Worrying about things that are beyond your control? You’re not alone. Does worrying about what other people think, or whether you’re making the right decision, or whether you’re ‘good’ enough, sound familiar? While these are just some incredibly common anxious thoughts, and while it’s natural to think along these lines from time to time, sometimes these ideas can be quite debilitating and can lead to a more chronic state of uneasiness, apprehension, or fear. While every individual has different influences such as genetics, personality, life experiences, stress levels and even what they’ve had for lunch on any given day, there are useful tips, tricks and habits that can help bring you back to balance. Here are some you might like to try.
Acknowledge anxious states
Recognising that you’re feeling anxious and giving yourself permission to feel that way is an important first step towards finding constructive ways forward. Bottling emotions up or pushing thoughts away can often be quite harmful.
Practise breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga can help our nervous systems find balance and bring a different perspective to life experiences. Find a relaxation technique that works for you and make time for it every day, even if it’s just for five minutes.
Try restorative yoga such as Yin Yoga, meditation, breathing practices such as alternate nostril breathing, or learn how to use aromatherapy to calm the nervous system and create space for mindfulness.
Immerse yourself in music, art and hobbies
Simple activities like listening to music, reading, painting, playing a musical instrument or immersing yourself in your chosen hobby, can create a different ‘flow’ of thought and feeling we’re living in, and enjoying the moment becomes the activity, rather than focusing on experiences in the past or the future.
Spend time in nature
Time immersed in nature has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental and physical health. Spending time sitting in a local park, venturing further afield into neighbouring bushland or embarking on a longer hike or bike ride though nature, can be relaxing, restorative, replenishing and more.
Consider your diet
Upping magnesium, reducing refined sugar and alcohol, and eating anti-oxidant and pro-biotic rich foods are just some of the ways you can actively work towards stabilising your mood.
Move, sleep & take care
Make sure to look after your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and take breaks when you need them. When we take care of ourselves, we’re better equipped to deal with whatever life throws our way, including situations beyond our control.
Focus on the things you CAN control
Life is full of controllable and uncontrollable outcomes, and it is important to refocus on the things that you can influence and let go of the things you can’t. Things like what you eat, what your wear and how you interact with your peers are within your control, but how other people feel, what actions they take, or bigger issues like natural disasters and geopolitics are usually not. What you CAN do is help people that may be affected by larger, uncontrollable issues and take control of how you respond to them. Make a list of all the things in your life that you have power over and make an effort to focus on those things.
Establish healthy boundaries
Understand that you can’t please everyone. Instead, focus on making yourself happy. When faced with the issue of making someone else happy, stop and think about how the outcome may affect you. If you believe it’s not in your best health interests, don’t be afraid to say “no”.
Call a friend
Calling a friend or reaching out to someone when you’re feeling anxious can have a twofold effect – sharing how you feel can sometimes diffuse those feelings; and focusing on someone else other than ourselves can be a welcome relief and change our perspectives on our own circumstances. Reach out to your network, or have a look at some of the free professional support systems available like LifeLine, Beyond Blue or Kids Helpline.
Helping others in need can have benefits for the helper as well as the recipient! Just a few hours of volunteering can improve your mood and outlook on life. Regular volunteering is also linked with improved overall mental health. Through volunteering, you can make new friends and deepen already existing relationships. You can also learn new skills and improve your employability, if that is something you are looking to do. Find out why and how here.
Seek professional help
Another way towards better balance might include seeking professional help such as with a counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist, naturopath, Chinese medicine practitioner, or other trusted modality practitioner. Getting the help you need can be one of the best, and most important steps.
We can’t control everything but we can learn to find healthier ways to react to situations. These are just some of the tips that you may find useful.
By Sarah Panther