Anxiety is a reality of our times. Sometimes it comes as a vicious attack with no clear cause, and sometimes it’s raised by the news on TV or the news from neighbors, friends and our own kids, parents, and partners. Whatever brings it on, battling anxiety can be a lonely struggle, often with no end in sight.
In an anxiety-ridden and anxiety-inducing world, we need to nurture our own stability. We need to be like a tree beside a clear stream, sending our deep, strong roots into the soil, and reaching our leaves to the sun, offering what we can to clean the air, house the birds and shade people from the heat.
Here are six ways to be stronger and more stable in spite of everything the world can throw at us:
- Get back to nature
- Go for a walk, plant flowers, play with your pets, hug a tree, watch the sunset. Remember that you are a part of everything and you fit right in. Spending as much time as we do inside rooms is not good for our health of body, mind or spirit. If getting outside just doesn’t work then look out the window, but It’s important to spend a part of each day under the open sky to keep the soul from getting smaller.
- Spend time with loved ones
- Don’t wait for the schmaltzy, teary connection forged at a funeral or a hospital bed. Tell the people you love that you love them, and listen to how they respond. For better or worse (or both) our closest connections and family have formed us and who we are, and we are forming them and the next generation in return. Our deep roots depend on strong bonds with the people who are important in our lives, and trying to deny or hide from that importance weakens us. Take the kids out for ice cream today!
- Count your assets
- Never mind blessings, count the things you have built yourself over the course of your life. Strengths, skills, areas of calm and peace, the ability to be kind, understanding of what makes people tick. You have learned so much, and you know so much about the world! Count it up and remind yourself how strong you have already become, and how ready you are to face whatever comes next.
- Connect with the Transcendent
- Whatever your beliefs about the world beyond this one, or the life of the spirit, deepening your spiritual roots will give you a very real stability and clarity. Join or find or be more regular with a community of fellow believers, there is solid research showing that people who join a faith community are healthier and longer-lived than those who don’t. A sense of mystery is actually a healthy antidote to fear of the unknown. Launch out!
- Nurture community
- Get to know your neighbors, organize a block party. Invite co-workers out for an evening of non-work relaxation together. Bigger networks of people around us who know our name and can be depended upon to provide a casserole when needed are an important source of stability and security. Your acts of kindness are adding up in your community, and other members’ kindnesses are as well. A broad community is like a wide river where each little fish is harder to catch; whereas in a narrow, shallow stream, the fish is more vulnerable to upheavals and attack.
- Hope is not something that just happens to a person, or something that some people have a talent for. Hope is a skill; some people would even say a responsibility. Looking towards the future and saying “I hope things will get better” is a way of opening up those better possibilities in our lives. Hope is also a powerful motivator for managing the disciplines of ordinary life. If you hope for better health you are more likely to go to the gym on a regular basis. Keeping a posture of hope shows the people around you that you have a reason to move forward and that is an encouragement to them to hope for better things too. It gets better!
Having more stability in an unstable world is not a guarantee that anxiety will not strike, moods will not fluctuate, uncertainty will not keep us guessing. But looking at life from a stable base of strong selfhood means that you can take whatever the world sends against you. Take that, anxiety!