Stop worrying, start living

Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere. Likely you already see the futility of worrying, or you wouldn’t be here. The good news is you’ve already taken the first self help-style step: admitting that you have a problem. Like any problem, there are solutions out there. Here are three different, yet complementary solutions to help combat your worry and anxiety:

1. Live in the Moment

There is a reason you will never see a furrowed brow on the Dalai Lama, the Buddha and other enlightened bodies—because they live in the moment. “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly,” said Buddha.

Before I scare you off by pushing too much Eastern or new age philosophy on you, there is a basic truth to their teachings to live in the moment. Popular North American spirituality teacher Eckhart Tolle speaks about the power of now, in his obviously-titled book The Power of Now, and offers us an extremely simple anxiety-ridding exercise. I am taking great leaps paraphrasing and condensing his lesson to a simple sentence, but Tolle essentially says — take a look at the exact moment you are in, without considering the past or the future, and understand that every moment is perfect in itself. If there is something bothering you, think about if you can solve it in this exact moment; if you can then solve it while staying in the present; if you can’t solve it then no worries.Since the present moment is currently unfolding there is no need to worry about things that happened in the past or things that might happen in the future. Take life moment-by-moment and you can find peace.

2. Define your Current Situation as Solvable or Unsolvable

While I’m on an ancient Eastern philosophical role, it was the Dalai Lama XIV who said, “if you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry”.

Worry, or ‘brooding’ as I like to call it, is irrational in nature as it doesn’t accomplish anything and can only hold you back from your task. To remove the irrational element from worrying and anxiety you need to label the issue you are worrying over as solvable or unsolvable. If it is solvable then jumping into action to correct the offending issue will assuage the feelings of worry. If the worry is unsolvable (or in many cases – imaginary) then it truly is an irrational worry and the simple knowledge that it is irrational and unsolvable should help take much of the worry off of your mind.

3. Breathe, Sing or Yawn

Worrying and anxiety often manifest themselves in the physical body. So in addition to the mind-driven tactics above consider attacking anxiety from a physical perspective (in addition to the psychological). Most physical acts that relieve tension in the body are related to breathing. Breathing is a natural anti-stress mechanism that calms the mind and body while delivering healthy levels of oxygen that support healthy mental reasoning skills.

This is why runners run when they are stressed (they have learned to regulate their breathing while they run), yogis do yoga, and we give children time outs. It’s also why many people find sex a stress-relieving activity…(Think: heavy breathing!)

fear-doesnt-prevent-deathNext time you feel stress try some breathing-regulation exercises like counting while you breathe (breathe in 1, 2, 3 … breathe out 1, 2, 3) or alternate nostril breathing. If breathing isn’t your thing, no worries — you can also try singing, yawning, swimming or running.

Try practicing breathing while you bring your mind in the moment or analyze the ability to solve the cause of your stress because calming both your mind and body simultaneously will bring you optimal results.

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