As every writer or creative person knows, you need to have mental focus in order to do your best work. I find with myself that if I’m scattered and in a tizzy (which is pretty frequent for me), my writing suffers. Sure, I can put words on paper but they’re not brilliant. They’re just passable. And the changing hormones of menopause also bring jolts of anxiety and sleeplessness (see Dawn at 3:00am) that drain creativity. I also think I’m an adrenaline junkie. I like the high from chocolate and tea!  But I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to stay calmer and more focused; maybe these will be of help to you too:

Stop rushing:

–          Leave early for appointments. The worry of not being on time creates major stress and anxiety.

–          Take your time with everyday activities. A slower pace can make you feel more relaxed. One example for me when I tend to rush is returning from the grocery store.  I hurry to get the perishables into the fridge/freezer.  A few extra seconds will not mean spoiled food!

–          Stop trying to race the clock – i.e., driving fast to see if you can break your record for getting somewhere (okay, I’m guilty).

–          Don’t multi-task. Yes, it was a popular notion several years ago but studies have now shown it creates stress and that most of us are actually more effective if we focus on getting one thing done at a time.

–          Okay, how do I say this delicately…take your time in the bathroom.  No, I don’t mean putting on makeup and drying your hair. I mean allow yourself time to sit and relax.  I’m often so much in a hurry that I do my business and I’m outta there.  But I remember my dad used to spend what seemed like hours in the john. And my ex-husband did too.  (Is that a man thing?)

–          And speaking of bathrooms, I also rush through my showers. And never take bubble baths anymore. Too much of a waste of time. I think there’s a pattern forming here…

 Driving creates anxiety:

–          Don’t speed when driving. Try driving closer to the speed limit and see if you feel any better.

–          Don’t let the gas tank go too low. Nothing creates anxiety more than running on fumes.

–          Let others pass you. If you’re like me, you get really mad when someone tailgates you (yes, I can be an aggressive driver – really?). Remember, driving isn’t a competition.  Nobody gets a trophy for getting somewhere first.

–          Don’t talk/text while driving. As noted above, multi-tasking is stressful  – and staying focused on driving is obviously safer.

Diet:

–          Cut out anything with caffeine or stimulants: coffee, tea, chocolate, RED BULL!

–          Watch how many high glycemic carbs you eat. Spikes in sugar levels can play havoc with anxiety. Examples of high carb foods are white flour (breads, cookies, cakes, pretzels), white rice, corn, potatoes (and any junk food made from these), alcohol, and sugar. I feel much better on a low glycemic diet but it can be difficult to stick to, especially if you’re feeling stressed.

Other suggestions:

–          Take along something to read wherever you go in case you need to wait (I take a notebook for one of my writing projects).

–          Get some exercise. It’s amazing how just a short walk will help create relaxation. An even longer period of exercise is tiring and burns off adrenaline.

–           Try meditation or some kind of relaxation ritual.  This is a tough one for me because I can’t sit still but it’s helpful for some people.

My work with dogs taught me a lot about anxiety. Keeping dogs calm is often the key to preventing or eliminating  problem behaviors. We can benefit from these lessons too.

So you get the idea that I need to slow down and enjoy, huh?  Well how about you? What are your best ideas to help alleviate anxiety?

Advertisements