Type “anxiety” into Google.
You’ll find something like, “uneasiness of mind”, “emotional distress”, “fear”.
(Keep reading, I promise this will end on a positive note!)
Anxiety isn’t something I ever felt. Honestly. Sadness, yes. Anger, yes. Jealously, yes. But anxiety? I didn’t even know what the word meant until recently.
For years (since my early 20s) I practiced and taught yoga consistently. I didn’t know it at the time, but that lent itself to a life of focus and peace, even among the most uncomfortable situations.
It was why I could keep my cool in traffic jams, why I could effortlessly give of myself in social situations, why city living never stressed me out.
About a year ago, I stopped teaching and practicing regularly. Very quickly I started noticing this “uneasiness” creeping up. It confused me. The non-stop thinking and analyzing. The nervousness. The lack of focus and overwhelm.
And when I asked a friend if she’d ever felt this before she gave me a crazy look and answered, “Uh… yea. Who hasn’t?”
It got me thinking about what we’ve come to accept as normal. And then it got me blaming (i.e. “it’s my IPhone, I gotta get rid of it”, “it’s the chaos of the city, it’s finally getting to me).
Then it got me scheming… I came up with a plan.
I’d rent a room on farmland and commute to the city. Perfect. At least the place I laid down at night and woke up in the morning would be a peaceful one. I’d leave behind the drunk college girl begging her boyfriend to open his door at 3 am and the garbage trucks barreling by my window hours later. But hold up, what about all the things I love about city living? And about my IPhone, for that matter?
Could it be possible to feel peace among the chaos? Without spending hours in the yoga room?
It became a bit of an experiment. Here’s what I found out: our ability to stay centered, to feel still within ourselves (just like our ability to maintain a healthy diet), is dependent on how seriously we seek it.
Think about it. If we aren’t actively trying to eat well, we’ll end up filling our bodies with junk, right? It’s what’s most easily accessed and is deceptively appealing.
Same goes for our emotional state. If we aren’t actively trying to find center, stillness, to come home to ourselves (especially in the city) we’ll end up full of junk (constant noise, non stop stimulation, overload of information — deceptively appealing and deceptively comforting).
So, question is: what simple steps can we take every day to increase our likelihood of feeling still and grounded?
Below I share my top 3 “anxiety be gone” list. Commit to ONE of them for the next week and see where it takes you.
1. Find the sun – This winter, after a week in Tulum, Mexico, I recognized how comforting it was to be on nature’s clock… waking with the sun and following it to bed. I came home to Boston and sought out the sun. Sunrise and sunset. And happened to find a view of both from the roof of my apartment. Who knew? Where will you find the sun?
2. Turn OFF the lights + light up some candles – Naturally darkness induces a sense of calm to prepare us for sleep. I know it sounds extreme to turn off all artificial light after sunset but in just a few days you’ll notice an ease you can’t find under the bright lights (if I were you, I’d exclude computer and phone after dark as well). Try it for 3 days… (if not to find stillness, do it cuz’ candlelight is sexy).
3. Sit Still – Some might call it “meditating” which I know you’ve thought about doing… if the idea intimidates you just think of it as sitting still. In a comfortable place. With your eyes closed and these sounds. Set your timer for 15 minutes and do it every day for the next 7 days (always helpful to find a buddy who will join you – the more accountability the better to start).
Oh, and before I go! Speaking of stillness and finding center…
I’m super excited to announce a one-day Urban Retreat I’ll be co-leading with my business partner, Ashley, September 7th 2014 (save the date!) Details have yet to be release but what I can tell you is you’ll be spending this one day “time out” fully unplugged and in community with other women… moving, learning, connecting. To stay in the know, get on this list.
Got other strategies to share?
Please share below!