“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”
– Mark Twain
Anxiety affects nearly 40 million adults in the United States.
Suffering from anxiety is like having your brain dialed in to a radio station that only you can hear, but instead of badass hits from the 80s, it’s playing dooms day scenarios, dire warnings, worst-case scenarios, and imagined catastrophes—a soundtrack that robs the joy and beauty of the here and now.
It’s human nature to worry, and while low levels are healthy (pressure to eat right and exercise), it can quickly spiral out of control if not managed properly.
Some people learn to live with their anxiety—a constant companion and unwelcome guest silently stealing the present moment because they’re too busy living in the past or future.
Anxiety doesn’t just feel bad; it’s insidious and robust of our most precious moments.
By not putting worry in check, these feelings begin to infiltrate every part of our daily life.
It clouds our judgment and holds us back from choices that might otherwise improve our lives.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) ends every meeting with the serenity prayer. It goes like this:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Some people in recovery are literally living minute-to-minute to get a handle on their addiction and stress, and the serenity prayer helps their decision-making when challenging situations come their way, but it’s also a great thing to say to yourself when consumed with worry.
Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to change your situation—if you can, take action despite the feelings of worry, and you’ll see a tremendous improvement in your mental space.
Worry can also be your mind’s way of telling you you need to confront something, and taking the initiative to resolve your problems may be all you need to make it go away.
If there’s nothing you can do about your situation, that can be a much harder skill to develop—the ability to let go of worry and anxiety.
“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” – Wayne Dyer
It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Here are a few tips to stop worry and anxiety from stealing your present moment:
- Put Down Your Phone: Our phones are addictive. It can be compulsive to check our phones constantly, and this heightens our anxieties. Phones remove us from the present and
- Meditate: Meditation has numerous benefits, but a calmer mind and better control over impulses take the cake. Meditating is the process of putting on your mental armor for the day.
- Exercise: Stress, worry, and anxiety are all forms of energy that need a release, and physical exertion is like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker. You don’t need to be an Ironman, either. Going for consistent walks every day for 20-30 minutes can dramatically improve your state of mind.
- Eat Well: You are what you eat, and that includes the nutrition your body needs to maintain mental health. Hormones are made up of healthy fats (salmon, eggs, avocado), and if your body isn’t getting enough, this can cause a hormonal imbalance. Our bodies can’t function properly on sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eat clean—your calm mind will thank you.
Adopting these practices will improve your worry and anxiety, but remember that results take time.
The idea is to make lifestyle changes over the long term, and the only way to do that is to stay consistent.
Learn to live a life of long walks, short glimpses of social media, and tasty plates of salmon, and you’ll find the serenity in your heart and mind you’ve been seeking.