Could someone please change the channel! Aren’t you tired of being told to be your authentic self, the best person that you can be, to feel more positive, happier and grateful? Do you look in the mirror, recite the affirmation, “I am beautiful” and do you believe what you say – really? Clearly, these platitudes don’t work in an epidemic of unproductive worry.
Meanwhile the drug industry is booming with commercials now marketing directly to the consumer/ patient, bypassing the doctor. Consider the commercial depicting a depressed woman who is transformed on a beach into a happier version of herself simply by taking a small pill; then the side effects are read by a narrator: stroke, cancer, and death. Wouldn’t you feel anxious taking this pill to make you feel less anxious?
What you can do when you feel anxious, unhappy and ungrateful:
- Know your stress threshold like when a challenge becomes a strain. For life to be stimulating you need the right amount of tension. If you pull a rubber band too tight, it will snap; keep pulling it and the rubber band will stretch out and become too loose.
- Pay attention to what saps your energy and what energizes you. Schedule breaks in your routine. Give that overtaxed brain a rest.
- Align your energy with the energy of others as opposed to beating your head against a wall of frustration. From an evolutionary stand point people are tribal and feel more secure in a group or with communal support.
- Accept your shadow side and let it work for you. Let’s say you experience envy. Then let envy inspire you to do better and achieve what the object of your envy did or even surpass that person. For example, I am a gardener and I know that every garden has weeds. I don’t pull out all the weeds in my garden because this unwanted vegetation can serve as a distraction to insects which will chew on the weeds rather than my vegetables or flowers. I let those weeds work for me.
- Read imaginative stories or watch movies for “therapy”. Fiction can teach you how other anxious, unhappy and neurotic people work out their problems and experience emotional healing. Stories leave greater impressions than words of advice.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Take each one as it comes and then move on to the next. Crowded thoughts like weeds can strangle your focus. Instead of being bombarded, know that doing one thing at a time, you can digest and understand your choices better. You get to choose if the cup is half full or half empty.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com