3 tips to re-focus and shake off anxiety

"Can you believe it's almost ____, where did the month go?" has been a constant topic among friends. Anxiety creeps in whenever we feel expectations don't meet reality, and there's nothing like the stall of momentum to fuel the craving of escape.

We just spent time, intentionally or not, setting expectations of what this year would hold. Now seven weeks in, we're wondering, "what was my intention again and where did all that time go?"  

Three things help me re-focus and shake off anxiety: 

River Cabaan, Hannah Shea Photography

Image by Hannah Shea

1. Daily rituals

Why it works: slows down the pace to ground in the moment.

We talk a lot about rituals, and that's because we all have them. Bringing awareness to what creates comfort, eases anxiety, feels like home, or connects you to others is often expressed through ritual.

Whether it's a morning cup of coffee, journaling, Facetiming family, or a long bath and face mask, our human instinct is to find moments of ceremony in everyday life. How cool is that? 

Here are some of my daily rituals: 

AM Rituals

  • Wake up, no phone for at least an hour unless urgent
  • Try not to snooze, get up at first alarm
  • Put on the kettle for two things - big mason jar of lemon water, coffee 
  • Spend 5+ minutes making a delicious cup of pour over coffee
  • Sit down at my desk and journal freely until I fill 2+ pages
  • Write down #1 thing to accomplish today- it can take 10-15 mins to arrive at. I decide before checking email - it's rare to have a new message the derails the whole day.

 

Build your own ritual toolkit, shop nowDaily rituals for calming anxiety

Chiara Zonca Image

Image by Chiara Zonca

2. Fresh air, sweat, and movement.

Why it works: we store emotion in our bodies, movement releases it.

Have you ever done a workout that shifted your attitude? Whether you get "runners high" or just feel better after movement, recognizing how exercise releases anxiety helps connect us to the power of our body and mind. 

"Workouts" can have a narrow lens. Instead, follow your intuition on what your body needs. Somedays the gym or a long run sounds too exhausting, but there's an urge to shake off the daily stress. Movement is still a great way to do that.

Expand past "workout" and experiment with other outlets like dance, yoga, climbing, walking, or stretching. The opportunity to move is everywhere. The goal is not always to "get fit", although that's an added benefit, but rather to get back into our bodies to release stagnant energy. 

Here are some common benefits of movement: 

  • Deep breathing
  • Releases happiness chemicals in the brain, like dopamine
  • Reveals hidden strengths or confidence
  • Channels creativity and expression
  • Detoxifies the body through sweat
  • Releases or moves tight muscles in the body, which often hold stress 
  • Re-focuses the mind to be present
  • Invites us to be social and ask people to join 
  • Connects us to others through experiences

 Supercharge these effects by getting outside to move. Spending just 20 minutes in nature can drastically improve mood and reduce stress, along with a bunch of other benefits.

 

3) Taking five minutes each morning to focus on the One Thing.

Why it works: the domino effect.

These days, we're all craving a sense of accomplishment to release the anxiety of getting things done. Enter this book: The One Thingwhich is also on the list of books to read for chasing dreams. 

As daily priorities stack up, to-do lists and productivity tools seem to add to the clutter. I found myself trying to perfect the process of tracking everything, with multiple google sheets, notes on my iPhone, Trello boards, and whatever else promised to calm the chaos. 

Turns out the key to success is doing less. 

Taking 10-15 min every morning to focus on the #1 thing to accomplish creates clarity. Yes, I still make to-do lists and live by my calendar, but I do a lot less task-switching.

The book short and the lessons are simple. From building habits to finding more success at work, The One Thing teaches how focusing on a single task leads up to bigger jumps in progress.

 

Notes for further reading/ listening:

Hope, Happiness and Social Connection: Hidden Benefits of Regular Exercise

Exercises for Awakening - Eckhart Tolle x Oprah

The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan - Audible, Amazon

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