Thoughtful Thursday: Why You Feed Anxiety & How to Stop It

Check out another Thoughtful Thursday post from Christine Hassler, helping you to tackle your anxieties so that you can be calm, collected, and confident in your life decisions.  Are you anxious about traveling alone?  Traveling abroad in general?  Read on!

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Guest blog post by Christine Hassler

Do you ever feel anxious?  I suspect your answer is yes – you may even be experiencing it right now. You’re not alone. One of the biggest things that I hear quarter-lifers complain about is anxiety.  And I totally get it, because it often feels like there is so much at stake during this period of life.  Between sorting out career paths, navigating matters of the heart and staying financially afloat, it’s no wonder you are feeling anxious. But wouldn’t it be nice to navigate your life without the added discomfort of feeling anxiety?

Here’s the good news: it is 100% possible to ease and actually eliminate anxiety by being PRESENT. I guarantee that if you are feeling anxious, it is because your thoughts are drifting towards the future. The dictionary defines anxiety as: “A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties; and, a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.” Anxiety is the physiological response to mind’s temptation to think about things that have not happened yet. It is impossible to be anxious if you are fully in the present moment.  Try it and I am certain you will find that anytime you experience anxiety it is because your mind is anticipating some future event over which you feel you have no control.

I understand that staying fully present is difficult, especially when we feel like there is so much to figure out.  But when our minds are constantly in figuring-it-out mode, our intuition becomes muted.  To turn up the volume of our inner voice and feel more peace, we have to turn down the volume of the anticipatory thinking that produces anxiety.

Releasing anxiety requires practice since most of us are in the bad habit of checking out of the here and now. But here is more good news: each and every moment offers another opportunity to practice being present! How can you practice being present? Begin by tuning in to your breath. Focusing on your breathing is the easiest way back to the now. Also, become an observer of each moment. Notice the sights, sounds and sensations that are occurring around and inside of you. Be attentive to the activities you are engaging in throughout the day. For instance, instead of using your time in the shower to plan your day, actually BE in the experience of the shower: enjoy the warm water cascading over your body, smell the soap and feel your fingers massaging your scalp as you wash your hair. The present moment is abundant with things to focus if you commit to redirect your awareness and stop letting anxiety rob you of it!

Physical reminders of the now are also helpful. Wear a certain piece of jewelry or a rubber band around your wrist if jewelry isn’t your thing to symbolize the present. Each time you feel anxious look at the object and feel it on your body. Tuning into your physical body sensations such as how the chair you are sitting on feels is another way to RSVP “yes” to the invitation of the present moment.

Additionally, I caution you from buying into the belief that if you figure out what is next for you, you will cure your anxiety. Although it may temporarily feel better to have a plan, consistently trying to plan everything keeps you in future-focused thinking and creates a pattern of “when, then” thinking. Thus, anytime anxiety or worry comes up, you will again be looking to do or plan something as a quick fix, which perpetuates abandoning the here and now. Set your goals, take steps toward them and then accept what is right here, right now.

You can alleviate your feelings of anxiety without having to know what is next for you. The truth is none of us really know what the future holds – even if we think we do. Five minutes from now is just a prediction. The truth is only in the present moment.

Now on those occasions when your mind does wander into the future, there is no need to give yourself an “F” in presence. Be aware and directive of the type of future you are forecasting. Many of us create limiting and even negative futures in our heads. One of my favorite pieces of advice is, “You might as well win in your own fantasies.” So if you are going to look into your own mental crystal ball, do some redecorating so it looks like a future you’d actually like to live in!

Love from your quarter-life coach,

Christine

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About the Author:

Christine Hassler left her successful job as a Hollywood agent at 25 to pursue a life she could be passionate about . . . but it did not come easily. After being inspired by her own unexpected challenges and experiences, she realized her journey was indeed her destination. In 2005, she wrote the first guide book written exclusively for young women, entitled 20 Something 20 Everything. Christine’s second book, The 20 Something Manifesto written for men and women stems from her experience coaching twenty-something’s.

Today, she supports individuals as a Life Coach helping clients discover the answers to the questions: “Who Am I, What do I want, and How do I get it?” As a professional speaker, Christine leads seminars and workshops to audiences around the country. She has spoken to over 10,000 college students as well as to conferences and corporations about generational diversity. Christine has appeared as an expert on The Today Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, E!, Style and PBS, as well as various local television and radio shows, speaking about life issues and “Expectation Hangovers®” – a phenomenon she identified and trademarked.

Christine is the spokesperson for Zync from American Express and the key resource for their Quarterlife Program which empowers young people to take control of their finances. She also created a life balance curriculum for the Leadership Institute and is a member of Northwestern University’s Council of 100.  Www.christinehassler.com

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