Despite the stress and uncertainty that comes with living in 2017, it's important to remain calm and grounded. That's why Patrick Williams at YourTango gave us nine ways to manage our anxiety during tumultuous periods of time.
Yes, the world is crazy right now. But you can cultivate your "inner chill." Here's how.
As Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities in 1859, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness."
Doesn't this ring so true today, too?
There are many views and perceptions for us in this world. If you watch and read the news you may become inundated with the negative, the sensational, the political, and feel incredibly stressed or anxious.
And yet the whole world is not that. There are many great and wonderful acts and human stories. You may have to search for them, but they are so uplifting.
We need to be conscious of what we say to whom, and that the people (and forms of communication) we have in our lives are truthful and transparent. Even the news and movies we watch are conversations.
Sometimes we need to make choices to balance the media meme of violence and negative news with positive and uplifting media. From Falling Awake, Dave Ellis writes, "Moment by moment, we get to choose our conversations and community. What's at stake is enormous — everything we say, hear, watch, listen to, read, and see. No choices are more powerful than these."
Here are nine things you can do on purpose in order to have an extraordinary life — no matter what chaos exists outside of yourself:
- Have a target, a personal mission statement, a life purpose, or a compelling future that draws you toward your desired life.
You can only prefer your future, not demand it. Planning and goal-setting help, but remember that even aeroplanes are off-target 90 percent of the flight. Lots of mini-adjustments are made to what is occurring in the now.
- Have an uncluttered life.
This includes physical and emotional clutter. Do a clean sweep of unwanted things, and then work on where and with whom you can be "emotionally naked." Work on life's incompletions. It is said that we all come with baggage. A true friend is one that will help you unpack!
- Live in the present.
Sure, you have to envision and think about your future, but it is really unknown and made up. Even your story about the past is just your story. It has been said, "The past is history, the future but a mystery. The present is a gift. That is why it's called the present."
- Create a toleration-free zone.
If there are things that are bugging you, what I call "gnats and nuisances," things you are frustrated by, then follow the guide of "do it, dump it, or delegate it (or delay it)."
By choosing to not tolerate energy drainers, you can take action by doing something to take care of the toleration. Or you can just dump it. That is, forget it about it, especially if there is nothing you can do. Get it off your list. Or you can delegate the challenge. Hire someone who can fix it, or complete a task for you, or take it off your radar. Or delay it. Deal with it later, but don't worry about it today.
Why waste energy on it? The key here is not to deny it and forget to do one of the other strategies. Just give it time and revisit.
- Give yourself extreme self-care.
Be good to yourself. Not just nice, but extreme. Reward yourself with something that gives you energy rather than drains you of energy. Get a foot massage. Go to the beach, the woods, the mountains, or lake. Go out for a special treat. Do this periodically, and you build up reserves!
- Understand the myth of work/life balance.
Have a centre point to come back to. Balance is temporary, but a practice of daily centreing and coming back to balance creates a more sturdy sense of security.
- Say no and yes with conviction.
When I coach my clients on living their best life, we get to clarify their purpose early on. Then when they have requests from others or demands of the job, they can consider the request of their time and energy.
If it fits with their purpose statements and values, they say yes. If it does not, they say no. Or at least they can say, "Maybe. Let me think about it." You can do the same exact thing. Many people do not tell the truth when others ask them to commit to something or help another, and that lack of naked communication costs them dearly.
- Choose to under-promise and over-deliver.
This is a hallmark of the coaching profession and that of personal or business development. It does not mean to make promises or commitments that are not well-conceived or important. But it does allow one to have some leeway.
For example, if at work, you are asked when you can have a proposal on your supervisor's desk. State you can have it in a week, and deliver in five days. Do this instead of promising something you can't deliver, or that will not be polished and ready for review. I'm sure you can think of many areas in personal or family life where this same strategy can be helpful.
- Respond, do not react.
This is tantamount to living less a stressful life on purpose. As humans, we have a natural, built-in reaction of fight-or-flight. But our evolution also allows us to pause for a brief moment and survey the options that may be available to choose instead of a knee-jerk reaction immediately.
Even first responders and emergency professionals are trained to react with responses available. They quickly ascertain choices based on their training instead of a less-trained person reacting with fear, paralysis, inaction, or unhelpful action.
To design a preferred personal future, you need to have a plan and yet be present to life's natural flow.
Our lives are shaped by incompletions, fears, attachments, addictions, unmet needs, procrastinations, and tolerations. Like barnacles on the hull of a boat, we must have an annual cleaning, at minimum, for smoother sailing.
Clean up your clutter, unfinished business, and wounds. Orient your life around your values and gifts. Be an observer of life. Be curious and learn what you are having the opportunity to learn.
Life is moving forward always, but you cannot step in the same river twice.
Check out more great stories from YourTango:
- The Scary Way Stress Is Destroying Your Relationship
- 10 Things Your Friend With Anxiety Wants You to Know
- 3 Peaceful Ways to Combat the Stress of Your Divorce