Life is a whirlwind. Kids with changing schedules, 10 hour road trips to family functions, running a start up company, living in a fixer upper, etc. These are just a few of the things we are facing in this house.
And I know you have busy lives too – we live in a fast pasted society. Expectations for ourselves and others are high. Social media fills our minds with things that we should be doing and things we should have when really it’s a little unattainable and unrealistic.
So let me share a little about my journey towards decreasing my anxiety and worry in this crazy world.
It used to be that I couldn’t sleep. I worried about my home and my appearance way too much. I was stressed out about life, schedules, and get togethers. My shoulders were always tight. Life was not enjoyable. It was more about making it through the day than anything else.
Some of these patterns were caused by genetics (nature) while some of them were caused by bad habits and lack of discipline (nurture).
To break this cycle I’ve had to work hard, follow through on good advice and grow in humility. So here are some tips to help you if you are like me.
I hated hearing that in order to be a healthy person you needed to get 8 hours of sleep. I wanted health. It was almost an idol for me. But the problem was I just couldn’t shut off my mind.
Desperate I went to a neurologist for help. She told me that I needed a routine. I needed to go to bed around the same time every night and get up around the same time. I needed to avoid screen time before bed, and I needed to create a peaceful dim lit environment for sleep. And although these things were helpful it was more of a problem with my mind.
2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ. The concept of controlling your thoughts was completely foreign to me. How could one control the thoughts flowing through your head?
Fortunately, a friend shared something I could do to work at this.
“While you are laying in bed imagine a whiteboard in front of your face. And imagine all your thoughts are sentences on the board. Now try and erase them off. Push them off the board completely. They can float in space off the board but you can only focus on your clean white board. Anytime a thought comes onto your board invasion yourself cleaning them off.”
For me this was a game changer. Finally I figured out what it meant to take your thoughts captive. It means not letting them control you and keep you awake. It meant I had the power to shut out my thoughts and finally get some sleep.
But here is a disclaimer; when I have nights of sleeplessness due to stress or a nursing baby there comes a point when I need intervention. If I get too run down I know I’m not a safe person. I need sleep to watch my girls and keep them safe.
So when I get to that point I take an over-the-counter sleep aid. The only negative side effect for me is needing two cups of coffee the next morning to clear the fog.
Some natural remedies are using lavender essential oil directly on your skin or in a diffuser in your room. Calm Tea has also helped me sleep when my legs are aching from pregnancy or a big workout. The magnesium in the tea helps sooth those restless legs and allow me to sleep restfully.
And the last sleep tip is a bit of a strange one that I discovered when pregnant. I listened to hypnobirth CD’s to help me relax during childbirth. But it’s so weird, they actually help me out now as well. They were all about intentionally calming down.
I still try and lay comfortably, practice deep breathing, and allow myself to go deeper and deeper into a peaceful state. Sometimes I envision myself walking down stairs and with each stair I am more at peace. Finally I get into a chamber where I am so comfortable and safe I can’t do anything else but drift off to sleep.
Yes I’m a hippie.
So now that we’ve discussed sleep lets talk about some other tips and I’ll be brief.
For me, drinking only one caffeinated beverage a day in the morning is all I can handle. If I have more I am shaky and a little strung out.
Living a less busy life has also helped with this. It’s important for me to cut out some of the extra since my life with little ones and a start up business is already really full. Sometimes I have to let things go (like the laundry or a blog post) and say no to good things.
Now onto worry. Who could not worry when life is so uncertain? After years of allowing myself to worry I had to make thankfulness a practice to turn the direction of my thoughts.
Instead of thinking about all the worries in my life I literally had to stop myself and replace my thought with something I was thankful for. I’ve done this until it has become a habit. I had to put reminders around my house or in my car to practice thankfulness. Now it is more of a habit than worrying is.
Along with all my issues pain was one of them. I would stress and worry so much it became a physical condition. My neck and shoulders would ache all day long. My hip was always in a knot. I lived my life in pain. And although chiropractic and exercise has really helped me so has something else.
When I was going to college at Southern Oregon University I took a Death and Dying class. The teacher was a white haired hippie that was a little out there. But one class she taught us about pain. She had us all lay our heads on our desk and close our eyes. She walked us through our body and had us relax each part of it. Then she had us focus on areas that hurt. She told us to let the pain spread though our bodies and release it.
It was weird but it worked. Now when I cut my finder or stub my toe, I don’t hold onto the pain and focus on that one area that hurts. I visualize it spreading through my body and letting it go. Try it and it might just work for you too.
Deep Blue by Doterra is also wonderful for those deep tissue pains.
Okay that’s all I’ve got for now. A book that has helped me with anxiety and worry in the past and I will frequently reference is My Name is Hope by John Mark Comer. You may find it helpful as well.
And although you probably think I’ve got lots of issues, and your right, I hope you can take away something that will help you. That is always my goal.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.