Here are some quick wins for you if you are in a difficult place. They will take two weeks to really work, which in the world of chronic anxiety is lightning speed!
1. Stop wearing a watch unless it is utterly essential
If you don’t have a busy schedule you don’t need to constantly be aware of the time and if you have a mobile you have access to the time if you really need it. Checking the time constantly keeps you thinking of some future event and moves the focus of your attention away from the present moment.
For most of us, for most of the time, the present moment is overwhelmingly good. The future is always unpredictable and full of potential threats, so it becomes a source of anxiety. leave the watch in a drawer.
2. Stop drinking caffeine
Caffeine from tea, coffee and various soft drinks promotes anxiety by releasing adrenaline or epinephrine as it is also known. This promotes a fight or flight response in the body promoting alertness and suppressing sleep.
The effects of caffeine are prolonged and it takes two weeks for the body to return to normal.
3. Reduce your news consumption
If you have every wondered why the news is full of bad news then take a look at this link:
This post explains to marketeers how using negative superlatives such as ‘never’ and ‘worst’ outperforms positive superlatives such as ‘always’ and ‘best’.
Each newspaper competes with every other newspaper for the worst possible news. The news media scours the globe for bad news. Viewed through the lens of the news, the world soon becomes a scary place which feeds into our personal beliefs. We all have enough challenges and limitations in our lives without adopting ones that are served up to us by the media.
Discovering bad news is a survival trait that we are programmed for. Our ancestors ‘needed’ to know whether there was plague in a neighbouring village and those that were motivated to move by this bad news would have been the ones that survived. Now that we are no longer in a life or death environment this morbid fascination with bad news works against us.
Ask yourself when was the last time that something you learned from the news changed your life or even, when has anything you read in a newspaper materially benefited you in any way?
We feel we need to ‘keep up with current affairs’ but as someone that stopped reading newspapers several years ago, I still find that there are so many people reading the news all around me that I am aware of the major news anyway and do you ‘really’ need to know about the rest?
Here are a couple of links that may help you to see all of this in a newer perspective:
Why no news is good news from the Guardian
4. Detox from the TV and if you can, stop watching it altogether
The TV is a parody of reality. I agree that some programmes are educational but the information they provide is largely available through internet research with the difference that you are in control of what you learn and where you go to learn it. Enough to satisfy your knowledge without the baggage of knowing intimately who is going to get kicked out of the Big Brother room next!
5. Digital detox
I think that there is far too much emphasis on how carrying mobile devices is bad. In itself it isn’t bad. What is bad is the significance we place on the messages we receive. We fail to filter them and so they continually grab our attention dragging us into some unpredictable future event from the overwhelmingly good present moment.
There are a number of strategies that help such as turning off notifications but if we need to respond instantly then we need to find the time to ourselves.
Here are some strategies:
- Put all of your devices in a drawer on one day over a weekend
- Put all of your devices away after a certain time in the evening
- Filter out notifications so you only get the ones that really matter
- Go on a digital detox holiday
To read about my recent solo retreat and digital detox go here: