I just signed up for Sharon Salzberg’s 28 day meditation challenge. Want to join me? After you sign up, she’ll send you a daily meditation in the form of a 5-10 minute audio file. This mornings was 8 minutes with an intro – easy peasy. Research has been busting at the seams with all the benefits of meditation. 5-10 minutes a day. That’s not so bad, is it? Join me!
So, how have you been doing since the US Presidential Inauguration on the 20th? Like many of us, I’ve been in a whirlwind of stress as each new day we’re surprised by a new atrocity. Most of the time, our anxiety is based on something irrational and despite our worst fears and imaginings, things turn out all right. But this political climate is different. Our country needs us to stand up for all human rights, acceptance, inclusivity and love. And, action always feels better than being frozen in fear.
Let’s look at some ways to get involved!
Donate to your charity of choice. Some of my favorites are Doctors without Borders, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. Be a micro-philanthropist – even $10 makes a difference. And you can be creative – maybe you can’t drop $120, but you could consider a scheduled donation of $10 a month.
Join the Women’s Movement and commit to 10 actions for the first 100 days. The first action is simple – write down your thoughts and ideas on postcards about what’s important to you and how’ll you stand up and fight. Then send them to your Senators – easy peasy! Want to take it a step further? Host a postcard writing party or potluck!
Keep up the Momentum:
Here are two great sites for daily and weekly calls to action:
*Subscribe to Project 1461 for their Daily Call to Action.
*Sign up for Jen Hofmann’s Weekly Action Checklist for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans of Conscience.
Stay Inspired – check out Vox as they interview young people during the Women’s March.
Maintain Balance – don’t forget to take good care of yourself. It’s going to be a long haul.
Check out this little superhero – a wise teacher (at the ripe old age of 9) who shows us how to use self talk when facing challenges! Love her!
This weekend’s reading material theme is getting comfortable with discomfort.
To start us off, check out Reid Wilson‘s new blog on Psychology Today – his latest post is titled “Winning the Battle Inside Your Mind”. It’s the story of how Reid, a psychologist & anxiety expert, worked through his own experience of panic, finding a way to Keep Going when his brain was shouting inside to stop.
Next up we have Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. I love the title of this post – “Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe“. I saved this to Pocket a while ago & find myself referencing his ideas whenever I need a boost. If you can master that everyday moment of discomfort – whether it’s anxiety, procrastination or prioritizing what’s important -nothing will stop you from achieving your goals and living a big life.
Finally, check out: “How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym“. In it, Brad Stulberg reminds us that what we gain most from exercise isn’t just physical fitness – it’s the ability to sit with and even embrace discomfort in life whenever it pops up. And, if you didn’t get a chance to read Healthy Habits in September, there are many more links to articles on the benefits of exercise & meditation in combatting depression & anxiety.
Happy Reading and have a beautiful weekend!
Have you heard of The November Project?
The November Project gathers people on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6:30am in cities across globe to run stairs, hills, and whoop it up as they meet their fitness goals and create life long friendships.
Reading this article and thinking about my own DIY anxiety support group started my wheels turning – why not create a November Project style group to help people face their fears and phobias? Community exposure work! Imagine showing up at 6:30am on a Monday morning and riding elevators for an hour with a bunch of folks who also feel panicky about elevators. Or, meeting to walk across that scary pedestrian bridge with 50 new friends who don’t like heights, but are all hooting and hollering “Keep Going!”. Agoraphobic? How about an urban hike and throwing in a little social anxiety work with conversation at a local coffee shop afterwards.
Let those images sink in. That good exposure work would happen a few times a week, be done in community and finished before you even started your work day. How powerful would that be? This is taking the idea of a DIY anxiety support group one big step further. Imagine the decrease in isolation – people who get it! And the increase in people’s ability to tolerate discomfort and anxiety through consistent work in facing their fears.
I’m going to keep my wheels turning and see what I can create. How about you? Is this a project you could start in your city or home town with the common goal of mental fitness and well being? Without fear standing in your way, imagine the possibilities!
Recently, I posted a page called “Finding Help” which talks about the steps to finding a great therapist. But, maybe you’re more of a self help kind of person and just want a community of people who you can talk to openly about life, including anxiety. Pull up a chair and let’s talk!
A few years ago, I invited some fellow Anxiety Girls to work through Reid Wilson’s book “Don’t Panic” and set exposure goals for ourselves. There’s just something about being accountable to someone else that helps with goal setting in any arena. It’s also comforting to talk with people who really get it. My sister-in-law & I joke that it’s nice to have people with whom you can let your crazy out. Because whether or not you can see it – we all have a little crazy.
We met for coffee every other week, at first, to discuss the book and our goals. As we got more comfortable and grew in our relationships, we hit the roads to do some exposure work together – highways, bridges, traveling distances were all part of our repertoire.
