I find myself feeling anxious over dealing with day-to-day items and stressors. I know this isn’t healthy for me mentally or physically. I want to be more Present and live in the current moment. So, I’ve set the goal for myself to use mindfulness practices to help lessen my anxiety levels.
I Feel Anxious Every Day
I think the anxiety stems partially from the freelance lifestyle that I mentioned in a previous post. Things like always needing to search for more work, always being concerned about where the next paycheck will come from, etc. I think the stress is also due, in part, to the general anxiety I deal with on a daily basis. I just have a tendency to worry about things in the future.
I think many people struggle with this. We worry about situations from daily life; we worry about interactions or disagreements that occur in our family, friend or work groups; we worry about the health of people we care about. Basically, we just worry a lot! Often times there’s nothing particularly awful occurring, these are just the situations we encounter over the course of life for any given day, week or month. These are normal things to concern ourselves with, but what can we do to ease the strain caused by that constant level of stress?
How I Lessen Anxiety with Mindfulness
I’m striving to implement a “Just Groovin'” mindset†. Read on for tips on how to use this to reduce your levels of anxiety and to live in the moment…
†You may remember this from a post from last summer, where I discussed us visiting a great BBQ spot in Marble, Colorado. It was called Slow Groovin’ BBQ, but their message was basically to just take time to enjoy the simple things in life. The Trekkers have made this into a personal, family motto of sorts, though we edited the name to “Just Groovin’!”
5 Tips to “Just Groove”: Using Mindfulness to Live in the Moment and Reduce Stress:
1) Stop Catastrophizing! This is a therapeutic term that basically means, don’t imagine what horrible things can go wrong in a situation when it hasn’t even happened yet, or you don’t even have all the details regarding it yet.
This is something I struggle with regularly. I am striving to not worry about *insert-situation-here* until it actually happens. Usually, things play out better than I imagined they would anyway. Often, I build up all this angst around an impending event and then it ends up proceeding far more smoothly (and often more quickly) than I had anticipated. Then I’m left with this surplus of negative energy that had been consuming me that, as it turns out, was completely unnecessary. Now I have no way to release that pent up strain, so it is just added to my ongoing stress load.
Instead, I want to “just groove” through life, to just deal with things when and if they happen.
2) Don’t Stress Yourself Out Over Everyday Tasks. I have this habit of rushing to get everything that’s on my to-do list for that day, or week (or month) done as efficiently as possible. While it’s good to not procrastinate when necessary tasks need to be completed, and its also good to implement productive, time-management practices.
We shouldn’t let ourselves get stressed out about these things. That causes unnecessary mental and physical tension. Again, I am usually able to complete all the to-do items that day (or at the very least that week or month) and it often takes less time than I thought it would. So then I am stressed out, and for what? Time and again, the list has been completed (usually more easily and quickly than I anticipated), and all I’m left with is a further build-up of negative energy that I now struggle to relieve.
Are you seeing a pattern here? 😋 This compounding of stress just further contributes to the unnecessary tension we feel in our daily lives. 🤯 Ugh! This is why anxiety is so mentally exhausting!
3) Stop Stressing About the Future: We need to remove the word “might” from our vocabulary. People with anxiety are always worried about what “might” happen in the future. “My boss MIGHT yell at me when he calls me into the office; those routine tests at the doctor MIGHT show something bad…” Let’s stop with the “might”!
There’s only so much we can control in life. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Not everyone is big on the Bible, but I think this is some advice that can benefit all people, whether they are religious or not. We need to stop worrying about what “might” come tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Because these things are only MIGHTS, they aren’t actually occurring yet, and we can’t deal with them until they happen. So, let’s be mindful, live in the present, and expend our precious, mental energy on what is actually occurring RIGHT NOW!
4) Don’t Miss Out on Today’s Joys by Worrying about Tomorrow. Not all stress comes from negative events. We have a tendency to want to rush through life so that we can get to the good stuff, though that may mean we don’t fully experience or appreciate the simpler, everyday nuggets we encounter along the way.
A famous philosopher once described this problem in his young apprentice, “all his life he has looked away to the future…to the horizon…never his mind on where he was…what he was doing…” (If you’re imagining a small, elderly, goblin-looking creature, talking about Luke Skywalker…you’d be correct. Hey, Yoda was sort of like a philosopher! I’m a Star Wars nerd and I’m not sorry. 😉)
It’s good to enjoy the fun and exciting parts of life. But the humble joys of our daily existence are important too. Things like watching your children play on the playground, having a talk on the swing with an aging parent or pulling off the side of the road just to watch a particularly, stunning sunset. In the end, these are what we experience most often and they are what we’ll remember in the long run. These are the little things that make life worth living.
5) Just Groove! My goal for the next six months is to learn to just “go with the flow”. I will strive to not allow myself to be anxious about things unless I KNOW that there is something to be anxious about.
You may be thinking, “ever thought of trying some meds?” Anti-anxiety medication is always an option, of course (full disclosure, I do use it, occasionally, on days that feel particularly stressful). But I don’t want to have to rely on it for the rest of my–hopefully lengthy–lifetime. I don’t want to need it just to get me through the normal pressures of daily existence. It seems to me, being that most of us live in a time and place where the quality of life is about the best it’s ever been, throughout the entire course of human history, that I don’t have any excuse to build up so much stress over just getting through the day.
This is where the concept of “Just Groovin'” comes in. Basically it means, take life as it comes. I am striving to embrace mindful minimalism, and only concern myself with problems as they present themselves (rather than wasting mental energy to worry about them ahead of time).
Want to join me on this quest? Tell me in the comments about your tips for using mindfulness to lessen daily stress, and live in the present moment.
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