And I know there is no shortage of things to worry about in the age of anxiety. 24-7 access to work email, text messages and an endless stream of tweets and Facebook posts form a slithering reptile of information that threatens to strangle me like a boa constrictor.
And this year I got engaged, which in theory should be joyous, but instead my inner worry demon has come out to play, with questions, such as: What if no one really *wants* to come to the wedding? How can a photographer possibly cost $3,000? Will I look fat in my dress? Why do roses have to cost double on Valentine’s Day? Pile onto that an impending cross-country move with my future husband and you can see why I’m a nervous wreck.
But at year’s end I have come to realize (again) that worrying is utterly useless. There is no use spending valuable mental energy worrying about things you have no real control over. And trying to live up to what you think other people expect is a losing game. Plan, yes, worry, no. The wedding is, in all likelihood, going to turn out OK. I know a few details will probably go wrong, but it will be a happy day because I and my fiancé make it so, no matter what my relatives, caterer, florist, cake baker, DJ or anyone else does. The same can be said for so much else in life – it’s time to live in the moment and enjoy it and deal with problems as they come, not stay up nights pondering nightmare scenarios that will probably never happen.
Anyway, here are the top 10 things that help me calm down when life has turned into an anxiety-filled mess:
- Spend time with people. Face-to-face, not on Facebook. Most of the time I realize others have problems that are much greater than my own.
- Write down at least three things I’m grateful for.
- Read a book. Something about books encourages getting lost in them and forgetting yourself.
- Find a charity to donate to. Here’s a worthy one: http://www.fthar.org/
- Turn off the technology, even if it’s just for an hour or two. Cut off the text messages and stop checking email.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes everything seem worse the next day.
- Cook something easy to make but healthy and delicious.
- Pray and acknowledge your powerlessness to control things.
- Go outside and look at something beautiful – a tree, a sunset, a mountain or a full moon. Do NOT post a picture on Instagram.
- Take 10 deep breaths. Yes, 10. One is not enough.