Our time on earth is finite. Anxiety creeps in sharply when the person you are being isn’t the person you actually want to be.
Like most people, I come across anxiety in many different areas across my life. Anxiety can affect friends, family and strangers, it can affect the young and the old and it often hides in places you would never expect to see it.
Conversations about anxiety have become much more open in recent times, but good answers and advice is still hard to come by. As an anxiety sufferer himself, Julian Brass is well equipped to recommend a wide variety of coping strategies in his book Own Your Anxiety.
When you’re in a place to understand your anxiety more deeply. That is where you grow.
The key take away of this book is that anxiety and similar feelings should be embraced wholeheartedly as opportunities to ‘check in with ourselves.’ Rather than becoming a curse, anxious feelings can be a blessing that prevent our own self-destruction. Brass compares anxiety to a fire that ‘if owned, can be a positive force in our lives. But if it’s not healthy, it can cause destruction and desolation’
Physical sensations can be the gift of anxiety speaking within us, when our behaviour misaligns with our feelings.
Key to managing your anxiety is to value your sense of well-being. In this book, Julian Brass offers up 99 different strategies towards finding a greater life balance. He does this not because 99 is a lovely number, but because it offers a wide and varied choice for the reader to pick and choose from. These strategies are neatly divided into three sections that cover the body, mind and soul.
My favourite strategies were:
- Swim: The act of splashing about in any amount of water allows the physical body to momentarily relax from gravity. When tension is released in the body, it is also released in the mind. You don’t have to swim laps of a pool or dive into freezing water to get the benefits of being in water. Bubble baths are another option!
- Put Your Phone On Silent: Yes there are times where you need to be contactable, but this should not be all of the time. Disable app notifications that you don’t need to bother you. Always sleep with your phone on silent. Leave your phone in another room or in your bag instead of always having it to hand constantly calling to you.
- Journal: Keeping a journal is about so much more than having regular ‘dear diary’ moments. Use your journal to make to-do lists and then prioritise what you actually need to do or can possibly do in a short time frame. Use it keep shopping lists or write down important things to remember. Record yourself each time you log in a run or a gym session and build confidence as the page fills up. Write a gratitude list or daily intention. A journal is basically where you think out loud in a more conscious way.
- Be in nature: Some people believe that if you don’t meditate or do yoga, you have zero chance of achieving mindfulness. That is not true. The very act of getting outdoors to receive sunny vitamin D and oxygen rich fresh air is reviving. Millions of years of evolutionary biology within you is unlocked by simply being outside. Remove the headphones and start to listen to the sounds around you. Don’t forget to dress appropriately. The comedian Billy Connolly said that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong choice of clothes.’
- Light more candles: Candles are massively underrated. Never has it been easier to find a candle with your favourite aroma. Lighting a candle has a similar effect to lighting a warm, cosy fire on a winter’s evening. They are great for setting a calm and relaxed mood in any space. Even the act of extinguishing a candle is peaceful.
I genuinely believe that this book has something to offer everyone whether you suffer from anxiety or not. We could all do with a greater sense of balance in our lives and even just reading through the table of contents in this book offers the reader an informative check-list for well-being. When this book comes out later this year, buying a copy for yourself and to share with others can only be a good thing to do.
Owning anxiety is a series of decisions, all undertaken with love for yourself.