Some relaxation music to read by: Dolphins Delight by Ambient Space)
You probably don’t like feeling stressed or that unidentifiable underlying unease that defines anxiety. Many of us lump all of our symptoms into one broad category and call it stress – but many of us are really suffering from chronic anxiety.
Stress is often situational and associated with negative feelings and reactions. It develops when we feel overwhelmed and inadequate to handle the heavy demands of our life. Stress is often divided into categories to help our understanding. Here are some examples:
■Emotional Stress Symptoms: feeling lonely and isolated, embarrassment, anger, sadness, grief, loss.
■Cognitive Stress (negative thinking): I can’t, I might make a mistake, “what if” thinking, overwhelm.
■Physiological Stress: Hot flashes produced by medical condition, aches and pains, poor sleep and exhaustion.
Those who struggle with anxiety often describe a vague, unpleasant sense of apprehension or fear that seems to have no logical cause and no end. Many anxiety sufferers talk about feelings of terror and the horror of experiencing symptoms like heart palpitations, panic attacks and phobias. Some of the most common mental health dis-eases that come about because of chronic anxiety are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (a pervasive fear/concern you can’t shake), Social Phobia (feeling overwhelmed and inadequate socially), Agoraphobia (fear of leaving your home) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Because stress and anxiety are household words and everyday problems for millions of people, I’ve decided to share a list of ideas to help you live more peacefully and joyfully every day of your life. In fact, these are self-help tools I live by and teach regularly.
Learn to recognize your negative thinking patterns – Every time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, re-frame the negative thought into a positive thought. The thought, “I hate going to work” becomes, “Even though work is challenging, I am up to the task.”
Treat yourself with love and compassion – The same love and compassion you give unconditionally to your children, grandchildren, your best friend, or even you beloved pet.
Reduce chemical and electromagnetic exposure.
Reduce your intake of sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, food additives and preservatives.
Decrease the EMF’s (Electromagnetic Fields) in your environment by being aware of cell phones, electric clocks, uncovered electrical outlets, electrical wiring, near by power stations and cell phone towers.
Reduce your internal stress – Have important vitamin levels checked by your doctor. Vitamin D helps prevent disease and increases your vigor and muscle strength. Vitamin B levels – especially B-6 and B-12 – because they protect and vitalize your nervous system. Take your vitamin C – It helps you manufacture adrenal cortical hormones, which are important to good endocrine/nervous system health.
Stop reading or watching stress and anxiety producing books, TV shows, movies, cable news – They keep your mind negatively focused, stimulate your fear response, and disturb your sleep.
Re-channel the negative energy produced by stress and anxiety into positive activity. Yoga helps ease depression and yogic breathing reduces stress and anxiety. Meditation increases your rejuvenation time – time you are relaxed and peaceful . Tai chi is wonderful for all anxiety, including PTSD, causing you to be fully present. Live a now-focused life – Learn to enjoy each moment.
Learn how to breathe correctly and begin practicing breathing exercises everyday.
Paste some self-empowering affirmations on your mirror and say them every morning before you go to work and before you go to sleep. For example, if you struggle with self-confidence and self-worth issues, try affirmations similar to these:
■I accept myself with all of my positive and negative characteristics.
■I commit to thinking positive thoughts about myself and my life.
■I am a person of worth and beauty.
Learn how to do a Heart Massage – an energy balancing, positive belief producing activity. Imagine a clock laying on your chest, with the face pointing out for others to see. Place your right hand in the center of your chest with your fingers pointing to the left at 3:00. Begin to create a circle with your hand, circling down to 6:00 and up to 9:00 and around 12:00 and back to the center of your chest with your fingers pointing once again to 3:00. When you visualize the movement, begin to add affirmations along with the circles you are making with your hand:
■I am a good person.
■I do the best that I can.
■I am filled with wisdom and insight.
■I am loving and compassionate with myself.
■I forgive my mistakes and accept my shortcomings.
■Even though I am not perfect, I am a good, kind person doing the best that I can. I am safe.
■I am strong and loving. I am a good person doing the best that I can.
Love, Trust and Forgive yourself on a daily basis. Don’t let self-inflicted negativity carry over into the next day.
Begin to look at your life realistically, mentally making note of all the positives that surround you. Everyday, make a list of your joys and re-read them occasionally. Joys can be as simple as enjoying a spring rain to as exciting as welcoming a new baby into the family. See my article about creating a Joy Journal at http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/how-to-keep-a-joy-journal
Remember to smile. “ A smile is the beginning of peace”. ~ Mother Teresa
Janet Nestor is a holistic mental health therapist, energy psychologist, educator, speaker, workshop leader and author of Pathways to Wholeness, a mindfulness guidebook available on Amazon at http://amzn.to./hnDP7P and www.mindfulpathways.com. Her new book Nurturing Wellness Through Radical Self-Care: A Living in Balance is due out spring 2012.