Sunday Thoughts (how to ride the waves)

Yesterday morning, Karen and I went for a walk on the beach. 

Yes, it’s February and it was a little cool, but heck, it’s nothing like what many of you are dealing with right now weather-wise.

A walk on the beach works so well to get your head right. Looking out at the vast ocean really gives you perspective. 

It’s something a lot of us could use right now. 

In talking to many of my readers, and people I run into in my daily life, our anxiety levels as a society are at an all-time high. Even people who look calm on the outside, inside… it’s like a tsunami.

There are many lessons I’ve learned over the years about dealing with down times, and coping. Some I’ve shared with you before. 

Some, I’ve learned to share with my kids, in the hope that they’d be able to get through whatever’s bugging them at the moment. 

There’s no lack of anxiety-inducing things in our lives. But there are a lot of ways to reframe this and ride it better. Today, I want to share a few with you.

The first is to understand that being anxious or upset is not a sign of weakness. Anxiety is a perfectly normal reaction to stress. You need to think of it as a message from your mind and body. 

That message is: something is off. And you have an opportunity to learn and grow from it. 

Thoughts are like a stampede of bulls. But they are just that, thoughts. You decide what you hold onto and what you simply acknowledge and let go. 

When you’re feeling caught up in the negative, take a breath. Recognize this negativity, and try to let it go. 

I find that exercising is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety or racing thoughts. Not only do you have to choose to focus on the task at hand, but it can give you more energy to cope. 

On top of the “feel good” endorphins that help break up stress naturally. 

Next, don’t be afraid to talk about it. A reassuring voice can always lend valuable perspective. Some people are just too concerned with not looking “tough” or “together” to let others in. This is a huge missed opportunity. 

Remember, everyone is dealing with their own anxieties. Even the people who look like they have it all together. 

Now, these are all good ways to cope. But my all-time favorite is the concept of “impermanence.” 

Whatever’s dominating your thoughts today will be gone in time. Things always change. Enjoy the good times when they come, because they don’t last forever. But when the bad times come, remember that they too won’t last. 

I like to remind myself that thoughts are like the waves of the ocean I love so much. Constantly coming and going, and replaced by new ones. 

What feels all-consuming today will be gone in due time. 

In the meantime, try to gently ride the waves along the way. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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edi biggerstaff - March 1, 2021

I think it helps to plan ahead for things to do or think about when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed. You can have ready a plan to take a walk, work on a puzzle, play a game, call someone to chat. If you plan ahead you don’t find yourself just not knowing what to do because you have become “stuck”.

Paul - March 1, 2021

Good morning Jeff, I usually don’t respond to articles (but I do like to read them) and todays article, 28 Feb 2021, also my 75th birthday, was very good and hit a good spot with me, especially the last part – “I like to remind myself that thoughts are like the waves of the ocean I love so much. Constantly coming and going, and replaced by new ones. What feels all-consuming today will be gone in due time. In the meantime, try to gently ride the waves along the way”. I am from the beach, coastal North Carolina, and hope to be moving back very soon. Keep up the good work.

CRGAK - February 28, 2021

I’ve developed a time line perspective on dealing with negativity in its various forms. I ask myself questions that help determine the level of response. Is this going to matter tomorrow? In a week? In a month? In 3 months? In 6 months? In a year? In 5 years? In 10 years? In 20 years? By establishing priority, I’m able to see the forest instead of just the tree blocking my path. This reduces anxiety, worry, depression, etc. and allows me to rationally decide reaction, behavior, etc., appropriate to the situation.

Heather Mumford - February 28, 2021

I enjoyed your words about anxiety.I suffer from it pretty bad.Your words gave me encouragement and truth.Thank you.

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