For when you are overwhelmed and life feels insurmountable…

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“Bend, not break. Be like water and flow.” – Bruce Lee

Water takes the shape of the of the object it is placed into, adapting to the needs of the environment. Even when you plan for everything life often has other plans for you, and things may not always go the way you want.

Did you know that anxiety tends to accumulate in your shoulders, making us feel like we are literally carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders? I started noticing this when I worry about certain things or get anxious about an upcoming presentation. I worry that I may mess things up somehow or make things worse. And the more I worry, the more the knot tightens, and that leads to panic, forgetfulness, insomnia or stress eating. Phew. [Eats cupcake].

I found this really great tip from Olivia Fox-Cabane’s book The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism. This visualization exercise works better in a quite space where you are able to concentrate for a few minutes without being interrupted. The first step of healing is always acknowledging the pain. With your eyes closed, begin by picturing the thing you are worrying about as a heavy box or object that is sitting on your shoulders. Feel the heaviness of this box and all the expectations that weigh you down, causing this mental and physical strain in you.

The next step is to visualize a divine element such as a God/Goddess, The Universe, a Genie, whatever entity you have faith in, and imagine yourself lifting the heavy box off of your shoulders and placing it on the shoulders of the entity. Feel the lightness of your shoulders. You can rotate your neck, stretch, whatever feels right at that moment. This releases the control you have over the outcome of your performance and allows you to relax, knowing that things will fall perfectly into place.

The more I do this exercise the better I have become at dealing with stressful situations. I can let go of my anxieties about the outcome and focus on being present and adaptable to any type of situation.

Do you have any strategies on coping with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below.