One of the things that can raise our anxiety is how we choose to think about our problems. In our modern culture we see our stressors as bad and something to be avoided. Previous generations took the position that our adversities are things that teach us life lessons and make us stronger. So let me encourage us today to examine the circumstances we are in and begin to ask “what can I learn about myself from this?” How can I use these stressors to make me a better person? By doing this I can make what was causing me anxiety into something that gives me strength.
When we spend a lot of time watching the news or on social media. We can get caught up in focusing on how bad the world is. Worry becomes easy. Meditating on positive messages can help redirect our energy. Take control of your thoughts and spend time focusing them on something like: “I am in charge of what I think about and today I am choosing thankfulness” or “I have the power to make a positive difference in the world” Find a message that aligns with your beliefs and take 3 mental breaks of 3 minutes each today- focusing on the message. You'll gain energy and lose anxiety.
One of my favorite truths is “the opposite of addiction is connection.” Social connection, in particular, emotionally authentic relationships, is the most important component to wellness and recovery. During times of high stress some of us may rely on alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings of anxiety. If this is true for you then I encourage you to dive deeper into your close friendships and relationships rather than use a substance for coping. Make a plan of the people you're going to call and then strategically connect with them throughout the week. Sharing your fears, worries, and concerns with a friend will help you feel more connected and less stressed.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center