It’s true what they say – life does begin at the end of your comfort zone.
The more you suffer from high anxiety, the more it will take a chunk out of your comfort zone.
Anxiety will chip away at your confidence, and every day your comfort zone will get smaller and smaller until your confidence is completely gone.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Why? Because the smaller your comfort zone is, the more anxiety will take over your life and the harder you’ll find it to cope.
To get back in control and stop the high anxiety from taking over, we have to stop our comfort zone from shrinking by doing the opposite and expanding it.
What is a comfort zone?
We all live within a comfort zone that we've created. Everyone's comfort zone is different.
To some people, jumping out of a plane is 'normal' - so it's within their comfort zone. To others, just the thought of doing it is enough to create panic.
Our comfort zones are the reason some of us feel anxious in certain situations and places, and why some of us don't have a care in the world.
Let's use the supermarket as a common example.
To most people, going to the supermarket is an everyday, common scenario. But if you've had a panic attack in a supermarket, or become highly anxious while you've been there, that will induce fear - so you’ll avoid going.
The fear will make you believe that a supermarket is a threat to your survival, and you'll keep avoiding it.
The more you avoid going to the supermarket, the less likely it will be that you will ever want to go again.
Your comfort zone is shrinking every time you make a decision not to go.
You'll get comfortable using avoidance as a short-term solution to your high anxiety, and so you'll avoid more things (which will continue to shrink your comfort zone further).
After a period of time, your comfort zone might get so small that you don't want to leave your house - or bedroom. Your house or bedroom becomes your 'safe place', and everything outside of it is perceived as a threat to your survival.
Now, do you see how quickly your anxiety-based comfort zone can shrink, and how quickly it can become an issue?
It starts with something like the supermarket, but before you know it, the fear has spread through your life like wildfire until you can’t leave your house and do normal everyday things.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry - there is good news!
The good news about this shrinking comfort zone is it can be expanded again.
By using time, practice and small steps, you can stop your comfort zone from shrinking, and with a bit of confidence, you can grow your comfort zone – to the point where you might even get comfortable doing the things you've never done before. (Before high anxiety became an issue.)
You might get so good at expanding your comfort zone that you're able to do things you've never done before.
Maybe that skydive is closer than you think? :)
How to expand your comfort zone
Let's start with a simple question: What have you been avoiding?
Is it the supermarket?
Is it a conversation with someone?
Is it leaving your house?
Is it your boss?
Is it paying a bill?
Whatever 'it' is, facing it holds the key to you expanding your comfort zone.
The more we use avoidance, the more the situation gets out of control. Very much like when we internalise our feelings by bottling things inside and not communicating what's on our minds - they end up becoming bigger than they are.
When we take action by making small steps, we expand our comfort zone.
The bigger our comfort zone, the more capable we are of dealing with the challenges that life will inevitably throw at us - including high anxiety.
Step into a new comfort zone
Over the next 5-7 days, we're going to expand your comfort zone a little more every day by doing these three simple things.
1. Take what it is you've been avoiding.
2. Come up with the next small step that you can take towards getting it done.
3. Take that small step, and once you accomplish it, move onto the next small step.
Keep making steps until your comfort zone has expanded to where it is you want it to be. (You'll know when your comfort zone has expanded because you won't feel as anxious about doing the thing you were avoiding.)
Your comfort zone will naturally expand as you continue to take the small steps towards achieving it.
Each goal will have a different timescale dependent on how big your comfort zone needs to expand. For example, if your goal is to go abroad and you're currently struggling to leave your home, this won't be an overnight process. But as long as you keep making those small steps to make it happen, it WILL happen.
It's just a matter of time.
The more you expose yourself to whatever it is you've been avoiding, the quicker you'll overcome it. For example, if you want to overcome a fear of driving on a motorway, you have to keep exposing yourself to the motorway as often as you can - even if you don't need to go on the motorway.
Think of it like this.
How much quicker will you learn to play the guitar if you dedicated three hours every day to it, compared to just one hour a week?
The same principle applies to anything you want to get better at - including overcoming high anxiety. The more you expose yourself to it and, the more you practice it, the better you'll get and the quicker it will happen.
At first, you might need support, so don't be afraid to ask for help (if that is an option).
