We have all had those moments of anxiety or doubt in what we have done or have not done. Did I lock the door? Did I turn off the coffee pot? Did I shut the door? Is a tsunami going to make landfall for the first time since the dawn of time in my area that isn’t even near a body of water? You know the days I’m talking about. Well, I used to have a lot more of these days than not. If I am being honest- and you don’t have to lie to have friends- it was every day that ended in “Y”. Then, I started to learn little life hacks to help me manage the OCD that made me go back to the house twice, check the door three times, and then make one more trip back home because I forgot to check the coffee pot and then check the door three more times just in case.
I don’t have to do this as much as I used to, but one helpful little ditty my therapist gave me was to film myself leaving the house. Even if the day did not give the impression I was going to need to do this, I did this for a few months anytime I left the house. I walked from room to room, smartphone in hand, talking the whole way. “Light off, coffee pot off, door locked, door latched…” Then, when I got in the car I replayed it for myself. No more trips to check, recheck, and check one more time. I even checked the rooms I knew I had never set foot in. Every. Square. Inch.
Sometimes it isn’t until we lay our pretty little heads down that anxiety crashes down on us. “I really should buy life insurance”, “I probably shouldn’t have told Karen she lost weight, now she thinks I think she’s fat”, “Gah, remember that one time in 1st grade you called Bobby a doo doo brain? I bet he has never forgiven me” … I have a lot of nights like this. I call it having a mind busy with nothing because honestly, that’s what it is. Sure, some of it I important but let’s face it: a lot of it isn’t worth losing sleep over. Nonetheless, these thoughts creep in and once they start, it doesn’t take long before the downward spiral begins. When I have one of these nights, I like to pull up an app on my phone called “End Anxiety”. You can listen for free if you don’t mind listening to the 10-minute opening spill or pay $2.99 for the premium app. I pay $2.99. Anyway, this app takes you through a 30-minute exercise of breathing. Very much like guided imagery, you imagine, you breathe, and you relax. I use it to sleep despite there being a different app for that, it is just my preference.
Love Your Body
While we are talking about sleep, let’s talk about body love. Not that kind of body love! I mean loving your body enough to take a deep breath and relax when it’s time to let the sandman visit. If you have any kind of anxiety or stress in your life, you know that it is so much more than mental. It can be physically exerting and painful. When I lay down at night to go to sleep, I pay attention to my body. Are my hands clenched into fists? Are my legs squeezing together? What about my back? Shoulders? Even face. I take a minute to really let a cleansing breath wash over me and untangle my knots. Something just this simple has made a huge difference in the way my body feels when I wake up in the morning.
Write It Out
All of you are shocked by this. But sometimes taking a second to just jot down what is running through your mind is an effective was to at least get it on the outside, and that can be powerful. Keep it, junk it, burn it. Do whatever you need to do to make it go away because let’s face it, sometimes just telling yourself you will come back to those thoughts later isn’t enough to make them stop. I have the “never read again” journal. That’s where I put the darkness. All of those thoughts I never want to revisit go in there, mainly out of fear that if I get rid of them they’ll only come back. BUT! Do what you need to do, I think I have mentioned that slight but of OCD I have that contributes to this thought.
I know this list is short, but I hope someone out there I the blogosphere gets some relief from this. It isn’t a replacement for therapy, but part of healing is taking the little steps that make a big difference. No matter what you do, do it with love. Love yourself more than anyone else ever could and do what you need to do to be your best. What are some of your helpful tips for unwinding or alleviating those pesky thoughts and doubts?