You’ve already been told the usual advice when it comes to dealing with anxiety – to the point you’ve become bored of hearing about
Sorting your diet out
Admittedly, as your Anxiety Coach, I’ll have you doing some of these things, and they’re given as regular advice for a sound reason. But to shake things up a little, I also want to give you some different, radical ideas to help you reduce your anxiety – things you might not have thought about doing previously.
I noticed a while ago that if I wanted something different, I had to do something different.
Some of these ideas might sound a little radical, and could even raise an eyebrow, but that’s exactly the point.
The more different and radical the idea, the quicker the change and reduction in anxiety could happen.
Suggestion 1: Quit TV for a week
How radical is that? The idea of no TV for a week! To most of us, this sounds as crazy as it gets. This is exactly why I want you to consider doing it. If you want something new, you have to try something different, and cutting off the TV supply is something very different for most of us. Before you tell me this is impossible, I’m not asking you to do anything I haven’t done myself. I cut TV out for a week, and I haven’t looked back since. I went from a TV addict to someone who will watch a bit of Netflix every now and again. Why did it work? Think about how much anxiety TV might be causing you. Adverts constantly telling us how to look and act. The news repetitively telling us what a f’ed up world we live in. Reality TV making us feel inferior. By the time you’ve flicked through those hundred pointless channels, it’s time to go to bed and start the same pattern over and over again. Quit TV for a bit, and you might find it gives you the time to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
Suggestion 2: Stop watching the news
As I just mentioned, the news has a great knack of repeatedly reminding us of how f’ed up the world is. Do we need a constant reminder? I’m not saying bury your head in the sand, but if you keep feeding your mind with negativity, it will fuel your anxiety. The news is widely accessible, and with your phone, it’s constantly in your pocket. Come away from looking at it, and see how you feel. If you need to know something, you’ll know it.
Suggestion 3: Stop giving your anxiety excuses
Giving something a reason to exist, including high anxiety, will give it life. Excuses will provide all the fuel your high anxiety will ever need to not only survive but also thrive. It’s the weather. It’s my job. It’s my boss. Anxiety runs in my family. It’s my partner. It’s my kids! The list can go on as much as you want. If you want to reduce your high anxiety, the excuses need to stop. It’s time to take 100% responsibility. Anxiety won’t like it – it doesn’t like it when you take responsibility. That might mean more anxiety. But until you step forward and take responsibility, nothing will change. Stop the excuses, and you’ll stop stoking the fire.
Suggestion 4: Come away from support groups
I don’t offer a support group for good reason. I’ve not had positive experiences with them, and the same goes for a lot of the people I speak to daily. Support groups are there for good intention, but they can easily create bad feeling and more anxiety – sometimes unintentionally. We all need support, but we need it in a way that provides us with the positivity and focus we need to move forward – the reason why my programme has a unique buddying system that does exactly that.
Suggestion 5: Cut down your social media use
Notice I say ‘cut down’ here, rather than stop. For 99.9% of us, not using social media is like not eating. If I asked you to stop using social media, I know it would be like asking you to lose a limb. So let’s be realistic. In lots of recent surveys and studies, the use of social media has been shown to increase anxiety. It’s little wonder when all you see is the highlights. When you’re sitting there chained to your desk at work, and you’re looking at pictures of your friends partying, it has a habit of rapidly producing resent, anger, and jealousy – and in turn, lots of anxiety. Top this off with no likes or comments on your posts, and you’ve got yourself a proper pity party. Put the phone down. Shut the laptop. Pick up a book. Go for a walk. Have a real conversation. Do these things without worrying about sharing everything you do to get approval from others. The feeling of freedom you get might be the anxiety-buster you’re looking for.
These five ideas may be radically different to what you’ve considered previously. But like I said, if you want some big changes, including big reductions in your anxiety, you’ve got to do something you haven’t done before.
Why not give them a go? What have you got to lose?
