As our 30-Day Series on anxiety moves toward a conclusion, I wanted to offer a reflection to help cement your learning…
What practices and approaches will you use to anchor yourself when you feel restless and revved-up? Do you have go-to practices that help you mobilize calm and confidence when the volume on anxiety begins to climb?
Having a mental or physical checklist containing a few tried-and-true tools can help you take a proactive stance toward your health and well-being. That being said, it’s important to hold your checklist with an open, flexible mind — for there’s no guarantee anything will ‘work.’ Think back to what I said about exercising a curious mindset — be willing to try trusted strategies and just see what happens, rather than expecting or forcing something to shift.
As I shared early on, anxiety is what drew me to mindfulness. From the very first retreat I attended with Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness became a lifelong companion. A practice, or way of life, I return to again and again and again when I’m stretched thin, tired, overwhelmed, or confronting the unpredictable, ever-changing nature of life.
Many people wonder if I still feel anxious. And the answer is yes — but the intensity and frequency has greatly diminished, which I attribute in large part to a consistent mindfulness practice.
I also want to share my checklist of go-to practices (in no particular order) that help reset my mind and body in the middle of a busy day. Perhaps the list will trigger some ideas for you. (Note: these will sound familiar if you’ve kept up with the posts in this series!)
- I check-in with myself. I mean, really check-in to see how I’m doing and what I need most.
- I reach out to close friends and family. As the African Proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
- I practice kindness toward myself and others. Let me just say, mindfulness changed my worldview on anxiety in this regard. I never imagined being kind to myself when I felt crummy before I found this practice. Nor did I consider stepping outside of self-protective mode to think about others who also suffer. Practicing kindness in the face of stress includes offering caring intentions, such as, “May I/you be at ease and in peace.” As well as taking small actions, such as cleaning up trash in the neighborhood or donating money to a friend or stranger in need. It never ceases to amaze me the healing power of kindness.
- I pay regular visits to my breath and body.
- I give myself permission to begin again at any moment. Change simply can’t take root if it’s informed by all or nothing thinking. No matter how long we’ve been practicing mindfulness, we’ll inevitably forget to be there for ourselves when we’re afraid or unsettled, so it only matters that we give ourselves permission to begin again. Beginning again is truly as close to you as the next breath.
It’s important that the practices you choose resonate with you. This will greatly increase the probability that you’ll use them when it matters most.
Very curious to hear what you have on your anxiety relief checklist… Perhaps you’d be willing to share at least one strategy with the community.