As a society in America we have become adapted to living a super fast paced rushed life. Everyone is running late for something, trying to meet a deadline that was yesterday, and constantly wired to the world. Why did we become like this and why is it so hard to stop? How often has someone honked at you the second the light turned green or speed around you because you stopped at a stop sign? Seriously… few things are so important that you should risk getting into an accident for.
For the last year I have been actively working on improving myself. I have dealt with anxiety for as long as I could remember. Something small would go wrong and it would upset me or cause me to worry more than it should. I am someone who is extremely detail oriented, constantly aware of my surroundings, always on time, always follows the rules, gets the job done, and completes every task to the absolute best of my ability. While I know many of these qualities about me are great and I would like to keep them I have also come to accept that things are going to happen out of my control. And when they do, I don’t need to find a way to control the situation. Today I can finally say I know that I am changing for the better.
This morning when I went to go to work I had the happy realization that I had a completely flat tire. A year ago I would have likely instantly become anxious and worried about being late for work, worried about the cost of the repair, and wondering how I could have prevented something completely out of my control. This morning, the flat tire only created a minor annoyance in my day. Instead of focusing on the negatives and the things I could not have prevent I focused on the realities of the situation. Is my job going to fall apart if I am late? Will I be punished? No, that is extremely silly. I took time to appreciate that I was healthy and safe. If I made it to work in one piece that is all that matters.
We have to slow down and not get so angry the second something takes us off our fast track or doesn’t go as we expected. I recently read that more millennials are having strokes. As a physical therapist in an inpatient rehab unit I can personally say I have treated people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who have had strokes. I can’t help but to think that our lifestyle has assisted in creating this scary fact. Everyone is in a rush, stressed at work, stressed about money, and constantly living on the go. This usually results in poor eating choices and lack of exercise, which also negatively affects our health. So I am here to tell you to put yourself first and use your health as the biggest reason. You don’t need a stroke, health scare, or car accident to be the thing that finally slows you down.
Here are some things that I have done to work on this:
Find at least 1 thing in your day that you appreciate
Trust me, I am the last person you need to tell that life is stressful and truly sucks sometimes. But I have made it a point to focus on something positive at least once a day. Weather it be the nature around me as I walk my dog or swimming in the pool or appreciating my time to spend playing with my dog. I need something to pull me out of the negatives and to place my focus on.
Take at least 5 minutes to yourself
Don’t look at your phone, don’t have the TV on (unless it is some type of relaxing sound track!), don’t think about work/ school, don’t think about everything that has to be done that day or past regrets. If listening to a meditation tape helps you, go for it! I like to focus on my breathing and perform stretches.
Live in the moment
Focus on what you are doing right now and not the 20 other things you have to do. I am working on not dual tasking while I am doing something like eating meals. Why shouldn’t I be able to take 10 minutes and not be on the internet in some way while I am eating dinner? Another way I see this is not getting anger or road rage when there is an accident. My destination will still be there when I get there. If I am stuck in traffic because of an accident I see it as time to enjoy music I like. I sure as heck am happy I am not the person in the accident because my time delay isn’t quite as bad as that guys present situation. I am one who never stays late at work unless asked to work overtime. Last Friday I had a lot of documentation to complete and couldn’t get out on time. Instead of stressing and trying to rush my documentation I remembered what is the worst that is going to happen? My boss says something to me? I don’t think a one time occurrence will get me fired.
Focus on the why
Why are you doing what you are doing? What is the goal you are striving for? Instead of seeing everyday as something just to get done and over with remember why you are doing these things in the first place. When things get stressful or you feel like you will never get over your current hurdle, remember the big picture of what you are working toward and how much closer you have gotten from when you started. Right now I am working 2 jobs as I am working toward my goal of getting rid of my student loans and then saving up to move. When I get overwhelmed with work I remember what I am working toward. But I have also learned to recognize when my body needs some time to rest and to not agree to pick up that extra shift last minute.
Don’t listen to other people and take criticism with a grain of salt
I have become so much happier when I began doing things for me and stopped caring what other people think of me. As long as I am not hurting anyone else (or myself) why should I care what others have to say? It is my life and I hope one day I can look back and know I did the things that make me happy. Don’t let others negativity ruin your day. When someone criticizes something you did try to reflect on it, grow from it, and know that not everyone will see the world the way you do.
“The faster we live, the less emotion is left in the world. The slower we live, the deeper we feel the world around us.” Stanko Abadžic