I get nervous about everything, sometimes I literally don’t know why I’m anxious; I just am and no one seems to understand that.
The above quote has appeared so many places on the web that I could not determine its original source; it’s a testament to how many people suffer from an anxiety disorder and how they feel about it.
Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. These feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.
Estimates are that up to 40 million people in the US alone, from all demographics, experience some type of anxiety disorder. I am one of those people from the US and here are some of the things about living with an anxiety disorder that we would like people to understand:
It can be extremely debilitating.
Attacks can be very severe, causing problems ranging from physical illness to a need to get away and hide from everything. It interferes with normal functioning when at its worst.
It has many forms and levels.
General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Phobias can all be grouped under this general heading of Anxiety. There are also varying levels of severity of the disorders that people can experience. For me, my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is at a well-controlled level.
It is more than just worry.
Worry is a normal human emotion that most people experience at times. An anxiety disorder goes beyond this once-in-a-while feeling to a long-term life-interfering problem.Advertising
It can cause physical symptoms.
Extreme attacks can cause shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and other physical problems. For me, it is digestive system problems during bad attacks.
I can not just “get over it” or turn it off at will.
It is not some bad habit I need to break, nor an addiction to be overcome. It is an actual medically diagnosed illness, often involving brain chemistry, that can be managed.
I tend to overthink.
Situations, actions, words – from myself or others – can be over-analyzed to the point of mental paralysis. I have to apply coping skills that short-circuit the anxiety thought loop.
I tend to overprocess outside stimuli.
Anxiety disorders can cause or aggravate problems with sensory input. For me, it is with sounds. I have always been sound-sensitive, but now hearing too much noise or certain noises can lead to serious agitation unless I leave the area or block out the sound.Advertising
I can have attacks from a trigger situation.
There are highs and lows with anxiety. My anxiety is well-controlled through my faith, counseling, and medication, but there are times when a situation, often socially related for me, can still trigger a mild anxiety spike.
I can have attacks for no reason at all.
Because anxiety can be related to brain chemistry among other factors, there are times when all is going well, but I still feel an anxiety spike coming on. This is where medication – Zoloft works for me, but others need different medications for their body chemistry – most often comes into the picture, just as it would for a more classic physical disease.
I may seem antisocial at times due to an anxiety spike.
If I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I may excuse myself suddenly from a social situation. I do not dislike your company, but believe me, a full-blown attack is not a pretty thing.
I need ways to vent, cope, or otherwise deal with the anxiety.
This is where professional counseling really helps, but sometimes I need a friend to listen when I can not get to the counselor right away. Friends who understand and calmly listen are a precious treasure indeed.Advertising
I am afraid of overwhelming those friends.
I do have friends who listen, but I am often concerned that I may overwhelm them with my needs if I am going through a prolonged period of anxiety.
I have developed a deep empathy for those facing hidden problems.
My special education teaching experience taught me empathy for students with not so obvious learning problems. My anxiety disorder has taught me empathy for those facing emotional struggles.
I have learned to appreciate the quietly pleasant times more.
I do not need a party or a huge group of friends to have a good time – in fact, that might cause anxiety. I do appreciate the little pleasures in life more – like my cat purring by me, a day filled with sunshine, the songs of my faith, getting the right words on a page for my writing. Most of all, I appreciate those friends who care and support and listen and understand.
Featured photo credit: Haywire by porschlinn via flickr.comAdvertising
Last Updated on September 10, 2019
7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life
Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.
Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.
This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.
One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.
Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!
Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.
Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.
The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.
Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.
So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.
2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks
This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.
For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.
What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.
Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.
3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing
This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.
Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.
An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.
Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.
4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises
According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things; and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.
There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:
5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon
Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.
Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.
6. Rise Earlier
The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.
For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.
So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.
Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.
7. Listen to Uplifting Music
Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.
Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.
It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.
Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.
More About Energetic Habits & Rituals
- 16 Everyday Habits of Highly Productive People
- Need Morning Motivation? 30 Morning Routines to Help You Start Afresh
- The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive
- How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier
Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com