2020 may as well be renamed “The Anxious Year”. It seems that everywhere you turn, everyone is talking about anxiety and the toll it’s taking. What gives? Where does anxiety come from? Why are so many experiencing anxious symptoms and what can we do to combat anxiety? That’s what I’m diving into today.
This has been a tough year for many. Between COVID-19, school shutdowns, children learning virtually, homeschooling, the presidential election, social isolation, job/career instability, health concerns, deaths, the list is literally endless – many of us are feeling anxious. So does this mean that we all have anxiety? The short answer is no, the long one is determined individually by a healthcare practitioner.
Anxiety is often the feelings and physical reactions we experience from a loss of control
Worried about the future? Anxiety. Worried about a loved one or health concerns? Anxiety. Not sure if your company will close or stay afloat? Anxiety. Anxious thoughts and feelings result from negative thought patterns. These thoughts cause a physical reaction in our bodies. Maybe we get sweaty palms or a racing heart or a knot in our stomach. These physical symptoms alert the mind that something is wrong and the mind believes it’s in real danger and the loop starts…mind, body, mind, body, all reinforcing the anxiety.
This loop is helpful if you’re in actual physical danger. Your mind is alerted to danger, it alerts the body, the body responds and your mind and body work together to get you out of the dangerous situation. When that happens, it’s incredibly helpful. When this loop starts and you’re not in actual danger or this thing you’re worrying about is outside of your control (2020, COVID-19, your job, the economy) this is where anxiety comes from in many of us. So what can you do about this loop if you’re experiencing this?
Interrupt the loop to combat anxiety
First, we have to identify when the loop has started, and then we have to interrupt the loop. A couple of my favorite tactics are:
- Physical movement: change the state of the body and the mind will often follow
- Meditation: recognize the thoughts that aren’t serving you and stop giving them weight – we are not our thoughts
- Prayer: a conversation with God helps us gain control in an uncontrollable situation
- Music: especially while wearing earbuds, music can instantly shift our mood and feelings
Watch for unhealthy habits
Once we start utilizing tools that help combat anxiety, what else can we do to stop feeding the anxiety? It’s one thing to interrupt the anxiety loop but we’d be worn out if we had to do that all day, so what else can we do to decrease anxious loops? Many of our unhealthy habits are inadvertently feeding our anxiety, here are a few of my biggies to watch for:
- Alcohol – is a depressant, it will bring us down, and often it’s the very substance we turn to for a quick escape from our negative thoughts and emotions but it further perpetuates the cycle we’re living in
- Lack of Exercise: moving your body gives you a form of control over your health – we can’t control everything, but we sure can influence
- Sugar: again, another quick fix when we want to escape
- Excessive Online Shopping: releases endorphins until we get the credit card bill
- Sleeping in/Hitting Snooze/Staying up Too Late: all tactics to avoid what we don’t want to face
- Netflix Marathons & Social Media: comparison is real and when we use entertainment to deflect our feelings and emotions we unknowingly create a whole new problem
Introduce healthy habits to combat anxiety
What are your habits reinforcing your anxiety? We all have them – mine is wine. I love to unwind with a glass (lies) of wine after a long day. It took actively breaking that unhealthy habit to begin feeling the freedom of owning my decisions and choices to live a healthier, happier life. For years I’ve worked on building and eliminating habits to build the richest life we can imagine. Now, I want to help everyone in my community.
This is why I created Vice Grip – A 31-Day Habit Challenge.
In the month of January, we are going to focus on eliminating one habit not serving us and build one habit that does. This may seem like a small feat but here’s the real power in habit formation…OUR LIVES ARE MADE UP OF WHAT WE DO DAILY – OUR HABITS. Have lots of habits that don’t serve you and your goals? That’s going to lead to stress, overwhelm, and anxiety because you’re living out of alignment with your true self and your goals. Have lots of habits that are working for your good? You will feel a tremendous sense of control over your life, regardless of the environment and circumstances. (Sign Up Here!)
We really do have more control than we think. Is it easy to change habits? Not really. Does it really take 21 days? Nope, that’s a myth! Imagine surrounding yourself with other people who have similar goals as you and a desire to regain control over their life, that’s Vice Grip. The beautiful part about changing habits at the beginning of the year is that you can use this as a catalyst to create a whole different year for 2021. Who’s ready for a change? I know I am!