Conscious Living 101: Simple Questions & Little Steps to Reduce Anxiety
Conscious Living, also known as mindfulness or self-awareness, is the act of being fully aware of oneself and one's surroundings. Sounds like common sense, but in our busy world, it can be difficult to be fully present all of the time. So often, we get distracted by worries over the future or bogged down by memories of the past. These constant distractions are a major cause of anxiety.
As someone who has suffered with anxiety most of my life, I never realized how much it was affecting my body until I became chronically ill and, as a result, had to step away from my business. Through my journey back to wellness, I learned a few simple, practical techniques to ease my anxiety and help me to live a more conscious, present life.
It all starts with checking-in with yourself by asking a few key questions. I often to come back to these questions to recenter myself, and I use the answers to plan actions that guide me towards a more fulfilling life.
Am I taking care of my health?
We often get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to slow down and take care of ourselves. We treat our bodies like machines that don’t need fuel or maintenance. We might skip a meal here or there, forget to exercise, or sleep less than we need to in the name of getting more things done. We aren’t machines, so to function optimally, we have to invest time in the basics: eating regularly and well, making time to move, and getting enough rest each night. Don’t feel guilty for setting aside time to take better care of yourself, everyone around you will be happier if you’re happier, and you’ll be surprised how much more you can do when you are feeling your best.
Take one little step: It can be as simple as buying a healthy cookbook, taking your dog out for longer walks, or sipping on some bedtime tea a half hour earlier than your usual lights-out.
Is my career fulfilling?
We spend about one third of our lives at the workplace (that’s a huge chunk!), which makes it vital to your mental health and physical wellbeing that you feel fulfilled by the work you do and valued by those you work for. That isn’t always the case, and we all have to make a living. Think about your goals and how you can take steps to achieve them, whether it’s getting the education you need for the job you really want or finally asking for that raise you know you deserve. In the meantime, focus on the things you do like at work, whether it is a colleague or the chances you have to improve the lives of those around you with a smile. Finding fulfillment and hope in your work is crucial for your daily state of mind.
Take one little step: Find one thing you love about your work and make time for it every day, whether that is a coffee break with a co-worker, a creative pet project you want to develop, or listening to your favorite music while completing your most tedious tasks.
Are my relationships symbiotic?
Are your relationships draining you more than they are feeding you? Hopefully, they are in balance with mutual give and take, but often we have at least one relationship that leaves us feeling depleted . Ask yourself if there a healthier dynamic you can apply to your current relationships. This might involve asking for a little more give, which can be difficult if you have already established a codependent dynamic. You may you need to distance yourself temporarily from some people in order to gain insight into what is leaving you feeling exhausted, rather than energized, after interactions.
Take one little step: Spend more time with people who make you feel good. Set up a standing coffee date with friends who give you hope and joy, and invest in developing new relationships with people who build you up. The more healthy relationships you have in your life, the more obvious the toxic ones will be, and the easier it will be to create distance from them or establish better boundaries.
Am I making time for fun?
Even though fun itself could be reason enough, did you know that taking time to play provides many health benefits from reducing stress to improving mood? In a society where we place a high value on work ethic, it is pretty common to forgo fun in favor of working over-time. By the end of the day, many of us just want to go home and zone out. Weekends can easily be lost to a laundry list of chores and to-do lists, but making time to add play time can be the difference between falling into an energy-zapping routine, and enjoying a full balanced life.
Take one little step: Whether it’s a dance, yoga, or painting class that you’ve been eyeing, checking out a new restaurant with a friend, going for a hike, or taking a weekend a road trip, plan one fun activity each week. It is amazing how just having something to look forward to will make you feel happier.
Does my home feel like a home?
Your home should be your sanctuary, your retreat, your palace, even if it’s a studio apartment. At the end of a long day’s work, we need to be able to come home to comfort, ease, and the little luxuries a home provides.Coming home to a place that doesn’t feel like home, especially if it is cluttered, can cause anxiety and prevent the rest and relaxation you need each day. It doesn’t have to be your dream home to feel like your home. Things as simple as making your bed everyday, organizing your space, and buying a few little treats like fresh flowers or good linen can go long way in making a place feel like your own.
Take one little step: Surround yourself with little things that make you happy, from aromatic candles to a favorite art print to soft to high thread count sheets. When you look around your space, whether small or large, there should be visual cues that fill you with good memories, positive associations, and the simple joy of everyday beauty.