Just be aware not to become dependent on the person(s) offering you help. That will defeat the object, and your comfort zone won't grow unless you have a level of independence.
If you've been avoiding a place, like a supermarket, while you're expanding your comfort zone, take your headphones with you. Listening to music or an audiobook will help.
How did 2017 treat you?
How were your levels of anxiety? Did the year have lots of ups and downs? Of course it did – because that’s normal.
Good days. Crappy days. Happy days. Anxious days. It’s all par for the course.
The trick lies in getting the balance right – even better when you can tip the balance in your favour. How? is the question.
Here are seven suggestions to help you get 2018 off to the right start and manage your levels of anxiety.
1. Expand your comfort zone
When I look back at the year, I asked myself the question: Did my comfort zone increase or shrink? The honest answer is it stayed about the same. I did some things that expanded my comfort zone and other things I’ve always done – including procrastinating on a few things that I knew I needed to work on but tried to avoid. A life with healthy levels of anxiety is a life that grows – and that includes a growing comfort zone. The more your comfort zone shrinks, the more you’re allowing anxiety to dictate what you’re doing. Make 2018 the year you continue to expand your comfort zone.
2. Try something new (and different)
Talking of expanding comfort zones, I’m going to set you a challenge for 2018. I’ve even got a good name for the challenge: The Expand Your Comfort Zone To Increase Your Healthy Levels of Anxiety and Decrease Your Bad Anxiety challenge. (I tried to think of a more obvious name but couldn’t come up with one.) The way to win this challenge is simple. Do one thing that you wouldn’t normally do - something that takes you out of your comfort zone - something different. Take the class you wanted to go to but haven’t got around to booking. Ask her out on a date. Change your career and tell your boss to do one. (OK, so that’s maybe a step too far?) Do something new and different, and 2018 will be a better year than you think.
3. Worry a lot less about what people think
This is a subject I’ll be talking a lot about in 2018. Why? Because of how much it’s linked to our levels of anxiety. Social media. The way we look. What we say. The fear of people and what they think is way up there when it comes to causing high anxiety. When you sort your self-confidence out and worry a lot less about what other people think, you feel a hell of a lot better – including a lot less anxious. What other people think is none of your business. Focus on yourself. Concentrate on you and what you can control. Watch this space for lots more advice and info.
4. Laugh more
When I think about the times I was most anxious in 2017 it was when things felt serious. There are things in life that are no joke, like the a-holes who continue to do their best to bring you down. But being Mr or Mrs Serious won’t make things better. When you feel things getting on top of you in 2018, lighten the mood. Put on your favourite comedy, and have a laugh. Make 2018 the year you laugh more.
5. Get out and about
Your brain likes routine, and having a routine is good for reducing anxiety. But Groundhog Day, including being stuck in the house, is a guaranteed way to induce anxiety. Get out the house. Stop looking at the same four walls. Take a break. Get in the car and drive somewhere you’ve never been. Take a walk and get some fresh air. Book a weekend away. Do something spontaneous – something that will help you break the monotonous pattern.
6. Stop doing things you hate
We all need to do things we don’t like doing. Life is far from perfect. But life is also short. Don’t believe anything other. It is way too short to continue doing the things you hate with a passion. When you look back at 2017, what causes a bad taste in your mouth? Change it. It might not change overnight, but just identifying that you want to change and taking action to change it means you’re already steps ahead of where you were last year. Just keep making those small steps and keep taking action. Change will be inevitable.
7. Be more grateful
Think about the times you were angry, resentful, and jealous in 2017. What did these emotions do for you? Make you feel good? Make you feel less anxious? Nah. Don’t get me wrong – it’s normal to feel these things every now and again. But let these emotions take you over, and it’s game over. You can guarantee that bags of relentless anxiety come with them all. For 2018, focus on being more grateful. You can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time. A little bit of gratitude a day goes a long way.
I would have also included eating better and exercising more, but you’ve already seen this advice a thousand times already. You’ve likely got the exercise DVDs scattered over the living room floor already. But this advice is for a good reason. Just by making a small improvement in your diet and doing more exercise can massively lower your anxiety. They’re on my action list for 2018.
The next time you get a worrying or anxious thought I want you to remember D.A.D.
