OK – so you reckon I’m not really anxious? What about that worry I have that I might not be able to pay my mortgage next month? I feel pretty anxious about that. And I think that my best friend is really cross with me – I feel anxious about that. In fact, I feel uptight and stressed. Its all very well but actually…….
Wow, just slow down. This is how I used to feel much of the time. Until, that is, I learnt how to get on top of these thoughts. Because that’s all they are; thoughts. My anxiety only exists because of the thoughts I have. But how do I control those thoughts? I had got so used to living in the turmoil of anxiety and stress that I didn’t have any idea of how to stop, to step away from the turmoil.
Live in the moment they all said. How could I? I was so busy stressing that I had forgotten what the moment was. First I tried to control my thoughts, I examined them, considered them and fretted over them. Now I just notice them and let them go. I don’t give them the space they want to grow and flourish.
Let me share a few ideas with you. Now, I am no expert but these work for me and some might work for you.
I started walking – really going for those 10,000 steps a day. In the beginning all I did was fret and worry. Then I discovered audio books. If you let your thoughts stray when you are listening to a story then you lose the plot (quite literally) and have to rewind. This gets very tedious. Books worked to shut up the thoughts that were making me anxious. Listening absorbed my attention and took me away from whatever was troubling me – it gave me space. Books showed me that I didn’t have to dwell on the troublesome thoughts.
Then I began noticing the world about me, I noticed the little weed with the pretty flower growing in a scrappy patch. I did more than notice, I took a picture (on my ubiquitous phone) and saved it. I trained myself to notice the world around me. I took pictures of a stray piece of ivy growing through the wall, I lifted my eyes and saw the horizon (I live in the Fens, there’s a lot of sky). My library of pictures grew and I felt grateful. Grateful for the world around me and for everything that I have in it. I still had anxious thoughts but I let them pass and focused on everything positive in my life. Deep down I knew that the anxiety would pass and that a solution would be found. I also knew that fretting on something would not alter anything. So I took action where I needed to and let go of the worry. And of course, I have benefitted hugely from all that fresh air and all those steps!