Preface: you will notice that I intentionally used the word “working” in my title. I wanted this piece to be very open and honest; I am no expert, nor do I want to pretend to be. My intention is to share my own struggle and how I’m learning how to cope with it every day with the simple hope that someone may read this and find some benefits of their own.
Most days, I am my worst enemy. I think that most people that suffer from anxiety can resonate with that statement. Fighting against your own mind on a daily basis can be one of the most defeating feelings there is. I mean, if you can’t control your own mind, what can you control?
This is my struggle: the inability to relinquish control. Control of my mind, control of my surrounds, control of my future; I aim to try to control them all. Because if I have everything “under control” then there should be nothing to trigger my anxiety… right?
Wrong. In reality, it has taken a lot of self-reflection and deep conversations with the people around me to truly recognize that my thirst for control is exactly what is driving some of my highest anxiety moments.
And at the end of the day, I could spend all of my energy changing all these external factors in my life (my job, my environment, my food, my fitness) and I would still find myself in the same battle because these are not the problem. The problem, is me… the classic self-sabotage.
Now please know that I do not intend for that statement to be self-deprecating in any way. In fact, I find it to be honorable – and that is the key. For years I have been my own worst enemy; not because of my anxiety, but because of my perception of my anxiety. I have passively allowed myself to chase the highs and dodge the lows. I accepted that my life was going to be a long journey of learning how to live with certain mental hurdles and I was ready for the challenge. I was not going to hide from my anxiety but rather find ways to tackle it head- on.
It wasn’t until this past year that I was finally able to see that this “fight not flight” mentality was actually hurting me rather than helping me. Yes, I have found some great ways to help confront my anxiety (and I am loving sharing them with all of you) but what I hadn’t found was a way to actually develop a new perspective on my life.
I was still spending so much mental energy focusing on the negatives in my life and getting caught up stressing over factors that I could not control.
What my mind truly needed was a reset… some time to learn how to be more present and mindful. I needed to start fresh by adapting to a more positive mindset; one that highlights appreciation and teaches me how to embrace life. By recognizing how amazing my life is when I let go of this control, I am hoping that I can find more happiness in my daily life and avoid being so bogged down by stress and negativity.
So! *Drum roll please* I have come up with a plan: one month of focused mindfulness. I am actually going to put into practice the act of training my brain to be more mindful and therefore more positive. To learn how to appreciate every day, even those that may seem uneventful. AND I am going to keep a daily journal so that I can share my experiences with all of you.
Now just like any new routine, I wanted to ensure that I did not take on more than I knew I would be able to commit to. The goal of this exercise is meant to help me succeed, not set me up to fail. For this reason, I am going to be sticking to a pretty straight forward list of goals for my initial month. Once I can get myself fully committed to these new habits, I will work towards adding more in the future!
30-Days of Mindfulness
- No more snooze button!When my alarm goes off in the morning, it is time to start my day. Having some time to myself before work is something that I value, so I am going to make sure I commit to making it happen.
- Create a calmer commute. Whether it’s listening to my favorite songs, learning from a new podcast or audiobook, or taking some time to reflect on what I am thankful for in life, I am no longer going to let external factors consume my commute (like worrying about traffic, time, or other drivers).
- Find time to reflect on the positives in my life. What am I thankful for? What makes me happy? During this challenge, I want to try to discover more about my values and what brings me satisfaction. Focused meditation throughout my day can help steer my mind back to where it should be. For some tips on how to create your own gratitude journal, check out Emily’s post: My Gratitude Journal
- Drink more water. Always. My body and mind will love me for it.
- Stay active. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a workout. This could be as simple as taking my dogs for a walk or doing a quick yoga flow. My goal is to do something “active” for at least 30-mins every day in order to create a stronger connection between my body and my mind.
- Take a moment before bed. During my month-long reset, I am going to take a few minutes every night to write down my thoughts. How did my day feel? What worked? Where did I struggle? A moment of reflection before bed to help empty my mind and get ready for a new day.
If anyone reading this has experienced similar struggles in their life and are interested in joining me for this challenge, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Stay tuned for weekly highlights from my journal as I take on this month-long challenge.