Lamp Light // A Guide For Worry
"The lights are so bright, but they'll never blind me"- Taylor Swift
My mind has been going. It’s running at a pace that’s fast and focused, but also one that’s hard to slow down. Maybe it’s the time of year, or transitions happening at home and at school. There seems to be this never ending list that just keeps growing, and as I check one thing off, another is added to the queue. Being busy is good, it’s taught me how to prioritise and use time efficiently, but as things pile up and I’m left to organise the fray, there’s a part of me that gets lost. I zero in on the task at hand, and if it doesn’t get done, I’m afraid of the potential consequence. Is the world going to end?
Life is like a rolling set of waves, and while some are strong and fast, others are more gentle. You might not expect the force of the fast paced tide, but we learn to tread and keep afloat. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, especially around the holidays, we have to remember that it’s okay to check out from all the chaos, and to push the to-do list aside. Our bodies and minds need to rest in order to perform at their full potential, so do them a favour and take the time for yourself to just completely relax.
It’s 5 o′clock pm. You just worked your ass off, and the day couldn’t have gone by any slower…or was it fast? You’re not quite sure because the brain is fogged up from stress, concentration, strain and exhaustion. We all have these days, and sometimes it might be hard to leave it all behind. When I have a day like this, most of the time I will walk home pissed off, and immediately crawl into bed. I’ve realised that I actually hate doing this. I’ll go to sleep worrying that the next day will be just as long, which results in waking up to a mind that is already stressed. I forget to divulge in anything else that may help to blow off some steam, take a step back and just relax. We need more in our lives than just work and sleep, and I’ve learned that even the tiniest of things can help me recuperate after a down day.
To start, I’ve actually stopped. I’ve 'stopped' worrying. I think we’ve all experienced our fair share of stress and anxiety. An aching head from too many tumbling thoughts, or a knot tied tight in your belly. It’s natural – after all, we humans have wildly full, emotional lives. For some, stress and anxiety can become drastically amplified over time, causing issues with both mind & body health.
There was a brief period of time in my life when I allowed anxiety to swallow me whole. I spent my days bathed in worry and doubled over in pain. Then I realised that there is one simple solution: Breath. Keeping a head space that’s tuned in to the present moment rather than fretting about what’s to come is the fastest way to a reset. It’s as simple as ignoring all notifications on your phone. Go ahead and even turn off the vibrate function. Or maybe it’s listening to those songs that bring along feel-good vibes. When I start to get overwhelmed with thoughts of studying, I put on one of my favourite songs, and I switch my focus to the lyrics and the beat, allowing it to take my mind elsewhere.
We can live an impressive length of time without food, and a handful of days without water. But without breath? A few minutes, at most. Our breath is woven through our emotions; connected to our overall health. It catches in our throat after a wonderful kiss, and shutters and stops when we’re afraid. It’s slow and beautiful when we’re laying out in a long summer’s day.
Scientifically speaking, our breath is what triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response. When you’re breathing shallowly, quickly, up in the tip top of your lungs, the rest of your body assumes that you’re being chased by a lion (even if you’re only reading over quotes for that exam in few weeks). The problem is that these days, we’re so disconnected that we’re often breathing shallowly all throughout the day. This can lead to increased anxiety, stress, and poor health overall.
It's that time of the year. The time when everyone is just that little bit more on edge, that little bit more worried. As someone who seems to be in that space almost all the time, I've learned a lot about how to combat it, and I never want any of you to feel the way I feel. So, here's my little guide to worry, and anxiety.
Checking in with your breath is absolutely the first thing you should do when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, etc. Stop what you’re doing. Sit down. Close your eyes. Maybe press your hand to your heart and steady yourself. Notice here: are you breathing shallowly? Is your breath catching in your ribs, your throat? Checking in will allow you the opportunity to focus in on the present moment and gently pull your mind from whatever it is that’s causing you pain.
Now… through your nose, inhale for 4 counts. Hold that breath in for 7 counts – at that time, pick a point to focus on, like the centre of your heart, your forehead, your fingertips – and then exhale slowly through slightly parted lips for 8 counts.
Repeat this as many times as you’d like. Afterwards pause for a moment, wherever you are, and bring your hand to your heart. Close your eyes. Find your breath. Nod, and reboot.
Hot chocolate, chai tea.... Breathing in the warm aromas and steam can help open up your sinuses and help you feel refreshed. I love to find a big mug and wrap my hands around it, then slowly sip as I feel my throat and body being warmed. Instant relaxation. Or even a big duvet to wrap yourself in.
Even taking a bath.
Journal therapy is a good way to help with a lot of issues in life: relationships, illnesses, stresses. I’ve found that writing down the days worries or struggles can help you overcome them. I never used to be much of a journal keeper, but I've found it so helpful in the past few months.
Listening to music might be one of my favourite ways to recuperate after a long day. Certain songs have the ability to transport me back to a specific time and place, and that nostalgic feeling I get is big enough to overcome any negative thought running through my mind. If you have a song or favourite band that reminds you of happy things, turn up the volume and press play.
There is nothing better than reading a good book when you're worrying. You’ll realise that after a few minutes, your mind has completely rerouted itself. You are now lost in the pages of a story instead of the busy pages of work.
Seriously though. Put it away. We look at the tiny bright screens enough during the course of the day, so let it fade to black when you get home in the evening. The work emails can wait, and do we really need to refresh our bloglovin' feeds 10 times in a row? Trust me, I am guilty of this one. Some nights, I’ll find myself staring at the technological rectangle for so long that the screen actually starts to turn blurry from eye strain. Put it down and leave it be. You may be surprised how much better you feel after disconnecting from the outside world to enjoy your immediate one.
Sometimes it’s okay to just sit somewhere and do absolutely nothing. Your body needs a break, so give it a break. You can take this time to focus on your breathing, reflect on good things, and just let it all go.