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5 Strategies for Managing Anxious Thoughts

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Anxiety has a way of hijacking our mind and body to a point of exhaustion. It wants to convince us that worrying can help us control the problem and prepare for the future. Even though we know, that many of the anxious thoughts are illogical, we often can’t seem to shut them off. Here are 5 easy techniques you can use when faced with maladaptive thoughts.

  • Distraction. Find a way of diverting your attention away from the thought, even if it is just for a second. Do that continuously until the thought goes away. For example, listen to music, think of something positive, or mindfully drink a glass of water. You can also wear a rubber band on your wrist and every time a certain thought arises, snap the rubber band.
  • Exercise Outdoors. Anxious mind often contributes to a tense body. When you engage in intense exercise, you help your body release tension and your mind often times relaxes as well. Not to mention a set of physiological processes, that help to elevate dopamine and other helpful neurotransmitters. A series of studies have also shown that walking in nature can stop rumination. Go hiking or running in a park and tune into the sounds and smells around you.
  • Be an observer. Mindfulness meditation can be very helpful with this one. You can practice observing your thoughts and being able to disengage from them. You can allow the thoughts to come, knowing that you do not have to act on them or have an emotional reaction to them. They are just thoughts, not facts, and you get to decide which ones you want to pay attention to. You can notice a negative thought and say to yourself:”my brain is creating stories again but I don’t have to listen to them, I chose to focus on something else”. You can imagine your mind is like a hotel and the thoughts are like guests trying to check it. You can welcome them and kindly say:” I am sorry, I have no rooms available for you”.
  • Talk back. Because anxious thoughts are irrational, you can try to question them. Ask yourself: “Is this really true? What evidence do I have? Am I helping myself by worrying? How can I make this easier for myself? How can I think of this differently?”. You can also come up with short words or phrases you can say to yourself when certain maladaptive thoughts arise. For example: “Let go”, “Not helping”, “Thanks for sharing but I’m not getting on this train of thought”.
  • Have a plan. When experiencing anxiety, we often go towards worst case scenarios. If there is an issue you often worry about, come up with a plan of what you will do if the worst happens (even if unlikely). Also, making To Do lists and creating structure in your day, can calm the anxious mind.

If you are interested in creating a personalized anxiety management plan, please contact me at emilia@whole-living-center.com or schedule the appointment directly through my website. In person or video sessions are available. I can work with you on developing the skills you need to bring more calm and balance into your life.

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Effortless Living

Burt Shavitz is a founder and face of Burt’s Bees, a line of natural, personal care products. He is also a subject of a documentary called:”Burt’s Buzz”, that chronicles his life and the story of Burt’s Bees. Burt is an inspirational character, who despite modest income chooses to live in a small hut in rural Maine, without TV, internet or hot water.

His authenticity, contentment with life and resourcefulness, truly amazes me. He appears to have a great strength of character and resilience that draws people to him. He is not a fan of crowds, however, and is known to say: ” A good day is when none shows up and you don’t have to go anywhere”.

Burt, now 80, seems to have the courage to live on his terms. That is something we can all learn from him. Throughout his life, he always followed his curiosity. Rather than focusing on making a living, he chose to focus on making a life. By living simply, he always found a way to support himself. He was not afraid to leave situations that were not serving him anymore.

Perhaps, this is the way to make our life more effortless. We need to trust, that our curiosity can lead us to our calling and that what we have to offer, is enough to create a meaningful life.

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Top 3 Obstacles To Goal Accomplishment

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Here we are again, starting a new year, full of hope and ready to tackle some new year’s resolutions. Many of us will set goals to change something about our behavior. And, as research has shown, 60% of us will fail within 6 months.

Here are the top three reasons why we may find it challenging to stick with our resolutions:

1. Setting unrealistic goals

The best way to set ourselves up for failure is to create a goal that is beyond our reach. In fact, that is how most of us will sabotage ourselves, by choosing a goal, that we know we cannot accomplish within a given time frame. Pick a goal that you can easily reach, so you quickly gain a sense of accomplishment, that will motivate you to do more. If you do the opposite, you end up feeling like a failure and may give up very quickly. Learn to break down larger goals into smaller sub-steps to feel like you are making progress.

3. Negative self talk

Our inner dialogue can be our worst enemy. We say the most cruel things to ourselves. Next time you struggle with goal accomplishment, ask yourself: Do I actually believe that I will get there? Do I believe I can do it? Do I criticize myself for not accomplishing it quickly enough? Examine the thoughts that run through your mind everyday and learn to practice some self compassion.

3. Setting goals that are not meaningful enough

Feelings and passion have a lot of power to propel us into action. If the goal you are trying to tackle does not feel meaningful enough, it will be hard to motivate yourself to stick with it. Find ways to become excited about the final result. Visualize yourself reaching your goal and get in touch with the feelings of satisfaction you will feel. If despite the effort, you are still not excited about it, then maybe it is the wrong goal.

http://www.mindswithintegrity.com

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Note to self

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Each year, on January 1st, I write a letter to myself to be read in a year. It is an interesting exercise to try to imagine the kind of person you will be then. Year after year, I realize that it is not just about reminding myself of the goals I want to accomplish. It is also about remembering the good times and all the progress I made in the passing year. Our memory is selective. We all have a tendency to remember the failures and wrongdoings longer than the successes and moments of enjoyment. The letter to my future self is to remind me of what may be long forgotten in a year.

futureme.org, is a service that allows me to deliver my note to self in an email. The creators of this site claim that it is “based on the principle that memories are less accurate than e-mails.” You can choose to make your message public for the enjoyment and inspiration of others. One of the users wrote the following message to himself/herself: “Dear future me, I hope you are sailing the world at this point. If not, you are a looser”. What can I say…Some people’s future self may need a little nudge to stay on track…

I hope we all find something to appreciate about the year we are leaving behind. And as we wish each other Happy New Year let’s also share gratitude for the good memories of 2014.

http://www.relaxforawhile.com