This is a big one to conquer, right? Absolutely! But what I’m about to share is truly life changing if, and the key word is IF, you practice with consistency. First realize that being human means we will feel worry and regret sneak into our minds from time to time, and the question becomes not how to get rid of the feelings, but rather how to ride through the storm without getting tangled up in it.
As you can probably attest to, getting tangled in the feelings leads to a negative spiral of head spinning anxiety and helplessness. So how do we avoid this trap? The answer is simple but not easy. BE HERE NOW IN THE PRESENT MOMENT! This can feel so hard to do, but I promise it gets easier the more you practice. When we worry about something, we are projecting into the future, and when we regret, we are caught up in the past. In other words, it is impossible to be in the moment when we are caught up in the drama of these feelings.
Here are 3 steps to help you be more present, particularly when feeling anxious, though they can be practiced anytime, and I encourage it daily.
1) Exercise! Any kind is good, just do it. Walk, run, swim, dance, play tennis, do yoga, weights, whatever. You get the picture. IF you like to get a good workout that’s great, you’ll have an easier time than those who don’t choose this on a regular basis. If that is you sitting in the chair thinking you’d rather do anything but exercise, just start small. The key is to get your heart rate up. This also helps us to get into our bodies and out of our heads where worry and regret take hold. If music helps, turn it up. Got a book on tape, try that. Anything can help. Afterwards, give yourself a nice stretch, moving where the body leads you. Listen to your body! This helps ground you even more and will increase your ability to go inward for peace instead of listening to the voice of worry and regret.
2) Practice listening to what you need in the moment. Make sure that it is something that you have control over, not focusing on what someone else can give to you. This will be easier after exercise as you will be more in tune with your body. Simply ask, “What am I needing for myself right now?” This takes patience as the answer may not come immediately. I encourage you to write out whatever comes to you without editing. The key here is really listening to ourselves without judgement. Can you be your own best friend, or put another way, your own good parent? Do you feel the need for a bath in the middle of the day? Is the need to visit a special place, or call a friend? Perhaps you need to soak up some sun or even do some work you’ve been procrastinating. Whatever it is, focus on the moment at hand. Another helpful way to stay in tune with what we want is simply to breathe slowly. It’s best to start by pushing the air out through your lips until you feel your belly button recede. Then, breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed, feeling your belly expand. Practice this while focusing on what you need and want in the moment on a daily basis, and see your stress level go down. This is how you can take control.
3) Pay attention to your senses. Try using all five to the fullest for an hour. Find something you enjoy looking at, and truly SEE with focused grattitude. Is it the beauty in nature, an old photo album, a piece of art or a cherished pet that brings us a smile? We are typically only partially seeing the beauty life has to offer, while being distracted. There is nothing like truly seeing to bring us into the moment of now! Next up, try listening to the sound of something you enjoy. Do you love music? Then turn up the volume! Maybe the sound of a nearby ocean, stream or fountain will soothe your soul. Whatever it is, spend a good 15 minutes listening with focused attention. The same thing goes for smelling and tasting. A cup of hot tea can work wonders, as well as slowly eating an orange or tangerine while smelling the sweetness as you peel it. You pick the food or drink, and truly savor the taste and smell. Lastly, don’t forget about the importance of touch! Sometimes we need to ask those closest to us for a hug or massage, or simply to hold our hand. If you can splurge on a professional massage, then by all means do it and enjoy!
The possibilities are endless, and not only help you to become more present in the moment, but also to feel grattitude which in itself is a stress reliever.
So try these out as well as anything else that helps you to be more present in the now, and see how you can take control of regret and worry today!
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