Oh morning anxiety. It can take you over before you have even had a chance to take a few deep breaths and feel grateful for another day. But the real trick with anxiety is that the feeling of worry, stress and fear masterfully camouflages itself onto everything. Anxiety isn’t selective. Everything takes on an intense sense of urgency – big or small – making you feel like you are already behind before your feet hit the floor. And in addition to your own list of worries there is a chance you’ve taken on some of your family and friends as well, or perhaps even global concerns.
Which starts your day in the red zone and because you’re in the red – you probably aren’t being particularly kind to yourself.
So let’s see if we can nip this pressure cooker in the bud and bypass upsetting your inner C-3PO.
How can you stop your anxious mind? How can you take your control back?
My advice is when you start to notice your mind racing…
PUSH PAUSE OR TELL YOURSELF PAUSE.
Then take in a deep breath.
You have now entered into what I have dubbed the Pause Land of Serenity 🙂
(If you take a few minutes here you can set your focus and tone for the rest day – easily saving yourself hours of anxious thinking.)
Now the Pause Land of Serenity is an awesome place because:
Here … TIME STOPS
Here … Your mind can slow down
Here … You can think wisely and confidently
Here … You are in a safe place where all is well
Here … Everything is fine and everything will work out for the best
Here … You are whole, wise, clear and powerful
Here … You can think clearly and know exactly what you need to do today
Now calmly ask yourself:
“What is my Top Priority today?”
“What top priority is wise to accomplish that will also feel amazing to tick off my list?”
Be 100% realistic. Limit this to one or two top priorities. And that is it.
Why? Because you have side priorities that you also need to do like…paying bills, going to the grocery store, working out, emails, making meals, returning calls, spending time with people you love, going to appointments, picking kids up, etc.
So what one or two top tasks would be wise to focus on today that you can reasonably accomplish? If it is a big project break it down into doable, bit-sized pieces.
Try this now…
Now once you have clarity on your top priorities notice if you feel calmer simply by cutting your massive list down massively.
(This one may be a surprise for you! It is also more important than you might realize.)
What is one thing you could do today that would fill you up with joy, relaxation, wisdom, excitement or peace? This is your non-negotiable self-care time and it is vitally important. If you don’t take time to fill yourself up with healthy pleasures you will eventually burnout and feel depleted…leading to overwhelm, heightened anxiety and numbing yourself out in some way.
Could your self-care be laughing and watching something funny? Meditating for 10-20 minutes? Reading an uplifting book? Doing nothing for 30 minutes except lying in the sun? Going for a walk? Listening to an inspiring interview? Get a massage or acupuncture? Going to Yoga or working out? Calling up a friend or someone you love? Reading and playing with your kids while being 100% present with them? Taking time to pray or connect with spirit?
Figure out what you would love to do today that will fill you up, strengthen you and nourish you.
Now that you have your TOP PRIORITY and YOUR SELF-CARE clear in mind…what are your SECONDARY PRIORITES? Again be reasonable.
If you put too many things down you won’t accomplish any of them very well, nor have time for what is really important. It is much wiser to accomplish a small list well than a big list that isn’t even doable.
So be discerning. Which to-do’s are essential? Which ones are worthy to make the cut?
Now in The Pause Land of Serenity…wisely plan your day.
Set yourself up to succeed.
Once you’ve got your list keep this in mind…
The world is full of unexpecteds … you aren’t in 100% control of everything that happens. (Thankfully so as you aren’t responsible for making sure everything in the world functions…it might annoy you not to be in control of everything, but really that would be the worst friggin’ job on the planet.) So my advice is try and reel in any tendencies of being overly controlling as it will amplify your anxiety and it doesn’t work anyways. Instead anticipate that you’ll probably get unexpected to-do’s, disturbances, calls or emails. So be prepared to bend and flow when needed.
If a surprise does arise messing up your priorities for the day – PAUSE AGAIN – and take a few minutes to wisely restrategize and prioritize your day. What can wait till tomorrow and what is best to get done today? (If you don’t do this your anxiety can rear its ugly head because you’ll default into feeling overwhelmed.)
Do your absolute best to FOCUS ON ONE TASK AT A TIME – as anxiety feeds on worrying about 20 things at once. Notice that just discipling yourself to focus on one task at a time you naturally feel more calm because you can actually do a really good job and handle what is in front of you.
Remember the anxious mind is the UNFOCUSED mind. It jumps from one thing to the next chaotically overwhelming and exaggerating everything it touches…while deteriorating your confidence.
Your power is YOUR FOCUS. If your mind starts racing PUSH PAUSE and look at your small priority list. Recenter yourself and get perspective. Know that you ultimately have the choice to let your mind run wild or reel it back in.
This will take daily practice at first, but if you do this everyday it will get easier and easier.
Start your day being centered, calm and powerful.
I hope this was helpful. Take what works and leave the rest. 🙂
If you have any questions leave them in the comments below, or if you think this article would help someone you love please share it with your amigos. Also these suggestions were designed to help you tame the anxious mind, but if you are looking to get to the core root of what is causing your anxiety in the first place, my book The Anxiety Solution, will help you identify the underlying stress connected to your anxiety, as well as walk you through a step by step process of how to self-heal your symptoms from the inside out.