When it comes to the aspects of your life that require figuring out, do you think of everything all at once and find yourself feeling overwhelmed? I have to admit that, for all my emphasis on creative thinking, sometimes I do. Thankfully, I have several amazing people in my life who talk me off the ledges of my anxiety, who remind me that problems can be solved one step at a time and that mulling over all of one’s worries at one time never really solves anything at all.
But, in the middle of a personal crisis, it can seem like everything in the world is going wrong and that things are insurmountable. This morning I was thinking about the ways that we are either effective or ineffective at dealing with the adversity in our lives. To me, it seems to be all about balance. I’m sure you’ve woken up in an emotional funk, right? Emotional funks are a pain in the neck because they can come out of nowhere and, what drives me the most crazy is that they can come at you right behind a wave of high emotional bliss. Tackling an emotional funk is a highly personal thing and one person’s tonic can be another person’s black hole.
Here is what I know about regaining balance when stress and anxiety creep in:
- Take a breath. Perhaps the best way to stop your mind from going into overload is to stop and take a breath. Acknowledge the day, your body, your vision, where you are standing in place and time. In a life so full of hurrying, we should really do this more often but especially when stress is present. Simply pause in the place where you are to take inventory of what your five senses are receiving.
- Connect. Being in your own head isn’t always the best place to be. Connecting with others is a surefire way to crawl out of a dark corner in your mind. Try calling someone you care about and asking them about their life or their day. Finding out what is going on with others is the perfect antidote to wallowing in our own thoughts and it strengthens the relationships that enrich our lives.
- Move. And do it outside in the world! Stress often makes us feel like we don’t want to do anything at all. It makes us tired and lethargic. Fight the urge to do nothing and do what you can whether it’s running ten, crazy miles or taking a short walk around your neighborhood. Get the blood flowing, breathe deeply and expand your lungs, notice the world outside your door. Say hello to a passerby.
- Do one thing. I know there’s a million things on your LIST. And, if your to-do list is like mine, you know you can never accomplish it all in a day, a week or maybe even a month. So, pick one thing that you can do today and do it. Whether it’s making a phone call or writing an email that you’ve been putting off or something that requires leaving the comfort of your daily routine, just do it. Then, take a pen and cross it off your list. Tomorrow, start on another thing.
- Be grateful. There’s a lot of talk about gratitude these days but study after study continues to show that regardless of a person’s level of adversity, those who can find true gratitude in their lives tend to reap a whole host of benefits from personal well being to professional success. It’s hardest to be grateful when you feel like nothing is going your way but these moments of thankfulness can be the points that form a path forward out of our own emotional funk.
Recently, I’ve started getting a subscription from the folks over at the Daily Good, a great website committed to publishing inspiring news. Each day I get a themed collection of daily good in my inbox–an essay, an article and a quote. Today’s quote was from Anais Nin.
“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see.”
I like the idea of renewed perception as the cure for familiarity because it says to me that, sometimes, we can get our balance back just by doing things a little bit differently. How do you get your balance back, friends?
TRY THIS WEEK: Striking the balance.