‘What’s DAD got to do with anything?’, I hear you say.
Remember D.A.D is a simple but highly effective technique I’ve created to help you take control and deal with all your thoughts (anxious or not).
When you appreciate that it’s you creating all your thoughts, you can take more control of them. When you take control, you’ll deal with your anxiety and stress instantly.
Because we have about 60,000 thoughts a day, you can’t control all of them – that’s impossible. But you can manage them better, and remembering D.A.D will help.
Here’s how to use the D.A.D technique.
When you have the next worrying or anxious thought stop everything that you are doing.
Sit down (if you're not sitting already), and question that worrying thought immediately.
Don't allow it to spiral out of control, and don't dwell on it.
Don't try to understand it and think deeply about what it means.
Don’t allow the usual ‘what if’ type thoughts to spiral out of control.
Simply comprehend that you’ve had the thought and take control by picking one of the three D.A.D options to manage it.
Stats tell us that most of the thoughts we have are useless, which means you should be ditching most of them. If you decide that the thought is no good for you, and its only purpose is to cause you more worry and anxiety, decide to ditch it. Let it go. Give it a gentle nudge and tell it to move on. You have the power to do that - because you're in control.
If you decide that your thought requires immediate action, don't leave the spot until you take action. Anxiety and stress are caused by feeling out of control, and taking instant action puts you in control. That action doesn't need to fix whatever it is that induced the thought - it can be something small - like making a call, sending an email or having a chat with someone. By taking action, even if it's just a small step, you're putting yourself back in control.
If it is something that can wait, write it down and go back to it. I find the easiest way to do this is using Evernote (a free app that keeps you organised). Get the thought out of your head and put it onto paper (or text) and on to your to-do list. This will release the thought and stop it from bouncing around in your head. If you have an online calendar, like Google Calendar, you can set an alarm so you can go back to it. That way you're not ignoring it or pretending that it doesn't exist (like the bill you don't want to pay). Instead, you're dealing with it at a time that is better for you.
When you manage all your thoughts (worrying or otherwise) using these three options, you'll find you manage your anxiety and stress much more effectively.
Make remembering D.A.D a habit, and with time and practice, it will stick.
This will be one of the most challenging blogs you’ll ever read when it comes to what to do about anxiety – but also the most honest and most effective.
I’ve been through fifteen years of high anxiety, and there aren’t many symptoms or experiences that you’ve been through that I haven’t experienced myself.
For all this time, I searched high and low for answers, including quick fixes, cures and magical answers. No matter how hard or how long I searched, they never came. It was only when I stopped looking for these things (when I realised they didn’t exist) that I was able to make the long-term changes that made a big difference to my life.
If you’re still looking for the quick fix, cure, or magical answer for anxiety, I completely get it. When anxiety starts to bite, what do we do - apart from panic and go into meltdown?
- Search Dr Google
- Look for help or reassurance
- Panic some more
And what do these things usually result in?
THE NEED FOR A QUICK FIX.
The desperate need to get out of mental pain means that we just want the quick fix – anything that will give us a quick way out of the pain caused by high anxiety.
If at the peak of my high anxiety you told me putting my head in a vice for two weeks would have ‘cured’ my anxiety, I probably would have given it a go!
This is great news for everybody offering a quick fix or cure for anxiety, but not so good when it comes to you finding a real solution – something that will help you create long-term sustainable positive changes.
There is only one way to deal with high anxiety.
Find the answers (that you already know) and take action on the changes that will put you in a new direction.
It’s OK to need a helping hand to rediscover what the answers are. We all need a helping hand every now and again. It’s the reason I dedicated my life to being an anxiety coach. As an anxiety coach, it’s my job to help you rediscover the answers and give you the tools you need to set your journey in a new direction.
But here’s the other crucial part to this. As well as forgetting about the idea of a quick fix (that doesn’t exist), on your new journey, you have to expect good and challenging days.
There is no switch to turn off anxiety. There is no quick fix. There is no cure or permanent elimination for something that is a perfectly natural part of who you are. That means anxiety will be with you on your journey wherever you go – and that means at times anxiety will challenge you.
