As a teenager, whenever I threw attitude at my mom, she would simply say “you need to go for a run.” Off I’d go pounding the path on the levee along the Mississippi river, sweating in the swampy New Orleans heat, and cleansing all the gunk out. I’d come back thinking “Who WAS that person earlier and WHAT was HER problem?”
Not much has changed for me as an adult, except that I’ve picked up a few other sure-fire tips which prevent me from spiraling into the depths of doubt and depression caused by anxiety.
1 – Sweat
It only takes a small exertion of energy to fully distract the mind since the body is ‘working.’ When I’m preparing to exercise, I’m usually in a foul mood moaning about all the reasons why I don’t have time to work out. Then I get going and I sweat. This is the release of pressure we all need. When I’m done, the problems which seemed insurmountable now seem miniscule and silly.
2 – Meditate
About 15 months ago, I started meditating twice a day for 20 minutes. I’ve been calmer in tense situations and way more content with life in general. Recently I was traveling and was unable to meditate for 3 straight days. I noticed the change immediately on that 3rd day. My self esteem was low, I was tired, super irritable and having trouble sleeping. Intellectually, I‘m aware of all the benefits of meditation but I had honestly underestimated the dramatic effect it had on my daily life.
3 – Get on the Wagon
I enjoy having a cocktail or a glass of wine while catching up with friends just like the rest of us. But something I’ve noticed recently is that when I’ve had just one drink, the next day I am definitely not as clear. I don’t sleep well, I start eating salty, high fat foods and my meditation practice gets thrown aside. Then there’s the self loathing element that creeps in and I know that if these types of mornings add up, that cruel voice will get the best of me.
4 – Focus
We all need a purpose in life. When we put the time in and accomplish a task, we feel better about ourselves. Instead of being distracted by your phone or email, set aside some time to focus on something you’ve been wanting to accomplish, whether it’s cleaning out a closet, keeping a journal or weeding the garden. When we focus on a task, it serves as an alternate form of meditation, and boosts our self esteem.
These are just a few things that work for me and of course I slip and slide on these depending on the time of year. In general though, I can always (usually) find my way back by utilizing these.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Originally published at medium.com