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.
How easy is it, when somebody gets your back up, to immediately get angry and feel hateful towards her/him?
It’s an immediate natural reaction, so it’s really easy, right?
But what has harbouring anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, anxiety, stress (and any other negative emotions you can think of) ever done for you?
Nothing, except make you feel like crap.
When you allow somebody else to make you feel like crap, you’re only extending your mental pain and suffering by continuing to harbour the anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, anxiety and stress.
It’s time to let go of it – for your sake – not theirs.
If somebody does you wrong, I’m not necessarily saying you should forgive and forget. What I am saying is, for the sake of your own feelings and well-being, you should let go and move on. In other words, you should forgive but don’t forget.
If you don’t let go and move on, you’re only harbouring all those negative feelings that will continue to make you feel like crap. That means that you’re allowing whoever it is that has caused you pain to continue that pain.
You’ll be the one causing all your mental pain and suffering.
It might feel as though you have no control over these emotions at times, but anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, anxiety and stress are always a choice. I know this because these emotions always begin with a thought, and that thought is then manifested as a feeling.
You have control over what thoughts you choose to act on, and that means that you do have a choice whether or not you allow these emotions to dominate you.
How does that make you feel to know that you have a choice to feel these negative emotions, just as much as you have a choice to feel the good stuff like happiness, joy, love and contentment?
When I discovered this fact, it made me stop and think – and I’m hoping it’s doing the same for you.
By learning to let go and move on, I stopped harbouring all those negative emotions that were no good for me, which made me less frustrated, angry, anxious and stressed.
I still experience all these things – I just don’t allow them to dictate how I feel, including whether or not I’m going to have a good or bad day.
If somebody pisses me off, for example, I won’t allow the mental pain and suffering caused from that to define who I am.
People will act as they act. You have no control over that. You only have control over you – including how you choose to react and how you feel.
Dependent on the level of the suffering and pain you’ve experienced, some of you will find this harder to take on board than others – I appreciate that.
I’m not diluting the fact that anger, hate, resent, jealousy, anxiety and stress aren’t incredibly difficult to overcome. I know first-hand how difficult it is. But it still doesn’t take away from the crucial fact that these things are a choice.
When it comes to anger, hate, resent, jealousy, anxiety and stress, we prefer to look at these things as though we have no choice – like they are put on us. The biggest issue with this is we become a victim to them.
When you’re a victim of circumstance, you tell yourself that there is nothing you can do – so you continue to allow these negative emotions to dominate you. That will keep you trapped in a negative cycle, and you’ll always be a victim.
The next time you feel any of these emotions, remember that you have a choice.
To help you remember, I’ve listed the solutions as 3 A’s. These are the three things that will end your mental pain and suffering.
The first A to end your mental pain and suffering is acceptance. You could also call this A ‘Appreciation’. Like Carl Jung said: ‘What you resist persists.’ You’ll only feel the full force of something when you fight it. When you accept and appreciate something, including its reasoning and why it’s happening, it can no longer cause you further mental pain and suffering. Stop fighting whatever it is you’re fighting, and learn to let go. This doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Letting go could mean walking away. Remember: forgive but don’t forget.
The second A to end your mental pain and suffering is attitude. An extended version of this is ‘attitude of gratitude’. It’s impossible for any negative emotion to overcome you when you are in a state of gratitude. For example, you can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time. Dock leaves grow next to stinging nettles because nature always wants to provide us with a solution. Gratitude is nature’s solution to all that is negative. Practice gratitude daily.
The third A to end your mental pain and suffering is affection. It’s probably the hardest ‘A’ of them all, but it’s also the most powerful. How can you show love or affection to somebody who might have physically or mentally abused you? How do you make friends with an emotion like anxiety and stress - emotions that might have destroyed your life for decades? How do you say ‘hello’ to somebody who has done you wrong? These are not easy questions to answer, but getting even close to the answer offers you a lot more mental freedom. Imagine the freedom behind being able to let go, move on and forgive what you hate. It’s an ‘A’ I’m still working on, so I’m pleased to be able to join you on this journey myself!
