One of anxiety’s cruelest tricks is breeding a false sense of urgency. A nagging feeling you need to finish what you’re doing and get where you’re going with utmost immediacy, or else. Contrary to what we hope will happen, relief is not waiting on the other side of our latest mission. Instead we find more to-dos, more deadlines, and more places to be. We rush, we hurry, we multitask: all efforts to alleviate a pressure we’re likely placing on ourselves.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, the moments we’re feeling most frantic and hectified (yes, I made that word up) are the same moments we need to hit the brakes. I’m fully aware how counter-productive this can feel, and as such how challenging it can be, but in the long run it renders us more effective and more, well, sane.
I want to emphasize the importance of addressing the underlying factors playing into our anxiety- our anxious symptoms are telling us we have larger needs going unmet, needs we can learn how to effectively address. In the meantime, however, we can give ourselves space to slow down our minds and bodies to regain some perspective.
Here are some ways that work for me:
- Slow down the physical pace of your steps, and take a few deep breaths while mentally (or verbally) reciting some positive self-talk. You really do “got this”, and everything really will “be okay”.
- Pull yourself away from the desk and go on a five minute walk. Pay attention to each of your five senses and what they’re experiencing. Get that blood pumping and oxygen moving in a healthy way.
- Drive the speed limit- yes, even in those pesky 25 mph zones.
- Stand in the longest line at the grocery store- you’ll survive, I promise!
- Take the long way home. Perhaps cliche, but cliches are often such for a reason- they work!
- Hold off writing that text or email for a few minutes- it can still be written when your commute is over and you don’t have one hand on the steering wheel. You’ll probably (definitely) do a better job on it anyway.
- Actually stop and smell some roses.
- Eat slowly- put the fork down, chew an extra couple times. Food and the conversation that accompany mealtimes are meant to be enjoyed. Don't miss out!
There’s my list. What would you add to yours?