How These 4 Things Change The Way I Approach Anxiety

Not so long ago, I got a call from my agent. She told me that I could lose my job. I was not entirely shocked, given the situation we are all in with this pandemic, but I can feel my heart pounding and I can hear my stomach gurgling. Thoughts are chattering inside my head.

My kid needs to stop schooling in the middle of the school year.

Is it safe for me and my kid to ride on the airplane back to the Philippines? Are we going to be quarantined somewhere?

Is the swab test going to be painful? 

I recognized the feeling and I knew I have to do something about it. I do not like myself whenever I am anxious. I get easily irritated. I am less cheerful. I do not eat well. Food doesn’t taste the same. I am concerned that if I, myself, don’t like me when I am anxious, how much more others, especially my family.

So, I took steps to change my mindset on how to approach anxiety. These are the 4 things that so far have worked for me.

1. Stoicism

I read this book, The Daily Stoic, authored by Ryan Holiday. This book is a daily devotional of Stoic wisdom. During those times when I felt my anxiety is at its peak, the daily Stoicism quotes have opened up my mind to this ancient philosophy of accepting the things that cannot be controlled and of being practical and realistic. Be objective when it comes to problems or even good things happening in life. Take all the facts. Instead of complaining, accept the circumstance, move forward, and be better.

I have listed below quotes from Stoicism philosophers. These quotes reminded me to not waste time in anxiety, to focus on the present moment and, to face each problem or good thing as it comes.  It puts my mind into this perspective: this isn’t up to me so why suffer in advance.

We suffer more in imagination than in reality

Seneca

Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want. Welcome events in whichever way they happen. This is the path to peace.

Epictetus

Objective judgment, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now at this very moment—of all external events. That’s all you need.

Marcus Aurelius

2. Yoga

I turned to yoga to relieve my body aches and pains. I read somewhere on the internet that anxiety can cause many issues that lead to muscle tension. Yoga has helped me to relieve, not only muscle tension but also anxiety.

Here are some of the easy yoga poses that you can do anytime whenever you feel anxious. Remember to focus on your breath as you do these poses.

Butterfly pose

Child’s pose

Legs up the wall

Standing forward bend

Corpse pose

There are a lot of yoga videos on Youtube. My favorite Youtube channel is Yoga with Kassandra because she goes straight into the yoga practice and I love her 10-min yoga workouts every day for 30 days. This developed my morning habit which is one of the positive things that happened to me when I started working from home.

3. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.

From headspace.com

I first came across with Mindfulness meditation during a webinar organized by my employer. It was during the early weeks of the quarantine period because of this Covid-19 pandemic. We were taught to find a comfortable sitting position and to focus on our breath as the trainer utter, “Breathe in” and “Breathe out” while playing the sound of a flowing river in the background.

As I pay attention to my thoughts, I observed that my thoughts wander.

“My butt hurts already.”

“Oh no! I haven’t paid the water bill!”

“This is difficult!”

According to the trainer, this is normal because this is the nature of our minds. However, if we do not know how to turn off the brain chatter especially during moments of anxiety, it could be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Mindfulness meditation has helped me to lessen the chatter and has calmed me when I need to. Mindfulness trainers suggest practicing at least 5-10 min per day.

4. Prayer

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

One thing that I learned from Stoicism is to separate all my worries into 2 categories: 1) up to me and 2) not up to me.

Those that are not up to me are things that I cannot control such as health and safety of my family, job security, a cure for Covid-19, a vaccine for the virus, etc., These I submit them all to God in prayer. Knowing and trusting that God listens to all our worries is comforting. It gives fortitude, wisdom, understanding, counsel, and many more. One of my favorites is the Serenity Prayer by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr.

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr

Be Kind To Yourself.

I still struggle with anxiety sometimes. But these 4 things that I have shared with you has taught me that it is OK to feel anxious. Acknowledge and accept the anxiety for we are human. This should not stop us from cheering ourselves on. Let’s say, “I am proud of myself! I am proud of what I have accomplished and what I have become!” And let’s say this to whatever will stand in our way, “Bring it on!”.

Written by: Mary Rochelle San Juan

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