Operation Relaxation

Dear sons,

This may or may not come as a surprise to you in 2030, and in my heart of hearts, I hope it is a huge surprise since that will mean I have reached my goal, but I have struggled for years with anxiety. It’s not fun. It was awful before you came into the world, but it has bothered me even more since I became a mother because I do not want you to suffer from it or have to carry any burdens that come from my own struggle with it.

I want to explain, though, that I do not suffer from anxiety nearly as badly as some. I don’t ever end up in a situation that would require medical attention; however, I have experienced it to the level of it affecting my relationships, productivity, and health. After I recently experienced a very difficult battle with it, I have decided to take control of it, and I’m calling it “operation relaxation,” because I am committed to the changes.

So, here is my list of advice to myself, and hopefully, to you. I hope you already do these things because I will have taught them to you between now and 2030:

1. Conscious deep breathing.
I find that when I am not paying attention to it and suddenly do, I am often taking shallow breaths. When I take a moment and center myself again by focusing on my breath, I become much more relaxed. If I do this more often throughout the day, I’m making headway with this operation. This blog post¬†from Psych Central is a helpful one on this subject. Also, I often turn to a website called calm.com and it helps me tremendously by removing me from my current distractions.

2. Pay attention to your body. Notice what muscles are not relaxed and relax them. For me, it’s my jaws since I tend to clench my teeth when I am stressed, which is sadly, a good bit of the time. No wonder I get headaches! When I realized this recently and started forcing myself to relax my jaws, I noticed the rest of my body relax, too. Interestingly, my headache went away.

3. Prayer and meditation. This seems obvious, and for spiritual reasons, I need to do this more often, but I plan to spend more of my energy in a place of gratitude and surrender. All of the things I get anxious about are out of my control. It’s time I truly lived a life of faith within my own mind, in addition to my words and actions.

4. Drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, and when you snack, choose fruit. I have been paying attention to my body’s needs lately and have been much more focused on this goal and already feel better. As odd as this might sound, I think our moods are very much affected by our diets. I’m cutting down on my sugar intake and know this is one good step in the right direction. I’d also like to add that I am very wary of any advice that tells me to cut out an entire food group. Healthy moderation is what I try to keep in mind.

5. Move. I’ll be honest. I don’t really like exercise for the sake of exercise. It has to be enjoyable for me, or I’ll quit. True story (a bit embarrassing, but true). I recently tried CrossFit for a few months, and well, it wasn’t for me. My wrist, elbow, and knee agree. So, I’ve started yoga. It just makes sense, and I really enjoy it.

6. Get a massage whenever possible. I know this is a luxury, and for many people, it is nearly impossible to commit to, but whenever I have a good one, I am ten times better off and feel great for days. I had a massage a couple of months ago that was amazing, and I felt like a new person for weeks. I believe it has great power in relieving our stress and pain.

7. Practice positive self-talk. This one is tough for me as I have often been very tough on myself. Saying nice things to myself feels strange at first, but it does have great power as well.

8. Do something nice for at least one other person at least once a day. Even if it is to ask the server how his or her day is going or to smile kindly at someone as they pass you in the store, it reminds us that this life isn’t all about us and that what we do for and say to others can have an impact. We can have an impact.

9. Talk or write to someone about your daily struggles. We all need a trusted confidante. Find one.

10. Get out and have some fun! Really. That’s an order.

I pray that as you read this, you feel equipped to handle stress. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid it altogether, but we can control it so that it doesn’t take over our lives. Remember, you come from love, and perfect love casts out fear. Breathe. Namaste.

All My Love,

Mom

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