You will not get anywhere staying comfortable. You must get out of your comfort zone, and face your fears to reach your potential and grow. You can choose two paths. Stay comfortable, and be unfulfilled, and unhappy with your situation, or face your fears, and get the things you want out of life. We let fear suppress our growth, but that isn’t the best choice. You got to look at this from a long-term situation. Comfort may give someone relief in the short-term, but won’t make one happy in the long run. Facing your fears, and getting out of your comfort zone can lead to happiness, fulfilling your goals and potential in the long run. Yes, fears are scary, but they will eventually fade once you overcome them, but misery, unhappiness, being stuck, and not growing to your full potential will last the rest of your life. Think about that.
With Mindfulness practice, you can learn not to let negative emotions consume you. Anger, fear, sadness, greed, jealousy, envy, anxiety, loneliness are just a few of the many negative emotions an individual has in their lifetime. We can not stop from feeling these emotions, but we can learn to control how much they affect us. You will get sad, annoyed, upset etc., but it is about how much you let those emotions build to where it causes distress and misery.
Whenever you feel any of these emotions. Take a step back, sit with the emotion, accept what you are feeling, and remember the emotions will eventually fade. The first step is to become aware of the emotions you are feeling. Awareness is important. After becoming aware. Identify what is upsetting you. You should try not to attach any positive, or negative emotions to the feelings. Try to look at the situation in a non judgmental way. When you are able to do that. You will be able to see the reality of the situation.
We tend to attach negative thoughts to these feelings, which creates more negativity, misery, discomfort etc,. We also react, rather that stepping back, which can lead to guilt and regret, and that creates more tension. It is all about controlling how much these emotions affect you. You may not have the power to stop these emotions from happening, but a mindful approach can help you stabilize the emotions where it doesn’t get out of hand.
Try not to rush through things throughout the day. Focus your energy on the task you are doing. Focusing on what you are going to do next leads to anxiety. Remember things will get done eventually. Just immerse yourself in the activity one is doing at the moment. No matter how dull you may think it is. Immerse yourself with your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and behaviors in the present moment. You can always learn something new with any experience. Living in the moment is when you are living. Embrace it. It will lead to peace, calm, and relaxation of the mind and body.
Many people say they don’t have time to to practice mindfulness meditation. I say one can spend at least 5 minutes doing this activity. People don’t want to do it, because it is difficult to sit still and calm the mind. It is much easier letting the mind wander, allowing anxiety and depression to creep in. It is much easier letting negative thoughts consume the mind. It is harder to train, and rewire the mind to focus on the present. To see things in a more positive light. To accept things for what it is. To let thoughts flow through you. This is why people don’t have the time for this practice.
I don’t believe one doesn’t have five minutes to spare. This is about your peace of mind. Just like when a doctor says to rest. You will most likely do so, which will halt your regular activities, but this is just as important as treating a physical injury. Mental health is very important and can be crippling, so you should do what you can to be mentally healthy. We disregard our mental health, but if our mental health isn’t treated with care, than it will spill into physical health problems, and you will have a whole other set of problems. I am sure none of you like to be anxious or depressed. Yes, there are triggers and episodes that will be out of your control, but mindfulness meditation will help you cope and handle it better, and have you bounce back quicker.
Instead of being depressed and anxious 24/7, 365 days a year. It can be reduced to a couple days/weeks a year. The emotions will not consume your life as much. So you can see why it is important to practice mindfulness and calm the mind. You have to remember what benefits you in the end. Being anxious and depressed doesn’t, so it is best to find ways to reduce these emotions.
There are specific activities, suggested by Achor and others in positive psychology, which tend to make people happier and Dr. Pierson suggested picking one and committing to it daily, as a “happiness workout.”
- Meditate for eight minutes a day, which helps rewire your brain for greater happiness, less stress and improved immune functioning.
- Journal for two minutes about a positive experience you’ve had.
- Look forward to something. Make a plan for something positive.
- Consciously do something kind for someone. Write a positive note, email someone you care about, or do volunteer work.
- Surround yourself with positivity. Put up inspirational quotes, hang pictures of people you care about, or go outside for 20 minutes.
- Exercise. Even ten minutes of exercise daily can have a positive impact on your mood.
- Push past your comfort zone. The more you do something novel, the happier you are. Experience new places, new food; take a class in something.
- Spend money on experiences, not stuff. Spending money on activities, especially involving others, produces positive emotions which are more meaningful and last longer than those created by buying things.
- Exercise a “signature strength.” When people use a skill they have, it generally lifts their mood. Research suggests that using a character strength, such as creativity, curiosity, humor, judgment, or kindness, creates even greater happiness.
- Express gratitude. Write down three things for which you are grateful daily.
- Allow yourself to be imperfect. The happiest among us are those who know perfection is un-obtainable and who allow themselves to be “good enough.”
- Learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings. Negative emotions are a part of life. Learn safe ways to release them or sit with them, knowing you can stand it. Over time, your ability to withstand day-to-day negative emotions will expand.