The group joined me as I drove highway routes and bridges that bothered me. Another time, we literally drove back and forth across the same bridge for 45 minutes, coaching and cheering on another Anxiety Girl as she faced her fears.
Life has gotten busy, though, and there are times where we don’t meet for months. That’s just the way it goes. But, it never seems to fail that one of us sends a a catch up email or text.
This past winter, we sat down in the hopefulness of a new year and imagined doing something big like an Anxiety Girl road trip. Laughing, we envisioned a reality show based on our superheroes. Anxiety girls take off cross country in an RV, armed only with a GoPro camera, travel journals and lots of snacks. By the time we got to the west coast, surely we would be anxiety free!
One of us said, “Yes! That sounds amazing – AND – what steps can we take right now to work toward something bigger? What if we started with a smaller road trip? You know, just for the day? Getting out of town would target highway driving & traveling distances, while we got to spend time together. And maybe we could go for a hike & grab brunch.” A month later, two of us took that trip! We both had moments of high anxiety and had a fabulous time!
In the future, we’re hoping to plan an adventure by plane or train. Or maybe we’ll take that cross country trip. Who knows? You may find us riding roller coasters & sky diving this time next year. 🙂
So, getting back to you . . .
Are you finding yourself facing anxiety alone and wanting community? Maybe it’s time to gather a few friends and start your own DIY anxiety support group.
I’ll be honest, this wasn’t my first attempt. I gathered some folks together many years ago to work through a workbook. It was great at first, but not everyone worked at the same rate. Some folks wanted to talk but not do the workbook. Others were uncomfortable hearing about other people’s fears. Life got busy, then it just fizzled. I really hungered for community, though, so I tried again a few years later and it took.
Here are some tips for getting started:
*If a DIY support group is in your future, start by talking to a few people who are interested in getting together to talk about anxiety.
*If you don’t think you know anyone with anxiety (really?), start by trying to open up the topic (when appropriate), step back and listen. Oftentimes you’ll find an “in” and people are relieved to know they’re not alone.
*Invite people to get together wherever suits – go for a hike, head to a coffee shop, meet out for a drink.
*Share what feels comfortable. Listen. See what people are looking for in a support group. Do your expectations match up?
*Maybe this becomes an anxiety book group. If so, check out the list of books in the sidebar, titled “Bookshelf” for inspiration or find a book that works for your group.
*Maybe this is a goal setting group with regular check ins for accountability.
*Maybe folks just want to get together socially and talk with others who get it.
*And maybe you want to go crazy, get out in the world and do some exposure work together.
Whatever you do, go find your people! It may take time. It may not take at first. It might be just 2 or 3 of you. That’s ok. Make the time to get together and support each other. A bigger life is out there waiting for you!
Want to read more about DIY anxiety support groups? Check out this great article by Jessica Spires about how she started an informal support group in a pub. If you’re someone who wants something more formal, check out this thorough guideline on creating peer support groups.
In the rush of September, I’ve been thinking more about what makes me feel my best and what kind of daily habits I consistently follow. In my head, I’m a person who meditates, exercises, prioritizes relationships and creates time for myself, but in actuality, I tend to go to bed way too late, skip meditating because I missed my “window of opportunity” and get my work done at home in front a computer screen instead of getting out and being with people.
A few days ago, though, I stole away for 15 minutes and meditated between getting my older two kids out the door. After walking the youngest to school, I got a text from a friend asking if I could go for a walk. A chance for exercise and social contact – yes! We walked for over an hour, caught up and discussed an upcoming project. I came back home feeling so much more energized with a happy outlook on life.
It’s not rocket science, right? But somehow it becomes difficult to make time for self care – even when we know that taking care of ourselves makes us happier people, easier to live with and more productive to boot. Seems like lots of folks have been thinking about how healthy habits like meditation, movement and sleep can affect overall health and outlook.
Here are a few reads to check out this week:
*I popped onto a blog I like called Hey Sigmund the other day and followed a link to this article on how exercise and mindfulness meditation can significantly drop rates of depression. The study referenced looked at how a consistent course of exercise and meditation effected people with and without symptoms of depression. Check out the link to see what they discovered & then also look at this article on exercise and anti-depressants.
*Taking exercise farther, Outside magazine online talks about finding ways to add movement throughout your work day. It’s not that getting an hour run in the morning doesn’t cut it, it’s just that slow, constant motion throughout the day, in a variety of positions, can greatly increase our overall health and wellbeing.
*The Chopra Center discusses the benefits of exercise, meditation and healthy eating for anxiety reduction.
*Need help finding ways to make your habits stick? Gretchen Rubin has a few free downloads to help us on our way.
How about you? What makes you feel your best and what’s stopping you from making those healthy habits a part of your daily life?