“When you stop growing you start dying, there just isn’t a place in a human life for homeostasis” I heard the sentiment listening to a podcast interview while running intervals on the treadmill the other day. Though the exact Podcast is irrelevant as it pertains to the continuation of this post (it was The Brain Candy Podcast) it was the underlying principle that spoke to me. I am constantly inspired by people at all stages of life who push themselves to take up a new skill, travel to a new place, or push themselves out of their comfort zone. I never want to be afraid to take up something new because I’m too old or too established or too whatever.
But, growing goes beyond learning new skills and trying new hobbies. Growing extends past keeping your inner child happy or checking all the boxes that keep you from settling into a “boring” middle age. Growing means looking at yourself and reflecting on who you are and what you think about that person. Sometimes (oh gosh how we all hate these times) growing means internalizing criticism from the people we love instead of immediately allowing it to roll off our backs and asking ourselves “do I like THOSE aspects of me?”
I almost always have a list of little self improvement goals I’m working towards. Often those goals revolve around online courses or exercise or showing the people I love that I care…but this summer the core of my focus is centered around myself. Believe it or not this focus isn’t #Selfish but is more of revelation about the way I treat other people. Disclaimer: No one told me that I am a bad person or that they don’t want to be around me anymore or anything dramatic to that effect but for whatever reason it occurred to me that certain aspects of my personality were impacting my happiness while simultaneously negatively affecting my relationships.
Hello anxiety. Hello jumping down people’s throats because I’m stressed. Hello nagging about being on time. Oh hey that high strung internal voice that won’t let me enjoy all the AWESOME aspects of my life because I’m too busy worrying and planning for the next thing.
The last thing I want to be is the person who can’t enjoy her day on the beach because she’s worried it might rain (or there could be a tsunami) (or that she may get a sun burn), etc, etc. While my hypothetical scenario may be a little out there the reality is I allow a lot of the “little things” impact my mindset. Don’t get me started on the swelling anxiety in my chest when I can’t get somewhere on time due someone else…the stress of it consumes me even if I’m just late to brunch. It shouldn’t matter but it slowly compiles with other seemingly “little things” and can affect my overall enjoyment and stress level all day.
Realistically I can’t avoid ever feeling stressed or anxious. Honestly, I don’t want to ban stress entirely because it can be a good thing and one heck of a motivator. Yet, I’d venture to guess that allotting a disproportionate level of stress to everyday occurrences like calling to cancel an appointment or making it to dinner before everyone else is a waste of energy. Hi everyone, my name is Jordyn and I AM a high strung person, but do I necessarily have to be?
After catching myself whining and WORSE nagging over pretty pointless battles I realized I was raining on my own parade. I don’t usually consider myself a negative person so it was initially difficult for me to accept that I was capable of taking something I enjoy (like hiking/shopping/hanging out at home with Jordan) and turning it into a stressful experience for no real reason at all. I stressed about Pierre getting off of his leash, I stressed about Jordan waking up late, and I stressed about situations that had not come to fruition but that I worried could materialize at any moment. All of my stress over circumstances outside of myself was not motivating me to create better experiences, it was keeping me from appreciating and enjoying my own life.
Without a plan a goal is just a dream floating around in the clouds. I brain stormed a few ideas to actively pursue on my journey to “enjoying life” and generally allowing anxiety to affect me less. If you find yourself inhibited by similar issues you may find the ways I am holding myself accountable helpful:
- Slow down & live in the moment instead of worrying about what’s next.
- Practice gratitude by actively showing appreciation for the people/things/experiences I have.
- Pause before vocalizing a concern or complaint and ask myself which battles are worth it. In all relationships communication is vital but complaining that your partner left his shoes all over the living room isn’t necessarily worth the added negativity.
- When I start to feel overwhelmed or stressed take a deep breath, close my eyes and be still for a moment. Sometimes stress really is unavoidable but more often than not it can be combatted without lashing out or letting it ruin the day.
- Accept help when I need it and say “no” to obligations that add more stress than value.
- Check in with myself and talk over issues with a friend, loved one or therapist if I feel like I need support.
- Prioritize responsibilities and schedule the time needed to complete projects so when I am doing something fun/relaxingI can enjoy it instead of wasting my leisure time feeling panicky & anxious.
I think it is really easy to dismiss less than ideal aspects of our own personalities. It is tempting to fall into the mindset that dismisses our own short comings with “that’s just the way I am”. “I’m just naturally anxious & high strung” has definitely crossed my mind and slipped from my lips a time or two. We don’t need to be chained to a single mentality though! With some thoughtful self reflection and earnest work on ourselves we can change our habits and even our mindsets!
General Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to diagnose or suggest I know how to combat general anxiety. I am just sharing my own perspective on how I have historically dealt with day to day anxiety and how I am attempting to alleviate a little bit of unnecessary stress from my life so I can focus on the stress that actually matters.