You can bury your head in the sand and pretend that a cure or quick fix exists and continue looking for it, or you can start the new journey today by taking responsibility for your future and taking action on the changes you want to happen.
The answer to high anxiety isn’t a cure or elimination – it’s managing it right and regaining control. It’s getting the BALANCE right.
You have to use time in the same way anxiety grew over time. Without giving your changes time, you can’t make lasting change. Very much in the same way you can’t learn a new language in a week.
Stop going to the doctors, seeing a counsellor, picking up books, watching videos, taking courses, listening to podcasts or trying a hundred and one other different things in the hope of a quick fix, cure, or magic answer. Do all these things, but use them as the stepping-stone you need to move forward on your journey to revival. Allow them to help you gain answers, knowledge and understanding, but don’t frustrate yourself by thinking that they will offer the quick solution you’re desperate to find.
Deep down you know there is no quick fix. There will always be part of you hoping there is one – like I said – I completely get it. It’s natural for us to want to find the quickest and easiest route out of pain. But long-term sustainable change comes with time and practice. And that’s also OK – because you can start your new journey today. With your new mindset, you can make better choices, and make every day stronger than the last.
No matter how anxiety might be affecting you today, we all have an opportunity to improve our lives. Everyone can get a better quality of life.
When you’re ready, and you know that dealing with high anxiety is going to take action and a bit of work, every day will get better. You will approach anxiety differently. Instead of thinking you need the quick fix, you’ll tell yourself that anxiety is normal, and you’ll start to manage it better.
Every day your confidence will grow, and you’ll drop those useless ideas of quick fixes, cures, and magic answers. You’ll begin to enjoy the journey as much as the destination and accept the good and challenging times as part of that journey.
That’s when you know you’re on the right track.
There is no cure for anxiety. We all have anxiety; it’s just that some of us deal with higher than NORMAL levels of anxiety on a regular enough basis that it causes a problem.
When you allow your mind to get caught up in the ‘what if’ thoughts, the fear spirals out of control, and the anxiety grows. The only way out of this cycle of fear and anxiety is to throw a big spanner into it – to stop it from turning.
When the cogs stop turning, you’ll get yourself back to a place where you can begin to think rationally again. The anxiety (and fear) will subside, and you’ll go back to living with NORMAL levels of anxiety.
The next time your thoughts begin to spiral out of control, and you feel anxiety starting to bite, take these actions to deal with your anxiety instantly.
Controlling Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety symptoms are vast and are different for us all. But there will be one or two that are consistent for you. These anxiety-related symptoms will be the root cause of why your anxiety spins out of control. When you begin to control and recognise what these anxiety-related symptoms are, you’ll start to feel more in control – and that is the immediate aim. Anxiety grows when you feel out of control. The more control we can get, the less anxiety will affect you.
FIRST ACTION: Accept the anxiety-related symptoms and feelings
Stop fighting the anxiety-related symptoms. It’s a battle you’ll never win. Instead, accept the feelings. As you feel them, tell yourself: ‘I know this is anxiety, and it’s OK. These symptoms have never harmed me, and they won’t harm me now. This is just my body reacting to a thought I’ve had. It will pass.’ Allow the feelings to pass through your body, and when you don’t fight them, you’ll notice they move on much quicker. By fighting, you’re holding onto the symptoms. By allowing them to pass, you’re letting them go.
SECOND ACTION: Don’t stay still and do something different
When you sit in the same spot, your focus is on being anxious. You’re going to get more of whatever it is you focus on. You need to direct your focus to something that will help your anxiety pass. That’s why going for a walk, or doing some other form of physical activity, is a good idea. You might not feel like doing it, and your mind might be telling you to sit still and be a victim to the symptoms, but doing something you don’t feel like doing is exactly what you have to do - if you want to feel different. When you feel anxiety starting to bite, don’t sit still. Immediately get up, and go do something you wouldn’t normally do. Break the pattern and do something different.
THIRD ACTION: Repeat actions one and two, and be consistent
The way you’re dealing with anxiety right now is based on habit. When anxiety bites, you’ll naturally want to go into the same pattern of behaviour you always have. But if this reaction to anxiety hasn’t been working, you have to do something different to get a different result. Otherwise, nothing will change. Anxiety will continue to have the grip on you it always has. Start acting differently, and form a new habit. With time, practice, and continual repetition of actions one and two, you will form new behaviours that will work for you. You will become a different person – a person who handles anxiety when it bites and doesn’t fall victim to it.
