Dear Dr. Simon,
Normally I stress for only a few hours but for the past 6 months, I’ve been experiencing ongoing anxiety, stress, and worry. I believe the stress has weakened my body, and I need to relax and get healthy again. How do I reverse this?
I am grateful for your time and assistance.
Answer: Worrying about the future is like paying interest on a loan that you haven’t taken out. Even when they realize it isn’t logical, many people spend a lot of time ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. The way out of this cycle is finding opportunities to enter into present-moment awareness. Meditation is the most important first step in learning to quiet the mind and calm the chemistry that creates feelings of stress.
I encourage you to get daily exercise, and find time each day to do some kind of creative activity that you enjoy, such as dance, poetry, journaling, painting, or pottery. Give yourself 20 minutes a day to feel anxious, then consciously redirect your mind to more fruitful thoughts that celebrate the magic and mystery of a human incarnation.
It sometimes helps to bring in a littleness and humor to put your worrying into perspective. For example, for this week, focus all of your anxiety on global warming and the possibility that a meteorite could hit our planet at any time. By taking a more proactive role in your worrying, you may recognize that you have the ability to change the “channel” in your mind from one that generates agitation to one that encourages peace.
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