-10 years into the future e.g. how am I going to fund my parents’ care with all this money I am paying toward bills? With the pandemic, will my loved ones and I be okay? Will I have a stable income?
This pattern of forward thinking helped me realise that all we can really do is stay in and manage what we can in the present moment. Especially in a case like the COVID-19, going too far into the future with fears and uncertainties only adds unnecessary stress and anxiety to my life – as if I can have any real idea of what’s coming, or when!
Yes, we can most definitely take precautions. However, it’s also important to note that worrying constantly solves nothing in the long run. I like to describe worrying as being like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere! And worrying robs you of the preciousness of each moment you are alive and living in safety in this very moment.
One empowering way of being able to embrace the journey is to learn mindfulness meditation. Did you know I offer free guided practice every Monday at midday? See more detail HERE. You may also be interested in my new offering called Calm Your Farm designed to show you that no matter what’s going on in your life, you can sustainably cultivate an inner resource of clarity of mind and calmness of self.
- Make the ‘right’ changes in your life that may feel scary
Since I am self employed and the majority of my work has relied on face to face interactions with coaching clients or in person events, moving my offerings to online was waaaay out of comfort zone and I had to challenge many inner narratives that held me in my comfort zone. I’m a bit of a technophobe, but since making the shifts and changes in my mindset and decisions, I’ve proven to myself that I can continue to provide for myself and my family, as well as continue to effectively and efficiently service my clients by embracing emerging technologies. Technology has become my friend. Life is never constant, and neither are we. We must keep going and we must keep growing. Relabeling my challenges as opportunities for growth allows me to be open to learn – which brings me to my next strategy. Connecting with the voice of my inner Wise Advocate ensures I make the ‘right’ decisions even when they’re not easy.
- Life is a classroom and there are lessons offered every day
I haven’t always taken the best care of myself. I’ve had a pattern of putting everyone else first, then burning out and being bed ridden for recovery for a week or more. I’ve either worked on full throttle, or I’ve been halted to a standstill by my body.
Being diagnosed with cancer, not just once but twice, was an invitation for me to reflect on my choices and to make better decisions to prioritise self care and me more.
I have learned to not take my health for granted. I’ve learned to really appreciate, prioiritise and enjoy quality time with family and friends. This past year has also taught me that nothing is guaranteed, and in an instant, everything can be taken away, so live life now. Reframe and learn from any resistance as an invitation to grow in new and expanded ways.
- Inner joy, calm and curiosity are my greatest resource
Change is not the only constant in life. Inner joy and calm can be too. Nobody can actually take your inner joy or calm away. I’ve learned that no matter how hard life gets, it’s important to find joy… even in the most simplest of things and moments e.g. in a flower, a person’s face, taking a walk, eating a meal, cuddling my dogs, a sunrise or sunset, in a disagreement, a discomfort…
Even though it may be challenging at times, remaining calm and curious, and finding that inner joy is what I’ve been doing more consciously – and it’s empowering and fun. It reminds me to be grateful and to count my blessings instead of my problems. I’m so blessed in so many ways. I’ve learned that calm and joy can be found even in hard and dark times because it comes from within. Nobody can take your calm or joy away. By staying curious, I am open to allowing myself to see more clearly and to see the broader picture to give me greater perspective and opportunity to attune to calm and joy.
For those of you who are having a difficult time with all the uncertainty in the world around us, here’s to being okay with the uncertainty and to finding inner calm and joy when everything seems to be unravelling and out of our control. Here’s to dealing with life and all of its unpredictability with openness, curiosity and awe. Here’s to living, learning and growing. Here’s to YOU!!!
Sending you love, calm and grace,