“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller
Have you ever noticed that resistance follows any change or new experience in life? You know what I’m talking about, those feelings of fear and anxiety that emerge when we’re about to do something new and unfamiliar. Whenever we step into new territory we get that fluttering feeling in our gut, and thoughts start swirling around in our head of all the bad things that could happen. I’m not talking about the fear that keeps us safe from the mugger in the alley or the bogey man under the bed. Certainly some fear is normal, healthy, and crucial for our survival. I’m talking about the fear that keeps us stuck in a bad place. The fear that keeps us from being the person we are a capable of becoming. For some reason, its human nature to project fear and anxiety onto even a healthy and desired change. Our mind and body will always try to put the brakes on as we pull away from our comfort zone. I know in my past I used to be petrified of taking any risk or making change. But once I learned that my anxiety was a normal and natural response to taking a big step, I could use it as a signal that I was growing and expanding. I now welcome anxiety and fear as a sign that I am reaching beyond my comfort zone, which is exactly how growth occurs. I have also learned how to manage my anxiety and channel it in a way that energizes and excites me. I want you to do the same so you can master your life and live up to your potential. Here are 15 essential ways to deal with anxiety as you begin building new, healthy habits and routines this year.
1. Realize there is no perfect choice
One way to make a life change more comforting is to accept that there is no perfect choice. Be flexible and open to grey areas. Not everything is black and white. Embrace a little experimentation and learning as you grow and get better.
2. Prepare and plan for the risk
We can’t eliminate all risks, but we can do our best to make them as calculated as possible. Do research and uncover what you need to know before taking a plunge into uncharted waters. Learn, prepare, and put a plan together to minimize the risk and uncertainty.
3. One step at a time
Develop realistic simple goals to get you started. Recognize what it will take to accomplish your changes but don’t get ahead of yourself. This is one obstacle I struggle with, as it’s discouraging to want to see your vision unfold immediately before you do the leg work. Keep your short-term objective in mind and take one step at a time.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu
4. Keep it balanced
Tend to all dimensions of life. Even if you are trying to make a specific change for better physical health, don’t neglect your financial security or spiritual health in the process. Keep a well-rounded lifestyle and this will keep you healthy and energized as you navigate the change.
5. Utilize your support system
Our environment can be a major support for healthy change. Enlist your friends, family, or other professional supports, such as a coach or therapist, for encouragement and inspiration.
6. Don’t forget to have fun
Why does making a change have to be a burden? Regularly do things you enjoy. Make time to enjoy life and reward yourself for a job well done. Spend time with people you appreciate and make time for pleasures and satisfying experiences along the way.
7. Laugh it off
It is so important to keep a positive perspective when we are trying to do something new and scary. No matter what happens it’s not the end of the world, so don’t get too serious about the results. Keep a sense of humor and be willing to laugh at yourself along the way.
8. Keep it funky fresh
There is nothing more interesting to our mind than novelty. Novelty is an important factor in keeping our mind engaged and interested in what we’re doing. So, find ways to mix up your routine and keep things fresh as you pursue your goals and lifestyle changes. Don’t let things get dull and boring.
9. Relax and let go
Don’t forget about the real essentials of managing anxiety – relaxation techniques! Use relaxation techniques throughout your day. Take a deep breath and say mentally “let go.” Stay present and in the moment as you move toward your intentions.
10. Don’t be a “Negative Nancy”
Why do people give-up? They start thinking negatively and get a case of the F – its! Look for the opportunity instead of the negative. Don’t be self-critical and beat yourself up. This negativity will only discourage you. You are in control of your attitude and motivation.
11. Reign in your imagination
Irrational fear and anxiety comes from our imagination running wild. We can start to worry about all the terrible and horrible things that could happen and end up being paralyzed by fear. There are no monsters under your bed. You’re not a child anymore so get control of your imagination!
“Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” – Dan Zadra
12. What’s the worst that could happen?
This is a great questions to ask when you start to feel anxiety and fear. For many things we intend to do, the worst thing that will usually happen is not that bad. If is doesn’t kill us we can get through it, right? If the worst thing that could happen is something you aren’t prepared to deal with, maybe you should plan and prepare with a little more detail.
13. Accept your mistakes
Don’t expect perfection as you embark on a new path. There will be mistakes and obstacles along the way. Instead of dwelling on the mistakes, accept them and learn from them.
14. List worries and problem solve
Get a piece of paper and make two columns. On one side make a list of all the worries and concerns you have right now. One the other side, write down what you can do about them. If you have a solution, take care of your worries and check them off the list. If you don’t have any solutions refer back to number 9!
15. Choose to be courageous
Sometimes the only way to destroy fear is to go through it. Choose to do something that scares you. Practicing bravery and courage is probably the best way to develop it. Speak up when you wouldn’t usually speak up, or take on the responsibility you usually avoid. Simply put, start to do what scares you! When it comes to dealing with fear and anxiety it takes practice, but when we begin to deal with our fears we can take control of our life. Your fear will shrink as your intention to live life to the fullest gets bigger!