- Expand your sources of support. Connection with others is crucial to physical and emotional well-being. Even brief encounters with others—an email, a smile, an exchange of a few words, can help both parties feel more alive and happy.
- Practice and make it easy to do the good stuff. As you develop new habits, you rewire the brain. Put the desired actions as close as possible to the path of least resistance, and make it harder to do the things you don’t want to do.
Mindfulness activities to brighten up your day
- Being Mindful of your morning routine-Immerse yourself in all the activities one does in the morning
- Sit still and relax-try not to worry about all the things that need to be done, it will get done eventually, just take a step back, and calm the mind
- Light some incense
- Think positive thoughts before you walk out the door
- Look at inspirational, positive quotes to start your day
- Journal writing
-Write down whatever comes to mind after a good night sleep
-Write down things you appreciate
-Write down positive things about yourself, your life, and your job
-Write down your goals for the day, or even the future
- Take a walk outside, or take a couple of minutes to enjoy the view from your window
- Read, or do an activity that may stimulate the mind
- Look at inspirational, positive quotes to brighten your day
Try your best not to rush out the door in the morning. How you start your morning will reflect the rest of your day. If you are rushing. You may want to get up a bit earlier, so you have time to do these activities, and relax the mind before heading out to the stressful and busy world. It is important to start your day right.
- Do not fight, or push them away:
-It permeates negativity, negative self-talk.
- Ruminate over the thoughts and emotions one is feeling during your episode.
- Gain knowledge of the triggers, and the causes of your anxiety/depression.
- Accept the feelings for what it is:
-it sucks, but part of life, and who you are.
-Try not to ask why questions-why me? Why can’t this go away?
-It solves nothing, and promotes negativity.
-Your life does not suck, because of this disorder.
-You are not awful, because of this disorder.
- Remember that the emotions/feelings will fade.
- Emotions come in waves/they are not stagnant.
- There will be sunshine again.
- And it will pour again, but that is okay.
- Accept that anxiety and depression are part of who you are.
- Accept that it will never go away.
- Accept that anxiety/depression episodes are out of your control.
- But remember, You can gain power back by accepting it in your life, and learning how to cope with the symptoms better.
- Knowledge is power-learn triggers, causes, and how you can handle episodes better.
- Self-Awareness is power-Focus the energy on oneself. Do not put blame outward. You can’t control outside forces, but you can control your thoughts, and how you handle things from within.
- And always remember that it is okay to have anxiety or depression.
-You are not wrong.
-You are not awful.
-You are not weird.
- Acceptance is vital-Acceptance of oneself, of reality, of your disorder cultivates inner peace, happiness, and relief.
As the great Carl Rogers said in the quote below, I am a believer in confronting struggles, not avoiding. As I mentioned many times before, avoiding solves nothing, just cultivates more problems. I am not a fan of medication-as it is a form of avoiding/masking- unless the disorder is severe, and dangerous.
Anxiety and Depression control much of our lives, but we can learn to take control back by confronting the root of the problem, and figuring out what triggers the emotions, and how we can be able to manage it better in the future. Anxiety and Depression come in waves. There will be good days, and bad days. It isn’t something that will go away, but it can be managed better. It is hard to get out of the turmoil of sadness, and worry on the bad days, but acknowledging your struggle can be a start, and then you can move on to figuring out ways to help alleviate the emotions. It will still be there, but more manageable, sometimes it may get you out of that state of mind.
It is always good to ruminate over the episode once it is over, or on the good days, because that is when you are thinking more clearly. Maybe think about what triggered the episode, what the outcome was, and what could have been done differently- thoughts/perceptions/behaviors. It won’t stop another episode from happening, but it can help build coping strategies the next time you feel anxious, or depressed.
Just remember that it is okay to feel depressed and anxious. Try not to get down on yourself for something that is out of your control. It is all part of the whirlwind that is called life.
As someone who struggles with Social Anxiety. I think it is important to find ways to overcome your fears. It is not an easy process, but it is very important that we try to find ways to do so. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. It can be something small, and then gradually make your way up to the thing that cultivates anxiety and fear. Exposure Therapy is used to help an individual with a phobia/fear to help them overcome the fear.
Avoiding the the situation that scares you will only allow it to become pervasive and ubiquitous. It will force you to continue avoiding it, and many things similar to the situation. If you face it, you will realize that it isn’t as scary as you thought it was, and you will gain a sense of self-confidence and personal growth. This will help you to open yourself up to other opportunities that may be fearful for you. If you can do that, then you can do other things as well. You can rewire your brain to not see fear, but to find strength in unknown/scary opportunities.
The more you avoid, the more you fear. This is why it is important to expose yourself to unknown/fearful/anxiety provoking situations. From experience with facing my own fears. You will feel much better about yourself when you do. As I mentioned, you should start with small things, then build up, because it is a process, and not something one can just dive into, unless you are up for the challenge.