I had one of these moments last week. Sometimes in all of my comings and goings, I have a very hard time slowing down or taking a moment to unplug. Well, the world definitely got to be way too big for me last week. It was as if all of my sensory outputs had been turned all the way up and I was just taking everything in. It was overwhelming to say the least, to the point where it was literally hard for me to breath. Yea, this girl had an anxiety attack. Thankfully they don’t happen to me often, so when the do occur I know well enough to do some investigating to weed out the source of the anxiety.
So how does one make the world small when it gets to be too big? How do you shut things out without shutting down? Well, I have a couple of recommendations that have helped me in the past…
Take 10 slow, deep, big breaths. I prefer to do this some place where I can be alone, like literally by myself. Bathroom stall, closet, whatever, some place that is physically small and where I’m not distracted from the simple act of just breathing. I breathe in a big deep breath and focus on the sensation of inhaling air into my lungs. Then I slowly push that air out as I exhale, and as I exhale I envision myself exhaling whatever may be pressing on me. I think about breathing in the calm and breathing out the worry. Ten deep breaths, throughout the day, helps to recenter and brings your attention to something you can control – your breathing.
Get outside and just stare. When I say stare, I mean just find a place to sit and do nothing but observe the bigger picture. This might sound contradictory – after all sitting out there can remind you of how BIG the world is, but actually if the world itself is SO big, then you in fact are tiny. As are your problems and issues. There are far bigger things going on in this world than what may stress us daily. Sit outside, spend a little quality time with nature. Stare at the sky, count the stars, breath in the flowers, feel the warmth of the sun. There is so much going on in this great big world, so many things to be in awe of, so many things that are pure and good in their natural state. Cultivate an appreciation for this and allow yourself the time to just “be” in it.
Shut off and shut down the inconsequential…namely social media. You ever notice how many folks spend a lot of time looking at or playing with their phones? I always have/had my phone with me, so this was a big task to tackle and it made a HUGE difference. We are so connected to the internet and other forms of technology and social media. Realistically speaking, how much of it is truly pertinent to our every day lives and well being? Very little. So I began my weekend wind down on Wednesday. I put my phone on silent and left it on silent for the rest of the week. That was my Phase 1. Phase 2 came on Thursday when I began to purposefully not take my phone with me when I went to grab some water or fix dinner. By Friday I had turned the phone off completely while at work. Saturday I began deleting certain apps from my phone (the clutter on the iPhone screens caused me to be overly anxious – sensory overload) and then removed notifications from the apps I decided to keep. I signed out of Facebook, didn’t tweet, and say sayanora to instagram. Shut down Saturday. I focused on doing the things I wanted to and needed to do, without worrying about the task list of things to still be done or checking into social media every five minutes to see what other people where doing or to tell them what I was doing. I stopped looking at my phone, I left it alone and paid attention to what was right in front of me. I can’t tell you how good that felt.
Exercise. Now you know I wasn’t going to end a list about wellness without talking about the benefits of a little bit of physical exercise. Sunday I went and had a great, just GREAT workout. My Oly coach keeps mentioning he notices small improvements here and there, and what’s more I FEEL those improvements happening as I’m doing my lifts. I had a great workout session, broke a really good sweat, and just took my time. I wasn’t worried about putting up more weight or moving faster, I just focused on each lift individually and took the necessary time to break in-between sets. Basically I had a workout where I didn’t mentally stress myself in trying to do more, but I physically challenged myself to just be BETTER and perform well.
Happy Monday, and I hope this helps someone out there to make the world a lil smaller, one breath at a time.