I was recently asked to write a series of tips for some common emotional challenges for an online wellness site. I thought I’d share them here with you as well. Enjoy!
1. Anxiety – Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
Anxiety goes hand in hand with an over stimulated nervous system. When you are anxious, your mind is highly activated, your breath is shallow, and your body is tense.
Trying to use your mind to figure your way out of anxiety just creates more anxiety. You need to interrupt the thought pattern and relax your nervous system. You can do this by getting more into your body, which will help both your mind and body to relax. Some ways to do this are:
- Go for a walk in nature – getting outdoors, moving your body, breathing fresh air – all of these things support you in letting go of anxiety and feeling more spacious and relaxed. This also switches up your surroundings, which is a great way to shake up your mood and find new perspectives.
- Breathing exercises – such as making your exhale twice as long as your inhale or alternate nostril breathing. Even closing your eyes for five minutes and paying attention to your breath going in and out naturally can help calm your body and mind.
- Feel your feet – put your attention on your legs and feet. You can breathe into them or touch them or move them around (like stomping, dancing, or wiggling). This helps to ground you in your body and connect you to the present moment – both of which help relieve anxiety.
- Yoga or meditation – this will help you consciously focus on your breath and on relaxing your mind and body. Even if you feel edgy while doing it, there is still benefit to taking that time out for yourself. It’s about self-care, not perfection.
2. Loneliness – Speak Your Truth
The best cure for loneliness is connection.
Part of what we crave when we are lonely is to be seen and valued by another person. In order to have this experience, we must first take the risk to be vulnerable and put ourselves in situations that foster connection and intimacy.
So many of us keep things to ourselves when it would really benefit us to share and ask for help. When you are feeling lonely, reach out to people in your community (whoever that is for you) and tell them what you are going through. Ask for their support, and then allow yourself to receive it. It is easy stay in isolation when you are feeling lonely, so counteract this by reaching out to someone.
Having real conversations with people and sharing what you think and feel is a great way to create intimacy, and to be seen. When you hold your genuine thoughts and feelings in, you create a barrier to connection – both with yourself and with everyone else. But when you share your truth and allow some vulnerability, you deepen your relationships and your fulfillment. It also opens you up to really see and hear the other person, which builds trust and increases connection.
If you don’t have a community already or this feels overwhelming, you can start small by going to a class, event, or group activity (pick something you enjoy – like yoga, pottery, music, running, volunteering…whatever interests you). While you are there, challenge yourself to say hello to at least one person. Breathe through any discomfort and allow yourself to connect and be seen.
A practice to try: Pick one person in your life that you feel safe with or want to be closer to and tell them how you are feeling right now. Extra credit: ask for their support on something you are having a hard time with. And then allow yourself to receive it.
3. Indecision – Trust Your Intuition!
Making a decision can feel stressful and confusing. You want to make the “right” choice – but what is it? When we get trapped in indecision or going back and forth, it somehow makes the uncertainty seem even more intense.
The truth about indecision is that you often know the answer but something inside you won’t allow you to fully choose it. There can be a battle of head and heart – where our logic or conditioning battles with our true desire and inner pull. If you have experienced indecision, then you likely know that analyzing things can quickly turn into over-thinking or obsession ~ leaving you feeling pretty disoriented and confused. It can also trigger self-doubt and fear (often fear of making a mistake).
To get around the doubt and over-analysis, you’ll want to consult another part of you: your intuition. Tune into your gut feelings, your flashes of insight, and even the impulse that set the whole decision in motion (we often get a nudge to do something and then go into indecision or resistance and forget the original guidance).
Even if your intuition doesn’t make sense right now, it will later. Too often we dismiss our inner guidance because we can’t back it up with logic or evidence. But our intuition is operating at another level – where it has more information about what is to come, what we will need, or what is in our best interest. With intuition, you need to have a little faith. And when you reflect on it later, you will be glad you did.
There are many ways to connect with your intuition and consider a decision. Here are a few examples:
- Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Relax and feel your awareness drop into your body (and out of your head). Notice how you feel right now – are you nervous, excited, tired, energized, contracted, expansive, etc.? Then think of your first option and see how that feels in your body. Let it go. Now think of your next option and see how that feels. And so on until you’ve gone through all your choices. Make note of what you find, and explore that further if needed.
- Use your imagination. Find a quiet moment to close your eyes, relax, and get present. Imagine you have decided to choose and proceed with Option A. Notice how you feel about it. Imagine what your life will be like in the next few weeks, now that you’ve chosen A. Then imagine what your life will be like 3 months from now. What you will be doing, how you will be feeling. And then imagine it is a year from now. Do the same process with Option B.
- Take a piece of paper and write your options down on it. Keep it somewhere you will see it throughout the day. Every time you notice it, see which option your gut tells you to choose and make a tally mark next to it. Do not think about it. Just go with your first impulse. At the end of the day (or even a few days), add up the tally marks and go with the option that has the highest number.
4. Fear – Identify Your Fear Voice
Fear can feel overwhelming and compelling. It can feel like you are frozen in place or have a knot in your stomach. To deal with fear, you need to create space around it – mentally, emotionally, and physically. This means taking some deep breaths to calm your nervous system and saying things to yourself like “I am safe” or “I’ll be ok” – even if you don’t know how, even if you don’t totally believe it.
As you release your attachment to fear, you can begin to see if for what it is. You can get curious and ask questions like “whose voice is this?” or “what does this remind me of?” You can start to tease out the voice of your fear and get to know it as simply an aspect of yourself. Then you can ask, “what does my deeper self say?” or “what is really true for me right now?” – so that you can tune into your own wisdom and guidance. This will help you get perspective and may provide you with some insight or suggestions for what you can do to address the situation in a calm and balanced way.
5. Low Confidence – Challenge Yourself
Think of a goal or challenge you can assign yourself – something that will stretch you. Pick something that isn’t too easy, but also not so hard that you won’t do it. Think Goldilocks – you want the one that is “just right.” Maybe you want to train for a full or half marathon. Or enroll in a class to learn glass blowing. Or join Toastmasters. It can be anything that excites you and also makes you nervous. We’re looking for butterflies in the stomach. That’s how you know you are at your growing edge!
Quick mindset shift: Every time you hear yourself say or feel “I can’t” – replace it immediately with “I can.” Even if you don’t believe it yet, this switch will create a new pattern, and your natural response will go from “no” to “maybe” and eventually to “yes.” When we move beyond “I can’t,” we open up opportunities for satisfying and confidence-building experiences.
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