Unraveling Anxiety- How to retrain your brain for the best instead of the worst
Ahh, the holidays, a time to rejoice with loved ones, bake yummy desserts and come together in celebration of the most wonderful time of the year.
Tis’ the season to be… Miserable?
It is also a time of intense emotion, when we seem to feel things more viscerally, when problems seem bigger and harder to manage, when relationships are the most strained. After all, what better way to trivialize one’s emotions than to remind her that at the holidays, there is always someone who has it worse than you do, so “Chin Up Buttercup, your lot in life ain’t so bad.”
Puleaze. The truth of it all is that pain and suffering isn’t a contest, and there is no superlative. Hurting hurts, and it doesn’t matter who has it worse , all that matters is that we find a way to turn it into something better.
Joy, love, happiness.
Those are emotions I can endorse. That’s the kind of holiday I want for everyone. So let’s focus on that:
Here are 5 easy steps to retrain your brain for the best instead of the worst. Practice some or all of these and you’ll soon find yourself looking at a cup that runneth over, and not all over your mother-in- law’s Persian rug.
Whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, take it in stride. Don’t expect the entire Christmas dinner to come together with a flick of your wrist. Mary Poppins might have returned but you aren’t her. Instead, start writing a plan for the steps that you will follow to get to your goal. If that’s a 4 course meal for ten by 5pm on C day, work backwards and sketch out each component of the ordeal and what it’s going to cost in time and resources, so you know what to expect. Then when you get there it’s just a matter of execution and emotions can take a back seat. Logic is driving.
Live For Today-
This one sounds trite, but hear me out. The late, great Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,’’ talks of living life in air tight compartments. We can’t change the past, and worrying about the future isn’t going to change that either. All we can do Is live in the hear and now, the moment. If a bill is due a week from now and the money isn’t there, the worst thing we can do is let that spoil today. We should instead focus on what we can do in the present. Maybe it’s something as simple as rethinking the situation with the outcome we desire. More on that next.
Paint it done-
One of my favorite thought leaders Brene Brown uses this saying a lot and I just love it! When visualization proves to be nearly impossible this technique helps me to see the ideal outcome as it would play out and imagine the perfect circumstances falling into place. No one ever said “What if?” had to be bad. What if the outcome is exactly as you desired? Do you even know what that looks like? If not, it’s time to take a few minutes and map that out. How can you hit a target you aren’t even aiming at? You can’t.
Have a little faith in.. well… you. –
Have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree? Of course not. Yet every old sitcom, or comic strip has at least one reference to some poor fireman being called to get a cat out of a tree. Cats don’t stay in trees forever. Eventually what goes up must come down, and in this case, whatever is making you suffer, this too shall pass. Know that you are not destined to spend the rest of your life in whatever pickle you find yourself in. You will find the way to fix it, because it’s bothering you enough to make a change! Sometimes those circumstances seem dire to get us to finally move our butts and make a new choice! Sometimes it’s to show us a better way, sometimes it’s to protect us. Whatever the case, know that you won’t be in the tree forever, no ladder required.
Be one with the moment-
When you find yourself getting overwhelmed about your life circumstances, or scared about your financial situation, immediately take stock of the current situation. Settle into the mindfulness of the moment in front of you and just observe. Who are you with? What sounds do you hear? Can you feel yourself breathing? Your heart beating? What wonderful things are happening right before your eyes? Are your children playing? Is the sun shining? Maybe Burl Ives is slinking his way across your tv singing Jingle Jangle Jingle and you are drinking cocoa in the light of the tree in your adult feety pajamas, or maybe the baby is asleep on your shoulder as you are finishing the Sunday crossword. When you can take yourself out of the emotional turmoil and into the mindfulness of the moment, you realize how precious time is and how circumstantial our problems really are in the greater scheme of things. Despite the challenges, there is still SO much to be grateful for.
Be Merry and Bright!
Hopefully these tips fit neatly into your holiday toolbox for when you feel like you can’t summon that Christmas cheer. Just remember that whatever the reason for the season, no one deserves to be stressed out or anxious at any time of the year. Use these tricks to take control of your feelings and have a Merry Christmas! Want more tips like these? Join us in Unstoppable where we conquer these and many other challenges every day! Hope to see you there!