You’ve got a job, but you want more.
More cash. More time. More freedom.
You’re fed up and don’t see the job you have as long-term - but you’re not sure what else to do.
Earning some extra income outside of your job will give you more opportunities – it could even lead to something a little more permanent – like running your own business.
Gaining an extra side income outside of your job (passive income) is the perfect solution for the extra freedom, time and money you’re looking for.
Here are fifteen ideas to get you inspired and started.
#1: Intellectual property (books/ideas)
To write a successful book, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel or come up with a unique idea. Some best-selling books are based on other people’s stories – stories that inspire and are worth writing about. You don’t need a personal story – you just need enough passion and enthusiasm to want to write about something that interests you (and will interest others). Saleability is, of course, a priority. There is little point writing a book if nobody is interested in reading it. To make your book saleable, it needs to get people’s attention and have a USP (unique selling point) – to distinguish it from all the others available.
If you write about a specific subject, a lot of the book could be made up of interviews with experts in that field. When you contact them, you might find that most experts will be more than happy to help a budding writer. The desire to help others is within all of us, so take advantage of it. They might ask to be paid – or you might be lucky and ask somebody who is happy just getting the exposure. You’ll never know until you ask! If they do want something in return, give them an incentive. If you don’t have any money, negotiate a deal with them where you’ll give them a cut of sales. If you’re going to succeed, you have to get creative. Combine your creativity with the will to succeed, and things will happen for you.
Unless you’re a best-selling author (I’m talking like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling), selling books alone won’t be enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle – you need to know that before you grab your laptop and start tapping away. Have you ever met an author driving around in a Ferrari? No, me neither. The mental picture you have of a writer being a scruffy-looking recluse in their dressing gown is generally accurate – apart from me, of course!
Because writing a book is such a competitive space, it’s treated as such. It’s very much viewed as a privilege to get a publishing deal, which is why royalties are low. Books are a good way to get noticed and reach a wide audience (meaning they can form a strong part of your overall strategy), but they won’t support your less-stress lifestyle alone. Once you have your audience, you can add value to the time invested in writing by doing things like workshops and coaching. However, writing a book alone doesn’t guarantee attention. Unless you’re an established big name it’s very difficult for authors to get noticed, even if a world-leading publisher signs you up.
Based on the odds, writing books is a high-risk strategy. In 2013 China published 440,000 books, the USA 305,000, and the UK 184,000. That’s a lot! It seems as though it’s most people’s ambition to write a book, making it a very competitive market. And getting published is just the start. A common misconception about publishers is that they sell your books for you – they don’t! Yes, the bigger ones have sales, marketing and PR teams, but ultimately it’s up to you to sell your books.
I write because I enjoy it, and I get huge satisfaction from helping people through my writing. I’m also not afraid to take a gamble if I believe in something. I’d recommend you write (if you’re going to) for the same reasons: enjoyment and wanting to help – not for money.
I appreciate I’ve been quite negative here, but I’m being realistic about the odds. You can, of course, make your fortune by coming up with the next Harry Potter series, but the fact remains that there are lots of authors out there. Plus, writing is hard! (Well, it is for me!) Writing a decent book is very time-consuming and isn’t an easy job (which is probably why there are so many rubbish ones available). The number of times I go through each paragraph to make sure it’s right (I’m a perfectionist) is excruciating at times. But I remind myself of how many people I can help, and I carry on. It’s my passion for writing that makes all the difference for me, and it will make the difference for you, too.
If you do have a passion for writing and want to try to beat the odds, there are generally two options when deciding to write a book: (1) self-publish, and (2) write with the aim of finding an agent and getting published. More and more authors are going down the self-publishing route because it’s never been easier. Remember, a book is just a product like any other – if you believe you can sell it, you’re in business. You can be your own publisher as long as you have what it takes to sell your book.
