We are designed to find creativity in the chaos
It's true. All you have to do is look around and witness the incredible ways we've come together in recent days and how resourceful and innovative individuals and businesses have become in light of our recent circumstances.
With most if not all of us dealing with some level of fear and anxiety at the moment we thought it an appropriate time bring you our first piece of content focusing on self care. Now more than ever we need to to manage our negative thoughts and emotions and at the same time boost energy and creativity. Believe it or not we have a real opportunity to reframe our current plight as a huge opportunity. First, let’s start simple and learn to manage those voices in our heads and get our energy focused on stuff that will move us forward.
Here are 11 proven things that will help manage anxiety and boost energy. Don’t feel like it’s an all or nothing list! You may try and tackle 1 or 2 practices and that’s fine too. Also remember that when we better manage our stress and integrate these practices into out daily routine we are boosting our immune systems as well. Not a bad side effect at the moment!
A little disclaimer: I've spent the last 10 years obsessed with how to manage my own fears and anxiety while going deep on practices that have helped my supercharge my own abilities. This list comes from much of my own practices while running businesses and raising a family but I'm not an expert or authority.
1. Medicate with Music
This is such an easy one, but I put it at the top of the list for a reason! One of the most powerful gifts we have as music and sound pros is the ability to create and perform. Make sure you are doubling down on all your usual creative efforts. Music and sound heals us and others in so many ways so don’t let stress get in the way of your craft. Now more than ever you’ll recognize that shift in your mental state and emotional wellbeing when you are listening, playing, dancing, singing or writing. Do it and do it often!
2. Conscious Breathing
Our breath is a simple tool we can use to calm our nerves and balance our energy. A nervous system reset can happen in as little as six seconds. Try this simple exercise whenever you need it and start to build this skill that you’ll have for the rest of your life!
- Breath in slowly while counting to 4 filling your belly and moving your breath up into your chest.
- Once you are filled up with air, hold your breath for a 4-count.
- Exhale very slowly over a 6-count and let the breath sink down into your seat. Imagine all your racing thoughts flow out of you!
- Repeat as much as you want. The more the better.
Go deeper with Wim Hof. He’s been elevated to one of the kings of developing methodologies that can harness the power that we all have within us using our breath. Check out this taster of one of his powerful breathing exercises. I’ve sworn by these techniques to build energy, release stress, and connect to our inner super powers.
3. Digital Detox or a Headline Detox
We all need to stay informed but the media industry is designed to keep you coming back for more. We are smack in the middle of a global crisis and they love it! Our anxieties are fueled by the continuous doom and gloom headlines and it becomes addictive and paralysing. This only serves to fuel the fears of consumers who then just add to the noise. Remember fear spreads faster than a virus.
- Start by turning off your notifications, especially from social media! Right now, almost every notification you get is triggering anxiety because you are being programmed to expect something bad. Notifications are important for continuing to work effectively, but you don’t need the interruptions from news and social outlets!
- Don’t start your day by picking up your phone. Try to get at least an hour first thing in the morning without it!
- Decide where you are going to get your news from. Avoid sites like CNN and CP24 that sensationalize everything. Find a trusted source that covers the news in a balanced way.
- Find a source of positive news because there is a lot of it. Check out The Optimist Daily
4. Figure out Food
This is a hard one given the circumstances, but we may have a wonderful opportunity to eat a little less take out and focus on a stocked pantry of whole foods. Stress leads our body to crave sugars - refined, processed, high calorie, low nutrient foods. You’ll notice that when stressful thinking hits so does your desire for a Big Mac. Be aware and try to make a good choice. You’ll be thankful for the habit you develop. When in doubt, just eat less! Our cognitive function is higher while we aren’t digesting food.
Consider avoiding refined foods, processed sugars, alcohol, and chemically rich foods. Embrace whole sources of protein, healthy fats, probiotics, and delicious fruits and veggies.
5. Minimize your Alcohol Consumption
It may seem like a good idea to take the edge off with a glass of wine, but remember that alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol's positive effects are very short lived and the negative effects can last 8-10 hours, the time it takes to metabolize!
Alcohol also significantly disturbs our sleep which is a crucial part in managing energy and anxiety. Think about having that glass of wine earlier in the day, not later! Try to avoid drinking alcohol multiple days in a row. The negative effects start to add up.
6. Sleep! Get Some Successful Shut-Eye
This might be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Despite what you think or what you’ve come to believe, we all need at least 8 hours of quality sleep no matter what age. Quality means the right balance of deep, REM, and light sleep.
- Cut out caffeine as soon as you can. If that's not possible, have your last coffee at 2:00pm the latest! Some say they can sleep after an espresso, but the reality is they are sleeping lightly and consequently disrupting the amount of deep sleep they are getting.
- Try to cut out screens at least an hour before bed. This can be hard, but you’ll be thankful when you wake the next day. If nothing else, make sure your night shift settings are on full so that you are severely limiting the amount of blue light you are taking in.
- Eat your last meal early and avoid late night snacking. The quality of your sleep is also dependent on what your body is digesting and metabolizing.
- Wind down with a book, some light stretching or yoga, or meditation. Don’t fall asleep in front of Netflix!
7. Embracing Exercise
This goes without saying. Get your exercise every day. Get creative at home. Exercise releases endorphins that are crucial to our mental well being. What a great time to get that habit going that you’ve been trying to find the opportunity to start.
There are numerous free apps that can guide you through simple routines at home while you wait for your gym to reopen. As more studios transition to live streaming their content, you have a wealth of options out there!
8. Medicate with Meditation
Meditation can be a challenge for many people. Start simple! Set aside even 5 minutes a day to practice questing the mind. Underneath all those thoughts is a being that is filled with joy. The child inside that just needs a chance to show up if the adult in you would just shut up for a second!
There are so many free resources out there when you do a simple search for guided or stress relieving meditations. There are many from gurus like Tara Brach and John Kabat Zinn. It’s a great time to finally start that daily practice with multi-week free app trials from Calm and Headspace.
9. Keep Socializing!!
Humans are social creatures. Spending 10 minutes a day having a meaningful, unbroken conversation with a close friend, coworker, or family member will help you feel more connected to those around you and in touch with yourself. Thankfully, technology can connect us like never before.
Schedule coffee over FaceTime!
How about an office happy hour through a Google hangout?
10. Nature Therapy
Spend at least 20 minutes outside or in nature. Seek out a forest, open space, or even just a local park to take in the smells, sights, and sounds of nature. This helps balance our energy and diffuses our spinning analytical mind. Too much proven research here to note!
11. Practice Gratitude
When times are uncertain it may seem tough to be thankful and to find reasons to be grateful. Studies consistently show that this simple practice leads to huge mental and physical benefits. We are all in some sort of fight or flight state at the moment, but the reality is that our lives are not being immediately threatened as if a bear was attacking. We obviously have safety and health concerns that we are dealing with, but we are not under attack!
- Find a moment at the end of your day or whenever to list a few things you are grateful for! They can be the littlest or simplest of things.
- Keep a note pad or journal near your bed or in your purse. Take note of moments of gratitude, no matter how big or small.
- Find an opportunity to be grateful for someone. Think about sharing this thought with them which has massive proven anti-depressive benefits that can last over a week!
Hopefully you will find some value in this list and start to find opportunities to bring some new practices into your daily routine that you'll have for the rest of your life - no matter what the world brings you.