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Anxiety affects everyone on planet Earth, everywhere from San Jose, California to San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s a part of being alive. It’s part of the human experience. But, it doesn’t have to be. At least, not to the extent it plagues most humans.Thankfully, there are (many) ways to stop anxiety in its tracks!

I’d like to share with you 3 tried and tested methods for stopping anxiety that have brought immeasurable peace to my life: meditation, journaling, and stargazing.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

 

Sit Like A Yogi: Meditation

Meditation is my go-to strategy when feeling unbalanced. It may take a couple of sessions to notice the benefits fully, but it is totally worth the patience. I’ve been meditating since I was 18 (32 years old now) and it has greatly helped with overall mental health and managing anxiety. I like that you can meditate anywhere, anytime whether it’s lying awake at 3am in bed worrying about work or on an airplane to Hawaii with your family worried about getting to the hotel safely. Even better, it’s totally free.

The technique I’d like to share with you first has you repeat the two words (mantra), “I am” over and over in your head. When you lose focus, just return to the “I am” mantra. The goal is to interrupt the cycle of anxious thoughts and become one with the present moment in time. You’ll know you’ve entered a state of deep meditation when you are completely relaxed and at peace and do not feel bored nor do you feel compelled to watch the clock. [1]

Meditation can be somewhat challenging (but worth it!) in the beginning but gets much easier after a handful of sessions. You’ll notice that once you enter meditation each time it gets easier to go into and stay in the state of deep trance where you lose all concept of time.

This process varies from person to person. Persistence is the name of the game. Soon enough, you’ll get to the point where you can go from meditating for 1-2 minutes to 20-30 minutes. And before you know it, you’ll be a meditation pro.

Another important point: the more you meditate, the more tranquil and happy you’ll be in daily life outside of your meditation practice. It has a transcendent effect that becomes more profound with each meditation. This makes tackling responsibilities so much easier — career, family, life, mental health etc.

Bonus points: try doing some light yoga before meditation to relax the mind and body. Poses I love include: cobra, plow, shoulder stand, sit and reach, side bending twist, and back bend.

For a much more detailed explanation of meditation, check out the author/teacher Yogani. He has written many books including the one called “Deep Meditation” and also has a book on Yoga. Both resources are a fantastic place to start. I learned much of what I know from his books.

 

 

Record Your Thoughts: Journaling

Two months ago my life changed forever. How? I took up journaling!

I like journaling because it enables you to put your thoughts on paper in a coherent, organized fashion, which helps bring balance to the mind. Plus, doing so provides a powerful emotional release when you journal about anxiety provoking sensitive topics.

“There is no right or wrong way to journal. The most important part is that you express your thoughts and emotions.” [2]

Feel free to journal wherever, whenever. Take note: it’s often easier to journal at a certain time, ie. morning, afternoon, or evening and stick to that time of the day. That way you can maximize your chances of making journaling a habit. Also, feel free to use your phone for journaling.

Check out how I chose to structure my journal. Each day I strive to write a quick bit for each topic. Also, it took some trial and error to get to this point and admittedly, this is an evolving process of adding and subtracting categories.

Here’s my current journal layout. Notice mine includes several sections and goes beyond just listing what happened that day. Have fun and experiment.

Agenda: This is where you pick out what you’d like to get done for the day. For me, I like to do the following regularly: read, exercise, journal, practice self compassion, write hip hop verses, and program the subconscious mind. My favorite part is taking my red pen out and crossing off everything I accomplished at the end of the day.

Gratitude Include everything you are thankful for here. For me, this week it was meditation, healthy relationships, exercise, my clean and organized room, and a book I just finished called Think Straight.

Reflection Essays. For these, I like to pick something that went really well or not so well and shed light on the topic. Last night I journaled about self compassion and reflected on how I was proud of myself for exercising even when I didn’t feel like it.

Worries: Focus on what’s not going so well right now. I recommend writing as much as you’re comfortable with. Often writing things down is enough to calm down the anxiety quite a bit rather than letting the thoughts bounce around in your head.

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Goals Here’s your chance to ask yourself: if you could have anything, what would you want? Let your imagination run wild. Some popular categories taken from my life/journal include: Material (condo in Santa Monica), Contribution (ie. helping Breaking Taboo), Personal Development Goals (become a trained life coach/hypnotist), and Careers/Business/Economic Goals (make $75,000-$100,000 per year). Thanks to Tony Robbins for these categories! For best results, be sure to include pictures, which can be things like drawings or clippings from magazines. I have a proclivity for copying and pasting pictures onto word docs and printing them at FedEx.

Pick a journal (or multiple journals!) that looks appealing. I got a jet black journal from Staples with 256 pages that I have customized with loads of stickers. You can take it many steps further than me with drawings, art, markers, etc. Also, don’t feel limited to “writing conventionally.” If you feel compelled to, include poetry, songs, bullet journaling, etc. You have an artistic license to have fun!

 

 

Look Up At The Stars

If you’re ever stressed and it’s a clear night, step outside. The Universe awaits! [3] There’s nothing more relaxing and mind blowing than observing the infinite grandeur of the cosmos. It’s a humbling reminder that there are things way, way bigger than the human race and our planet Earth. It’s even more fun when you learn to spot the evening stars and constellations like Orion’s Belt or Vega or Altair.

Fun facts about the known Universe: there are 100 billion galaxies according to the Hubble Telescope and 200 billion trillion stars. And those are the conservative numbers. Isn’t that amazing! More than you can count!

Also, imagine what we don’t know. Is the Universe infinite? Are there infinite Universes? Is there life elsewhere in the cosmos? When you look beyond the Earth into the sky, your life is put into perspective and you realize it’s a profound miracle to be alive in this tiny paradise floating through space and time.

Bonus points: buy a (relatively) inexpensive telescope from Amazon. They retail around $100 and are totally worth the investment. Being able to see planets like Jupiter and Saturn is amazing! Celestron is a really good brand for beginners. Alternatively, find your nearest observatory and/or planetarium. The experience of seeing the stars through professional equipment is a gamechanger. If you’re ever in the San Francisco Bay Area (my backyard), check out the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland.

Wrapping It All Up

Are you ready to overcome your anxiety? I highly recommend meditation, journaling, and stargazing. They are life changing!

Finally: I have two questions for you? What method or methods resonated most? Also, what did I not cover that helps you alleviate anxiety?

Over and out, Timothy

 

~Timothy Salisbury

 

Timothy Salisbury is a freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys blogging and making electronic and hip hop music. He has personal experience with anxiety and brings his exuberance for mental health to the Breaking Taboo team.

 

 

 

Sources:

[1] Breath Meditation: A Great Way To Relieve Stress. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/breath-meditation-a-great-way-to-relieve-stress

[2] Wade, Danielle. How To Journal For Anxiety. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-journal-for-anxiety#journaling-tips

[3] Shu, Frank H. Universe https://www.britannica.com/science/universe