Four Ways to Reduce Anxiety, Tension and Chaos

Issue 9. January 27, 2023 ✨ Higher Power Coaching & Consulting

photo credit: Noah Terricks

If you’re filled with tension, anxiety and have a life of chaos and don’t know why, perhaps learning to keep the focus on yourself will help.

For me, keeping the focus on myself in the here and now has given me lots of energy, peace and serenity. Focusing outside ourselves can be anxiety-provoking and create tension. That’s because trying to control things we can’t is an endless energy drain.

Learning to keep the focus on yourself is much more complex than it may sound. You can’t just decide to do it and then do it. I’ll describe four ways I’ve learned to keep the focus on myself and how you might use them.

1. Focusing on what you want and need right now.
Before recovery, I was thinking more about what other people wanted or needed, or what was best for them or the situation. For example, if someone asks you to volunteer for something check in with yourself first before deciding. Do you have the time, energy and interest for this opportunity? You’re not a bad person if you say no.

2.Minding your own business.
I used to “stick my nose into other people’s business” all the time before recovery. Typically, I was trying to fix or rescue someone. What a drain on my energy! If you’re “just trying to help” or “just making suggestions” that’s you NOT minding your own business. If you truly want to help others, be sure to get their consent first.

Ask, “are you looking for advice, or just venting?” or perhaps “I have some ideas, would you like to hear them?”

I’ve been amazed at how much it drained my energy to “stick my nose” into other people’s business and how much more energy I have now that I stay in my lane.

3.Determining what you might be doing to make situations worse, rather than better.
In recovery we call this understanding “my part” in things. This has been, by far, my greatest gift of recovery. Before recovery, I honestly didn’t know that I was doing anything to create the chaos in my life. In fact, I didn’t even realize I had lots of chaos – that’s just how things were!

I was a rescuer and a fixer so I attracted chaotic people. It’s no wonder, because healthy, stable people don’t need or want to be rescued or fixed!

One thing that always made me pissed off when driving is that I’d leave with barely enough time to get to my destination. Then I heard someone in recovery say, “When I’m on time, everyone else is driving just fine!” So now I leave with plenty of time to get to my destination. I also expect there to be traffic and don’t get pissed off when there is.

4.Practicing consistent self-care.
If I were to boil down 12-step recovery into one thing, I’d say it has to do with self-care and loving yourself.

Self-care is not selfish. I’m not sure where that myth originated, but it’s got to stop. Self-care is actually selfless. When you take care of yourself first, you’re full of energy and abundance. That means you have more to give. When you don’t practice self-care, you’re often depleted and resentful.

Practicing consistent self care means I …

  • No longer forgo taking care of my physical needs for nutrition, exercise and sleep
  • Make time to attend to my spiritual needs in whatever way gives me energy and make me feel connected to the universe.
  • Make time to connect with others who give me energy rather than those who drain my energy.
  • Having regular leisure time during which I pursue things that bring me joy

Behavior change takes time and patience, for certain, but change also requires action. Commit to taking at least one small action once you’ve identified an area where you can better keep the focus on yourself.

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