Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anxiety, I haz it.

Ever forget to breathe? These days, it seems like one minute I'll be happy as a clam, enjoying the fall breeze and the next I've forgotten all about that gentle breeze and my world is swirling, spinning and twirling around in my head. Clam soup, you could call me.

So, I'm going to give myself a little advice. I'll share it with you, 'cause I know that anxiety gets its claws into everyone at some point. Here are some hints to cope:

1. Breathe. It's logical, practical. But I always seem to forget. However, getting oxygen to the brain is not only essential for life, it also helps your brain kick into problem solving gear. Breathe like you've just finished a run. In for five seconds, out for ten. And again... soon you'll feel a little better.

2. Put everything into perspective. On a scale of life, how dire is your situation? For example: you have a date and you feel anxiety about whether or not this date will go well. Think about this instead of the negative element: regardless of whether or not your date goes well, you are a wonderful person and will find someone who you're meant to be with. The in-betweens are just fine tuning your preferences. Remember, until death, there are no mistakes that cannot be undone. What I mean is, you can pick up and move on.

3. Realize that nothing is or will ever be perfect. Will it permanently damage your child to let him cry for five minutes longer than usual, while you pee in peace? So what if that parking ticket will be on your record? Will it ruin your life if your wedding isn't exactly as planned? Going with the flow of life's little (or, granted, large) rapids will only teach you to be flexible. Gary Smalley once said, "Stress is the difference between what you expect and what you get." Does it mean to lower your expectations? No, it just means that you might need to include a little wiggle room with them.

4. Take inventory. I'm a great list-er. Inventory was always an enjoyable thing for me when I worked in retail. Being able to see every single item under my responsibility helped me settle into a groove, a pattern. Try thinking of all the things going right in life. For me specifically, I concentrate on things like this: my son is safe and happy; I am supported by loved ones and am healthy; summer will always come back around; there are plenty of fish in the sea (this isn't only for a significant other, you know. Fish can be friends, too); God will never leave me or forsake me.

5. Intentionally ignore the bad. There is rarely an opportunity for one to miss the silver lining in any moment. Is your boss a total jerk? Focus, instead, on a co-worker that you seem to get along with. At least you're not surrounded by jerks. Your figure isn't where you want it to be right now? Decide to see your best feature- and appreciate it.

6. Find a BFF. Keeping it all bottled up is a big no-no. Find someone whom you trust and know will offer their ears for listening and shoulders for crying on. They may not have the answer you need, but by allowing whatever emotions are pent up you will be one step closer to be anxiety-free.

7. Focus on these scriptures:

Philippians 4:6-7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. "

Matthew 6:25-34
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


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