At that moment, when panic attacks, you have a number of choices.
Choice #1: Fuel the fear and run
Drop everything. Throw the shopping basket on the floor, and run for your life. Keep moving forward - run, walk, jog – do anything, as long as people can’t see the sweat on your forehead and the panic on your face as you have a panic attack. That would cause you great embarrassment, and what people think matters. React to the panic with more panic. Stoke the fire with fuel (the fuel being fear). Like a steam train, watch as your panic keeps chugging away and continues to get worse as you continue to stoke the fire.
Choice #2: Question your sanity
Are these symptoms real? Are they life-threatening? Is it just indigestion? Is it a migraine? Should I call for an ambulance? I might look stupid. Allow all the ‘what if. . .?’ thoughts to continue to fuel the panic, and produce more thoughts about things that will never happen.
Choice #3: Search Dr Google
Get our your phone or laptop and begin typing in your symptoms on Google. Fuel the panic further as you read through the life-threatening results, believing every word of them. Spend the rest of your life in and out of doctor’s surgeries, getting more frustrated and disillusioned with every visit. Make lots of trips to the hospital, seeing specialists and having tests, looking for a diagnosis that deep down you know is anxiety.
Choice #4: Fight the panic
Fight the symptoms. Have a battle with something you can never win – something that is implanted in you to keep you safe. Fight with everything you have and use up all your energy – vital energy needed to overcome the panic. Continue to beat yourself and become more and more disillusioned as you convince yourself your life will never change.
Choice #5: Accept the symptoms, stand firm, and don’t stoke the fire
Accept the symptoms. Say to yourself: ‘I recognise that I’m having a panic attack, but I also accept that these symptoms won’t last. They never have. And they’ve never done me any harm.’ Don’t worry about what other people are doing or thinking – that is not your worry or concern. Stand firm, and recognise that, like a bully, panic feeds off fear. Internally shout: ‘DO YOUR WORST!’, and feel the symptoms subside. Know that all the ‘what if. . .?’ thoughts serve you no purpose other than to cause you more panic. Be confident to know that when you don’t stoke the fire, panic has nothing to feed off. Smile, and thank anxiety for keeping you safe. Reassure it, and tell it, on this occasion it wasn’t needed. It was simply a false alarm. Keep doing the things and visiting the places that cause you to panic, and keep telling your brain that these things and places are OK. Watch as your anxiety and panic trigger eases each time you do it.
Which choice will you make? I like #5.
Would you let a plumber fix your boiler if they had no qualifications or experience? Not gonna happen!
If you’re not going to let somebody play around with your boiler, how do feel about your state of mind and well-being?
I recommend counselling to anybody going through a difficult period. Communicating what’s on your mind is a BIG contributor to you moving forward and getting better. It always will be. Bottling things inside and pretending things are OK only lead onto more issues, like breakdowns.
You’ve got to be able to talk, and that’s where a good counsellor comes into play.
A good counsellor will not only listen to you but also have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through your tough time.
Notice I say ‘a good counsellor’.
Like with all professions, there is good, bad, excellent, and downright shouldn’t be in that professional at all!
Like a plumber and most other professions you can think of, a counsellor could set up their own practice overnight – without any experience or qualifications. The fact that somebody calls himself a counsellor doesn’t make it so.
We can all call ourselves whatever we like – it doesn’t make it the case.
If you’re going to let a plumber loose on your boiler, you’ll want reassurance he knows what he’s doing. (A big reason why the best tradesmen come through recommendation.) If you’re going to let somebody loose on your state of mind and well-being, you should also look for reassurance that they know what they’re doing.
It’s up to you to find out what experience and qualifications a counsellor has. Don’t take it at face value.
When I was dealing with high anxiety, I met with at least four different counsellors. Some were good, and some were not so good.
In hindsight, I should have moved on from the bad ones sooner. But I didn’t. Why? I thought I was the problem. I thought, surely somebody with all that experience and all those qualifications can’t be that bad – it has to be me.
