Worry, stress and anxiety are an epidemic in today's society.
Never have the levels of stress and worry been so high or wide ranging.
We have a chronically challenging economic situation, health crisis that are broadcast 24-hours a day 7-days a week, a rapidly changing job environment, more stress on our kids and teens, a global competitive situation that creates massive change, world politics and crisis at seemingly uncontrollable levels…just to name a few.
Chronic worry, stress and anxiety takes a massive toll on our emotional and physical bodies. Everything from eating disorders, digestive issues through arthritis, heart disease and cancers are linked (at least in-part) to stress and worry.
So, it seems that this is the exact RIGHT time to learn and apply some basic strategies to our daily activities to reduce worry and stress.
1. Stop The Snowball – Yoga and Meditation
I grew up thinking meditation was quackery and yoga was just not appealing to me as a man. When the events of 9/11 hit, along with many others I needed a way to escape the worry, stress and anxiety that came along with tense times. That's when I revisited both yoga and meditation and I have to tell the impact on my overall health has been nothing short of amazing. Chronic sore muscles, low immune system and poor digestion (read- heartburn, acid reflux) became a thing of the past and suddenly I was handed the single most effective tool to combat (from within) stress and worry. By separating the days thoughts from a quiet, reflective mind you "objectify" your worries and see them for what they really are – often very exaggerated, overblown images of the worst-case (or even imaginary worst-case) scenarios that serve zero purpose but paralyze you from seeing life as it really is.
For some people this means a daily walk of 20-minutes in nature, for others 20-30 minutes in the gym fits the bill. Still others, they like to connect with others in a group class while others tap into their competitive spirit and go on to run marathons or become competitive in their sport or activity of choice. The bottom line is to find out what you enjoy doing for activity and spend 15-20 minutes a day on it – your worry and stress will be dramatically reduced when you commit to this important activity
3. Sleep – Regular and Enough
So many people I know have chronic worry and yet they stay up all hours of the night actually SEEKING OUT the worst of the news or internet…it's as if they are addicted to bad new and sleep for them is irregular and in short supply. We know that both irregular sleep patterns and not getting enough quality sleep increases the stress hormones in your body, lowers your coping mechanisms, results in poor quality digestive, circulatory and lymphatic system function all of which increase the amount of worry and stress on our lives
4. Focus On What You CAN Control
There is a very close (if not absolutely direct) relationship between lack of control and worry/stress in our lives. It has been proven in human and animal studies again and again that we do crazy things when we feel we lack control – worry and stress levels are certainly linked. Stop fretting about things that you cannot control and instead focus your energy inward where you can bring out your passion, purpose, beliefs and self confidence – all of this you can do which gives you a complete sense of control reducing worry and stress in your life
5. Choose How You Spend Your Time Carefully
Are you someone that watches a lot of CNN, local or International News? What about the people you spend time with at work, home, during your social time – are they supportive and positive or are they negative and demeaning? Who we spend time with has a huge impact on how much worry and stress you have in your life. You now have control of your life in terms of direction, purpose and passion – the final step is to take back control of how you spend your time. Stay away from negativity and embrace positive connections, thoughts such as gratitude and forgiveness. You will be the ultimate beneficiary.