Anxious Thinking? 3 Important Steps in Creating a Peace Plan
As soon as August comes, I feel the subtle shift preparing me for the Fall schedule. New projects are being discussed, kids are returning to school, holiday plans start coming up, and the focus is shifting away from the care-free days of Summer and vacationing…to that of daily schedules, shorter days, and new routines. I feel both the anticipation…and at times a growing anxiety. (Yay! Family schedules resume with kids back in school and new projects to launch! Boooo! Early mornings, short evenings, more work and less vacations.)
In my many conversations with family and friends, I know that I am not alone as we all wonder how we can manage it all and keep up with the lives we want for ourselves and our loved ones.
So how do we stop the spinning of anxious thoughts? (Or what I call ‘spaghetti thinking’ because of the many thoughts that makes our brain feels like a bowl of noodles in our attempt to sort it all out.)
Here’s a recent example in my personal journey . . .
Coming back from a doctor appointment last month left me a bit overwhelmed. Being now “middle-aged” (lovely, do I like this term? Not sure…), I am facing new truths about my physical health…some issues I can address…and others are simply the process of growing older. These health conversations remind me of my mortality and I notice the anxiety growing within me.
Practicing what I teach, I took the time to PAUSE….
This pausing process can happen in minutes or hours but it is a time to pull away and ‘let down’. Perhaps it’s a long walk, or time in nature, or inspirational reading, or a great song, or meditation, or art journaling…but it is something that soothes the spirit and prepares us for the next step to….ASK gentle questions.
Learning to ask questions that are kind helps us receive the answers we need.
- Why am I anxious?
- Who have I been around or been listening to? What is true?
- What do I need to remember? What anchors do I use to stop the flow of anxious thinking?
These are some of the questions I asked….and Ahhhhh….the answers came.
I learned my anxiety was swirling because I didn’t like facing aging and it triggered my sense of not being in control. Remembering the Serenity Prayer, reminded me that some areas I can change and others I can’t, but wisdom will help me know the difference.
I also realized some of the voices I had been listening to such as health care professionals, trainers, books, and research on the internet were using fear as a motivator. I remembered that I don’t engage fear as a motivator….but rather peace as I trust in the journey. I remembered that I am being guided and the answers are here. I also remembered to honor my body and make peace with the fact that one day it will wear out.
And with new solutions, the anxiety dissipated allowing me to TAKE ACTION in a way that best supported my journey. I was able to formulate a plan that came from peace rather than anxiety. (Haven’t we all reacted from a place of angst rather than clarity? Not fun, huh?) My action plan included:
- Reaching out to close friends who support my core values
- Engaging with professional experts who could help me get the answers and treatment I needed
- Being committed to the journey and remain intentional each day
- Being open and sharing. This breaks the hold of any shame or isolation and invites in authentic community that supports us moving forward. (Just so you don’t think I’m dying or anything…I’m dealing with high cholesterol and insulin resistance and the lifestyle changes I need to make to address this.)
It’s important to take action that aligns with your intuition and core values as you make a plan that supports you moving forward in the right direction. We can only do this well when we first take the time to pause and reflect.
So, I share my Peace Plan with you in hopes of helping you sort out any “spaghetti thinking” from anxious thoughts. And next time the anxious thinking comes, remember to P.A.T. yourself on the back – as you
PAUSE. ASK. TAKE ACTION. (I know…a bit corny, but I need these anchors to help me remember.)
My heart is with you and for you,
P.S. For a relaxing song that always soothes…take a listen to one of my favorites by Shawn Mullins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSPjTAFn-l0