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Keeping the Anxiety Monkeys from Flying!

Anxiety Monkeys.

Those moments of fear, panic, anger, and a mix of negative emotions that swirl up in all of our heads sometimes.

We may be trying something new, feeling like we are not understanding just exactly what to do and become frustrated. Perhaps we are facing a change in our lives that was sudden and unexpected, such as losing a spouse, going through a divorce, dealing with difficult family relationships. Or, suddenly being fired from our job and facing the unknown of what we will do next. There are a number of life events that can induce what I call 'anxiety monkeys', those uncomfortable feelings of not knowing which way to turn, what to do.

When I recognize my anxiety is leading me, I often visualize those famous flying monkeys being guided by the wicked Witch of the West to go after Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, too, in the Wizard of Oz. The witch can represents negative energy in this visualization, the flying monkeys, the mixed up emotions she generates and commands the monkeys to take to Dorothy.

As a child, when I watched the Wizard of Oz and those monkeys came on the scene, I remember being so afraid of them that I would put a pillow over my face. I would bring the pillow down slowly over my eyes so I could peek and see if they were gone yet. But every year I would watch it again!

I no longer pull a pillow over my face to hide me from things that scare me, upset me deeply, or frustrate me, but I definitely know how difficult managing one's anxiety monkeys can be. Managing anxiety involves adopting various strategies to keep the "anxiety monkeys" from flying wildly about, flapping their wings and circling around the magic crystal ball of one's life.

One effective approach is mindfulness meditation, which encourages focusing on the present moment. This practice helps break the cycle of anxious thoughts by redirecting attention to the sensations of breathing or the environment. I personally have found that taking time in the morning to pray, meditate, and get my exercise in before even looking at my emails, social media, etc. helps to keep me more grounded and balanced throughout my day.

Of course, when we are experiencing our moments, it is hard to remember what to do to calm our anxiety. A few tools I have in my toolbox are:

  1. Run your wrists under cold water, as water changes energy and will make your brain refocus.

  2. Essential oils, especially Lavender, can allow your brain to refocus on something pleasant.

  3. Count from 20 backwards. This also gives your mind something to engage in.

  4. Feel the emotions. If that means allowing yourself to cry it out, then do so. Crying cleanses the body and calms your spirit.

  5. Keep music in your phone that reminds you of a happy time in your life, or uplifts you. When you realize your anxiety is leading you, put on that song and sing your heart out. Dancing will loosen up you up and get your energy going as well!

  6. Remember that you are HUMAN, and love yourself through it all. Dealing with anxiety, which is often accompanied by depression, doesn't make you any less of a person when you are in your 'moments' than when you are not.

I have also learned to allow my emotions to move through my body before making big decisions whenever possible. When our emotions are heightened, we may not make the most logical decision, but if we allow these emotions to pass, we can look at all sides of a situation more clearly.

Establishing a consistent routine is another key factor. Structured daily schedules provide a sense of stability and predictability, reducing the uncertainty that often fuels anxiety. Prioritizing self-care activities such as exercise, sufficient sleep, and a healthy and balanced diet can also significantly impact anxiety levels. Regular physical activity, in particular, releases endorphins, promoting a more positive mood and reducing stress.

Even a 15-20 minute walk will help.

Effective communication plays a crucial role in managing anxiety. Sharing concerns with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can provide valuable support and perspective. Additionally, learning to set realistic goals and boundaries helps prevent overwhelming oneself with tasks and responsibilities.

Cultivating a positive mindset involves challenging negative thoughts and practicing self-compassion. Recognizing and reframing irrational fears can diminish their power, while treating oneself with kindness fosters resilience in the face of challenges. So many of us operate in this world with negative thoughts about ourselves, our lives, and our existence. Creating a positive mind set, although it may be challenging for you to do, will help your health in body/mind/spirit.

Ultimately, finding activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as hobbies or creative pursuits, can act as powerful antidotes to anxiety. By combining these strategies, individuals can develop a personalized toolkit to keep the anxiety monkeys from flapping about and promote overall well-being.

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