I have lots of respect for good counsellors, so I want to clarify what I mean by a ‘bad’ counsellor. Having now had the pleasure of meeting some great counsellors, I can compare them to the not so good ones.
Here are a few defining signs of a bad counsellor, including things to look out for.
Guilt trips. Lack of confidence. Wanting to please others.
Just a few of the reasons why we end up saying YES to doing favours, working overtime and doing things we don’t want to do – even when we know we should say NO.
You’re a nice person. Nothing wrong with that. But if you find yourself saying yes to everything you’re asked, it won’t be long before the misery kicks in.
You’ll be burnt out, depressed, skint and desperate before you know it!
Here are five things to start saying NO to more often. When you say NO to these things more often, you’ll find you’ll take back control and your life will be much more bearable.
1. Other people’s BS
People will bring you great joy. But if you let them, they’ll bring you a lot of shit too! It’s time to start saying no to their BS. If they want to bring their toxic behaviour and drama into your life, say ‘NO’. Cut it out without hesitation. Let them know that you will no longer suffer fools lightly. They’ll soon get the message, and your life will be much better off for it. The next time the gossip comes up, or somebody is chewing your ear off with negativity, cut it out.
2. Constant favours
As I mentioned - being a nice person is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do nice things. But it does put you at risk of being taken advantage of. If somebody calls you at 1 am in the morning asking you to give them a lift home from partying all night, it won’t be long before they’re calling you at 4 am. Everybody has to have boundaries, including you. The next time the call comes in, say ‘NO’. The same goes for any favours that go beyond being reasonable including giving away your two most valuable assets: your time and money.
3. Being in places you don’t want to be
Life is way too short to put up with doing things you don’t want to do, including going places you don’t want to go. I’m not talking about being ignorant or selfish. Sometimes we’ve got to do things we’re not happy with – it’s all part of having good relationships. But if you find yourself constantly being in places you don’t want to be, hanging around with people you don’t like, say ‘NO’.
4. Going to a dead-end job
If you work full-time, you’ll be spending most of your life at that job. If you absolutely hate your job with a passion, it basically means you hate your life. When it comes to work, including toxic bosses and dead-end jobs, there is always a better option. Say ‘NO’, and explore what your options are further. If you’re feeling stuck, The Less-Stress Lifestyle will help.
5. Living in the past
Living in the past is causing you serious, unnecessary stress and anxiety. I know this because when we live in the past, it’s usually because of negative reasons. If your childhood was messed up, you made a mistake, or you regret something you did, it’s time to let go of the past and say ‘NO’ to it. Move forward with the lessons you learnt, and don’t allow the past to haunt you. The trick here is to learn from the past because if you don’t, you’ll keep making the same mistakes you always have.
There’s nothing like sitting down and watching a decent film.
I like to take something away from every film I watch. I believe there is a message, hidden or otherwise, in all decent films.
If you haven’t switched the film off in the first few minutes because it’s rubbish, you’ll get something out of it. A lot of what you get depends on your mood, how you feel at the time, and what you’re looking for.
Here’s what I learnt from my top five films (in order of my favourite first).
#1 – The Matrix
What is there not to love about The Matrix? Putting aside all the Kung Fu and bullet dodging (which, don’t get me wrong, is brilliant), there is a serious message going on. For me, that message is quite simply: Wake the f*ck up! You are part of a system. If you allow that system to control you, it will. If you don’t take control of your life, you will drift. You will just survive, rather than thrive. To make changes in your life, you have to get educated and become aware. If you want improvements in your lifestyle, begin by getting educated. You can have more if you want it, but first, you have to wake up.
#2 – Terminator 2
I’ll also include the first Terminator film here. (Terminator 3 – not your best one, Arnie.) With the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence), who knows – the machines may well take over one day. But that’s not the defining message I got from the film. The message I got is about dealing with toxic people. This is what Kyle Reese says when he’s warning Sarah Connor about the Terminator: ‘Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop.’ Some toxic people in life are the same, and you should avoid them just as much as you would the Terminator.
