Tuesday, September 30, 2014

7 Tips to Manage Anxiety

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Everyone (well not everyone, come on now, but let's say some people) knows that my tagline is "What are you manifesting?" If you didn't know ... now you do! Read 
Sometimes, we know what's making us anxious and can negotiate calm. Other times, our anxiety is caused by hormones or too much caffeine or something more out of our control, and we just have to ride it out. 
Other times, still, we feel anxiety but doing what it tells us to do is unserving, so we want to try to weather the anxiety storm. For example, anxiety is telling you to go home from work even though you have to get a project done; or it's telling you to leave the theater even though you really want to see your son's dance performance; or it's telling you to pull your head out of the water even though you really want to learn how to scuba-dive (been there). 
So, whether you're riding it out (or, as Pema Chodron says, "staying" with it) to perform or to survive, here are seven tips for making sitting with anxiety less torturous: 
1. Cool down. 
You know how we tend to "go outside for air" or splash cold water on our faces when we're feeling on the verge of a panic attack? Well, we're onto something. Anxiety causes vasoconstriction (the "fight or flight" response), and we tend to experience changes in temperature as a result. 
If you're feeling anxious, check into your body and notice if you feel overly warm or cold. Turn on the AC, take off your sweater, or move near a fan or window. Just be mindful, though, that you might find yourself feeling cold shortly thereafter, so have layers handy! 
2. Imagine living alongside the fires, rather than putting them out.
I once had a client who referred to his problems as "fires." He believed he had to extinguish the fires in order to be happy. We soon realized, though, that there will always be fires, so while it made sense to spend some energy working to put them out, it also made sense to learn to accept and expect a few fires to be burning here and there. 
Sometimes with anxiety, we become so focused on stopping it or fixing it, we don't get anything else done or get to enjoy life at all. Getting by when anxiety's high can be very challenging, but try to make some space for that anxiety so you can still find some moments of joy in your day. The fire's there, and smoke may be blowing in your face much of the time, but there might be other times when the wind changes and it's not so bad. 
3. Breathe, move, and be in nature. 
Get into your body using your breath or movement. (Or both!) Some days at work, anxiety tells me I'll feel better if I eat my lunch at 9am or go on social media for an hour. Those days, if I can catch anxiety's false promises before I distract myself with food or Instagram, I pull out my yoga mat and take Child's Pose or do some Sun Salutations
That's not always realistic if you work in a cramped or public setting, so instead bring your attention to your breath for a few moments. Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest, and try to make the belly hand move more, or do a couple stretches if you have the space. Another option is going for a walk, as more and more research is proving the benefits of getting out in nature. Make sure you have proper outerwear for a cold or rainy winter! 
4. Soothe yourself. 
You know how when you're sick, you make yourself soup or have a bath or watch reruns of Friends? Same goes for days when you're feeling super anxious — although what soothes you when you're anxious might be different from what soothes you when you have the flu. 
When I'm feeling super anxious and know it's not going anywhere, I make sure I have some Lana Del Ray queued up and rub on some essential oils. If you have access to a (nice) pet, spending time with one can be very soothing as well; however, ask yourself what you need in that moment. It's OK not to know, too. 
5. Remember impermanence. 
If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: Anxiety will come and go. And then it will come and go again. And again, and again. Everything is constantly in flux, transient, changing — your thoughts, your feelings, your existence. So, when it all feels like too much, remind yourself it will pass, and try to breathe through another moment
6. Be kind to yourself. 
Sitting with anxiety is far more difficult when we're beating up on ourselves. While reminding yourself of anxiety's impermanent nature, and soothing or distracting yourself with healthy coping strategies, practice self-compassion.
Say to yourself what you would to a friend. Remind yourself that anxiety does not equate to weakness, brokenness, or not trying hard enough. Empathize with what you are going through, acknowledge we're all in this together, and try to soften the language you use with yourself to derail some of that shame-causing self-judgment. 
7. Remember, you're not actually that important. 
Yes, that's what I meant to say. Often, our anxiety is made worse by a belief that we must "get it under control" or be "on" for others. While it's true that some ways of reacting to anxiety can affect relationships, I guarantee nobody is more afflicted by it than you. And most people are too focused on their own insecurities, struggles, and anxieties to spend much time worrying about how yours make them feel. So, try to permit yourself to be anxious for the time being until it passes, knowing that the world will continue to turn, regardless or whether or not you're feeling anxious. 
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
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To learn more about happiness, overcoming fear, or dealing with stress, check out our video courses How To Create More Happiness & Meaning In Your LifeHow To Ditch Fear & Connect To A Higher Level Of Inspiration, and How To Manage Stress With Meditation.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

