Oh to feel chilled and not anxious, exhausted and overwhelmed. When the nights draw in and we turn our attention to the festive season feelings are mixed. We all wish for a relaxing end of the year when family and friends gather together and there is goodwill for all. The reality can be somewhat different.
The end of the year marks a significant point in our lives. It’s a reflective moment when we look back on the previous year and look forward to the year ahead. Many of us do a mental audit of what we have and haven’t achieved whether it is our personal goals or the state of our relationships. Is next year going to be the same or different?
Anxiety can be thought of as a fear of the future whilst depression is the emotional weight of the past. The beginning of a new year is a punctuation mark in our lives and is the perfect moment to make the conscious decision to take charge of our lives. When we decide to make our emotional needs and our relationship goals a priority something wondrous happens. We are able to regain mastery of our lives. Our past stops hounding us and our future becomes something that we are able to create.
So what can we do practically in order to make a head start in knocking anxiety on the head?
When life seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at us. The dog is ill, the laundry undone, in-laws arriving and your boss seems to have turned into a villain. Time to understand that “this too will pass”. Acknowledging that you are feeling anxious, that it is a normal emotion and that it will pass strangely has a calming effect. This feeling will indeed pass.
As anxiety starts to kick in our body springs into fight of flight which makes us breath fast and shallow our hearts start to pump fast. This sets up a loop that is a vicious cycle. Consciously taking deep tummy breaths triggers our bodies response of calm. Forcing our body to control our breath which in turn reduces our heart rate. It’s a message to our heart and mind that we can relax. We can regain of physiological equilibrium.
Once you have done the first two steps consciously talk to yourself with soothing and comforting words. “You are fine”, “I am starting to feel calm”, “You can do this”. These words of comfort have the same soothing effect if you say them to yourself or if a loved one were to say them. This is honestly the time to become our own best friend.
Pre-empt anxiety by not giving it any fuel. Small amounts of caffeine and alcohol all trigger our nervous system to be on high alert. Literally, feed your body with calm. There is a huge amount of research on our gut health and a link to wellbeing. Take the time to feed your gut with the calm making nutrients.
Inject some feel good into your life with exercise. Exercise gives us that feel good boost and many scientists feel that it may even be more powerful than medication. Take that stroll into work, walk the dog and give the car a miss.
Finally, there honestly isn’t anything quite like a good nights sleep. We all know how restorative a good nights sleep is but strangely we are not sure what causes a bad nights sleep. We know that if we lose a couple of hours sleep it increases our levels of anxiety, however, we also know that if we feel anxious we are unable to sleep. The trick is to know what came first. Giving ourselves enough time to sleep and getting more sleep will increase our ability to manage our stress levels.
Deciding to take back our power in order to create the life we wish to live is a profound moment. We stop being a prisoner to our emotions, hampered by sabotaging thoughts and we start to feel the energising and empowered feeling of living fulfilled. Life will not be without its trials and tribulations but we are able to ride the storm and feel chilled rather than overwhelmed. We are able to create the life, love and relationships that empower and uplift.
Are you ready to create the life you want to live? Perhaps you have decided that you have tired of the self-doubt or the mediocre relationships that are somewhat lacklustre. Maybe this is your moment to start being the master of your future.
by Pam Custers SW19 MA Pg/Dip (RELATE) Accredited MBACP, listed counsellor/therapist