Because the self-publishing route takes a lot of effort and time, my advice is to focus on getting published first, and if it doesn’t happen within a timescale suited to you, go down the self-publishing route. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s incredibly competitive, and most books don’t get a deal with a publisher. Even some of the best authors of all time were rejected time and time again!
Like anything else, if you have a passion for writing and an absolute belief that you can make it happen, it will.
Similar to books, you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to products. You can either invent a product to license out, or license an existing product to sell (both options qualify as passive income).
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.
Tired. Exhausted. Beat-up. Shattered. Worn-out. Knackered!
Just a few of the nicer terms we use when stress is beating us.
Well, it’s time to fight back and get some control!
It’s time to get back into a better mental place – to give us the very best chance of managing our stress properly.
Here are seven popular relaxation techniques you can use to beat stress and stop it controlling you.
When you practise deep breathing, you breathe in slowly and deeply, while expanding your belly, allowing your diaphragm to contract. Breathing in this way sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax, which makes it effective for dealing with stress. It is a simple and versatile technique that can be learned and used immediately.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a very effective technique for releasing tension in your muscles: you tense a muscle for a few seconds and then relax it. For example, try clenching your fist for a few seconds and then letting go, releasing the tension so your hand is as loose as possible. Your hand should feel relaxed after doing this a few times. You can use this technique on any muscle in your body, so if you have a particularly tense area, you can concentrate on that. The typical areas that affected many people include the neck, chest, face and shoulders. If you do this daily, you will condition your muscles to relax much more freely and naturally.
You need an outlet for your tension so it’s not trapped inside you and used to create more stress and negative energy. Physical activity is an effective way to release tension, due to the fact you burn energy and feel like you’ve accomplished something. Yoga and tai chi are known to improve breathing and relaxation and are therefore good for stress and tension. If you’re more of a football or boxing fan, join your local club. The aim is to find a physical activity you enjoy.
You can channel the release of tension through healthy mental exertion. I can, however, think of a few board games that increase tension rather than reduce it, so if it becomes counterproductive, avoid it! Sitting down to do a crossword is relaxing for some people, and stressful for others. Use your common sense: if it’s not helping you reduce your stress, try something else.
Although I don’t practise meditation, I make sure I find a moment to relax every day, especially if I’m busy and find myself dealing with extra stress. People have told me meditation has helped reduce their stress and anxiety, improved their mood, and been good for their insomnia – so it could do the same for you. Meditation takes time to perfect, but if it’s something you would like to explore, you’ll find apps and videos on YouTube that will help get you started.
Have a clear-out
It feels very therapeutic to have a good clear-out. The more possessions we have, the more emotional attachment we have to them. This emotional attachment isn’t always negative, and you’ll probably have possessions that bring you great joy and comfort, like your favourite jumper or chair. At the end of your clear-out, I don’t expect you to have an empty home! However, there will be some items you just don’t need (or want) any more. A good clear-out can make you feel lighter and clearer. I do it regularly. When I looked at my wardrobe I noticed I tended to wear the same selection of clothing all the time, so I packed up all the clothes I hadn’t worn for a year and sent them to a charity shop. eBay is marvellous for raising some extra funds from unwanted stuff. You might be surprised by how much you can raise. Maybe you could put the money you raise towards a trip, or course?
A change of scenery
If you’re constantly looking at the same four walls, talking to the same people, or doing the same monotonous tasks or job, you’re not presenting your brain with the variety and challenge it needs and deserves. Predictability is boring, and boredom leads to unwanted feelings, including feeling trapped, leading to stress and tension. So spice up your life a little. Take a relaxing break, change your scenery, and do something out of the ordinary.
These techniques are listed in The Less-Stress Lifestyle. Start improving your lifestyle and managing stress better today - check it out!
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.
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