#3 – The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio does an amazing job of playing a hedonistic drug addict. His outstanding performance is equalled by how good the film is. Anyhow – I’m not writing a film review – so back to the message. The Wolf of Wall Street perfectly sums up the fact that money will only ever get you so far. It’s a short-term view to think you can do what the hell you like for a few years and not have any consequences. At the risk of sounding like a complete killjoy, most things in life are OK in moderation, but what you’re doing today is shaping your future. As well as thinking about what you’re going to do today, start planning for the next five years. Otherwise, the future might not be so bright.
#4 – Catch Me If You Can
Another Leonardo DiCaprio film on my list – and what a cracker it is. Frank Abagnale (the con man Leonardo plays) fooled everybody – to the point of becoming a fake co-pilot, lawyer and doctor – all before his 18th birthday! (This is a true story!) The message? For me, a positive one. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Do you think Frank cared about the fact he might get rejected? Do you think he allowed the fear of people to hold him back? Not in the slightest. Although a lot of what he did was immoral, there’s a lot to be learnt and admired from what he did. The level of freedom you can get from not caring about what people think is immense. It helps you achieve pretty much anything you want, as demonstrated perfectly by Frank Abagnale.
#5 – Drop Dead Fred
I grew up as a Rik Mayall (Bottom) addict. He made me cackle just as much in Drop Dead Fred when he played an imaginary childhood friend to a miserable kid. Part of her misery was her control freak, OCD led mother, who was affectionately known as ‘The Megabeast’. So the first lesson – if you’re a parent putting too much pressure on your kids, you might also have an interesting nickname. The second lesson from the film is not to let the kid in you die. Life is serious enough. Don’t ever forget your humour. It shouldn’t take an imaginary friend you had as a kid to come back into your adult life to remind you. You can start having more fun today. It is a choice, and you don’t have to wait. What would the kid inside you do? Sometimes it’s worth paying attention to him or her – especially when anxiety and stress is biting.
From time to time, low mood hits all of us - some of us more often than others.
There are different levels of low mood, from having a bad day (which happens to us all) to the very extremes of contemplating suicide.
However you’re feeling right now, I want you to know that you always have options. There isn’t a situation or scenario that can’t be changed.
If you are even close to thinking about giving up, or you feel as though your low mood will never lift, I want you to consider these four important points.
Chester Bennington and Robin Williams appeared to have it all. Fame, fortune, family – everything that we perceive you could desire. But it wasn’t enough. They ended their lives by committing suicide. All the material possessions and money in the world doesn’t mean anything unless you’re filling the gap within you. And that gap is everything to do with your purpose. When you’re being true to yourself, you’ll discover what it is that drives you – that is your purpose. When you have purpose, you have everything to live for. Having purpose will lift your low mood much quicker, and feeling down won’t affect you as often. If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to find your purpose, a good start is to help others.
In some cases, when you feel as though your low mood has been around for ages, it’s easy to believe that it’s never going to go away. You feel as though your life will never get better, and you end up settling for the fact that things will never improve. But the fact is, low mood is temporary, however long it is. Just like problems – all problems are temporary. Remember that tomorrow is a new day – a new opportunity to do and be something different. You’ve already got through 100% of your problems. That means you’ve already proven your strength. Use this strength to remind yourself that how you feel right now isn’t fixed, and it can change if you want it to.
It’s time to beat away those grey clouds, and one of the quickest ways you can do it is by getting your focus right. When we’re feeling low, we focus on everything that is bad. When you consider that you’re going to get more of whatever it is you focus on, you appreciate that this is the reason you end up going around in a cycle of misfortune and bad luck. Ditch the ‘what ifs . . .’, and focus on the things you can control – the things that are going to push your life forward, and not hold you back with false beliefs. Focus on the things that count, like your goals and hobbies.
The cherry on top of all of these points is action. The one thing that took me out of feeling like shit is action. Plain and simple. If it weren’t for me taking action, I’d still be lying in bed anxious, worried and stressed about all the ‘what ifs . . .’. Taking action was the one thing that got me out of the mire. It started with me making a choice: either stay as I am or take action and do something about it. Taking action doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. It can be something small. The main thing is that you just take action, because like a snowball effect, it will lead to more action. Before you know it, your low mood (depression) no longer affects you the way it did previously. You’ll still have bad days (there is no getting over that – everybody does), but they will be fewer and far between.
Listen to my podcast on Getting Over Feeling Low.
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