20 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told me About Grief

You May Also Enjoy 3 Things That Keep You From An Abundant Life I've worked with hundreds of clients who blocked their path to an abundant life without realizing it. Does this sound like you? Read The toughest part about losing someone or something you love isn’t saying goodbye. It is trying to find the courage to go on and learn how to live without them. It’s unclear which pain is worse: the shock of what happened, the immediate loss or the desperate ache of trying to pick up the pieces and move on. The hard part is nothing you can say or do can make the pain of loss any better. It just sits there in your life. It happened, but you are helpless. It happened fast, without notice. This week, my family lost one of our beloved members; my Mom and Dad’s chocolate Labrador retriever died suddenly. One minute she was prancing around in the yard. Seconds later, she was dead. That’s the thing about death. It takes its victims when we least expect it. Losing a loved one cracks your heart open and leaves you exposed. You’re never ready to say goodbye. Ever. Yet it's a very real, natural part of life. The thing about death is no matter how prepared you are, it will always shock you. The grieving process has a way of showing us what we're really made of. The more you loved, the more painful the passing. Death, tragedy and loss allow us to go deeper into our souls and see what we value most. It’s not always a bad thing. Even so, I wish someone told me what to expect. But until you're in it, you can’t understand. From my heart to yours, anyone who is grieving, or getting through a loss, a break up, divorce or death of a loved one, this list is for you. 1. We don't actually get over losses. We absorb them, and they redirect us into a more grounded way of living. 2. You'll discover depths of your love you never knew existed. 3. Never regret loving the way you did. Love is always worth it. 4. People may say hurtful, stupid things. Don’t take it personally. They are often just trying to help. 5. There isn’t always a spiritual aha moment or a reason. Sometimes, it just is what it is. 6. Know you did the best you could with the time you had. Forgive yourself. There is nothing more you could have done or said. 7. Anger is normal. Feel it. Embrace it. Allow it to work through you. 8. Death brings out the best in families. It will also bring out the worst. Be prepared. 9. Losing a loved one might make you question your purpose and your own goals. That can be a beautiful thing. 10. You will find comfort in the most unexpected places. 11. Sudden bursts of emotion are part of the process. Allow yourself to be fully present in them. 12. There is no such thing as normal when it comes to grieving. Be patient and kind to yourself. 13. People will show you who they truly are. When times are tough you will see others true colors. 14. You will never go back to being your “old” self. 15. There is no timeline for grieving. 16. Losing a loved one reminds us of what matters most in life. Don’t lose perspective. 17. Experiencing great loss is an opportunity to drop the ego and live more from your heart. 18. Numbing the pain will make it worse. don't procrastinate the process. Feel your feelings. 19. Your life was richer and more wonderful because of the love you had. 20. What feels like the end is often a new beginning. To make sure you live your life to the fullest and have no regrets sign up for this FREE guide. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com You May Also Enjoy To learn more about happiness, check out our video course How To Create More Happiness & Meaning In Your Life.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Good Day in the Life of a Grieving Widower

A Good Day in the Life of a Grieving Widower
By: Pierre Milot
Strangely enough, today is a good day, it's been so long since I've had one.
All bundled up in my red checkered construction shirt, and discreetly trespassing on my neighbour’s long country driveway, I'm taking my old dog Max out for his morning walk.  Protected from the cool river wind by the bordering woods, I can feel the hot spring sun gently warming my face and shoulders, and can hear nothing else but the birds chirping, the familiar honking sound of the Canadian wild geese flying high in the clear blue sky happy to come back home, and the delightful crunching sound of gravel underneath my feet as I walk.  With an uncertain smile I breathe in the fresh morning breeze, I feel good.
Strolling along, lost in thought, I marvel at our capacity to recover from what seems at times like the 'unrecoverable'.  How can it be that today I can smile when only yesterday I was in the deepest of sorrows, with little hope for tomorrow.   As I ponder on this, I reminisce, I think back on that dreadful November day, when, as I was holding my wife's cold dying hand and counting her last breaths, she left me in so much pain and loneliness.  I remember that while I was putting on a brave front reassuring her that I would be OK, I was prompting her to go towards the ''light'' (as if she wasn't  already there, for where else could such a kind and loving soul be, but in the arms of an angel).
Little did I know then that very soon I would be kneeling on the ground, bent over in gut-wrenching agony, sobbing like a child, and begging for her to come back.  I would have done everything then, change my religion, give away all that I owned, even my life and soul to see and feel her, to be able to one last time delicately run my fingers through her soft silky hair, as I lovingly kiss her forehead while savouring her particular body scent that I've grown to love so much.
But, if the Divine Intelligence in its infinite wisdom has granted us the gift of growth through sorrow and pain, it has also given us the necessary strength to overcome the same hardships.  So, reaching inside the deepest confines of my being for that slippery strength, I managed to somehow make the pain more bearable, stand up and shakily face the day one more time.  
Now, in an effort to heal my shattered life, I'm slowly learning to redefine my sense of self, my identity in this strange and scary new world without her, to think in terms of 'I' instead of 'We', while at the same time keep her memory alive in my heart.
I will make it, I will survive, I will somehow learn to be whole again but in a different way than before, and when the tough days comes back again, I will always have today, the comforting memory of this 'Good Day' to fall back on.
Waking up from my reveries, I focus back on Max, my only daily companion these days, as he too, healing from his loss, enjoys the day.  His inquisitive nose intrigued by the pungent odour of last fall's decaying leaves, he decides to investigate further and scratches the ground with an awkward paw to uncover the newly grown fresh tender grass shoots, a welcomed sign of the summer to come.  The never ending circle of life.
Today is made of my yesterdays, and tomorrow is made of my today.

How to get over a death.