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Living life intentionally without anxiety

Today we will talk about finding ways to deal with experiences of anxiety.

You may wonder “What do experiences of anxiety mean?”  Some people describe the anxiety as a big monster that frightens people.  Other people find it hard to describe the anxiety, yet they acknowledge that the anxiety tries to take over people’s lives.  The anxiety may visit all people.

The anxiety has the following influence on people.  Some people find it challenging to complete tasks and work.  Sometimes the anxiety convinces people of lies.  In other situations, it tries to hijack people’s lives.  These may occur when people are experiencing psychological and physical stress experiences, and when they experience discomfort.  The anxiety may hide in people’s bodies, with children it may be present in an aching tummy or head, with some people it is that experience of butterflies in the belly, troubled tummy and tummy related accidents, in tears and clingy behaviour.  Some people may choose to withdraw; they feel isolated and maybe forgetful. These descriptors are for explanation and not diagnostic purposes. 

What can one do to lessen the influence of the anxiety on one’s life?  Speak to a trained counsellor, psychologist, medical practitioner and psychiatrist.  Identify what is within your control and outside of your control.  Focus on what is within your control and let go of what is outside of your control.

Living life intentionally is a significant differentiator. Intentional living means to live in the present.  How can one live in the present?  It may be as easy as focusing on your breathing.  You rest your attention on your breath that is in the here and now.  You may google for specific exercises; there is a wide variety.  I will explain one that helps with reducing the impact of anxiety and helps with falling asleep.  It is called the 4-7-8 breathing exercises.  You inhale for four counts, filling your belly with air, moving your belly button away from your spine.  Then hold your breath for seven counts, feel the sensation of the breath.  Slowly exhale for eight counts and pull your belly button towards your spine.  Keep your attention on your breathing and the sensation in your body.  You may repeat this exercise 3-4 times.  Just ensure that you do not do it before having to drive or operate mechanical equipment, as the exercises have a relaxing effect on the body and mind.  This exercise communicates with your brain and sends the message that you are safe.  Your entire body and physiology respond to this.  You could repeat these exercises in the morning and the evening.  Whenever you notice any sensations in your body, look at it in awe and wonder, as if you become aware of it for the first time, remain curious and non-judgemental. 

If you choose to do a body scan, you may move your attention throughout your body.  When you encounter muscle stiffness, pain, and sensations, imagine that on your exhale that you can exhale through that body part.  Our minds do wonder, when you notice that, bring your attention back to your breathing.  In a situation where you mind wonders to a specific topic, make a note of that and pay attention to that aspect of your life, after your body scan or breathing practice.

Participating in exercises and movement is also crucial.  In a situation where you go for a walk, walk with intention, for example, focusing on the steps, experiencing the sun or wind on your face, listening to the birds, looking at the trees and flowers.  If you choose to do some gardening, focus on the colour, texture, and smell of the soil, feel the dirt between your toes or fingers.  Take time to smell the roses.  These practices also help with grounding you in the present.

Stay hydrated; focus on the smell and taste of the water. Limit your caffeine intake, especially after 13h00, consult a dietician regarding healthy food options and eat your food mindfully.  Ensure that you get a good night’s rests, some research suggests between nine and ten hours of sleep per night.  Focus on and establish your night-time routines, for example taking a bath, listening to music and some hard copy reading.

Remain in emotional and social contact with your loved ones if you share the same house, stock up on hugs.  Alternatively, find a piece of clothing or teddy bear to comfort you when you need a hug.  Consider investing in a body brush.  If you have the money, pay a visit to the physio for a massage or a visit to a beauty salon could help.

Pay attention to your spiritual needs and practices, whether through gardening or reading holy scriptures, followed by prayer and meditation practices.  Reflect and journal about your thoughts, feelings and insights.  Include your reflection on what you have read.  Listen to spiritual music. 

Living life intentionally, remaining in the present and focusing on what is within your control may help with claiming your life back from the anxiety.  These practices create the breeding ground for bravery and mindful living.  Speak to your counsellor, psychologist, medical practitioner, and psychiatrist if you need more support.

You are not alone, contact me to discuss this topic,

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