So many these days are desperate to jump on the “digital nomad” express train to freedom. And so often, this freedom is represented by removing themselves from an anxiety-provoking environment. However, more often than not, this strategy is anxiety-inducing in itself as many new struggles are met without having taken the time to properly understand the problem in the first place.
I could list off 35 behaviors you could adopt to drastically reduce your anxiety but I don’t want to freak you out and make you more anxious by over-complicating the shit. This is the problem with modern day economics – the ruthlessness in which one will go after the sore points and that which creates fear to sell a product that generates happiness. The engine runs on fear, and the solution is always happiness. Two fleeting emotions form the pendulum in which this motherfucker we call life, swings. And you have to form a healthy relationship with both, which in turn, will alleviate anxiety. And personal development or self-help just might be the deadliest of all industries because it often sells perfection. Much of anxiety is individualistic and subjective to many variables. A quick intervention with someone who recently started having panic attacks is often enough to abolish them, whereas if your anxiety stems from deep-rooted traumas, more work will be required.
This is the shitty side of being an adult because regardless of how you ended up here – only you can do something about it.
Here are five tips to help you find a greater peace of mind without divulging into the complexities and second-guessing your circumstances.
Next time you see a baby, observe how they breathe. Their full diaphragmatic breathing is flawless – just how our engineer intended. But then life happens, postures get bent out of shape, and the breath becomes shallow. You don’t have to be an “enlightened soul” to meditate. And whether you’re into that hippy-dippy shit or not, the benefits are very real so it’s best to get onboard because our breath plays a vital role in controlling emotions and keeping anxiety at bay.
Let me quickly draw your attention to the amygdala – a little nugget in your brain that gets pissed off when stressed, and instructs the adrenal glands to trigger the dreaded ‘fight or flight’ response. Our minds are a bit simple when it comes to evolution – they still think it’s a fucking Jungle out there, so while a boost of adrenaline might be beneficial if you bumped into a Grizzly Bear and her cubs, it’s not altogether necessary for a chill evening in with some Netflix. Meditation has been shown, through brain scanning imagery, to turn down your trigger-happy amygdala and therefore reduce anxiety. If that’s not incentive enough to light some candles and breathe – I don’t know what is.
2. Change your environment
In my experience, the very worst thing I can do when my anxiety peaks is to sit with it and allow my thoughts to become all-consuming. Sure, you’ve got to put on your Inspector Gadget hat and investigate the cause, but there’s a time and place. By changing your environment, you can break the patterns of your thoughts. Feeling anxious at your computer? Take a walk, do some yoga, grab lunch with friends. Whatever it is you love to do – do that. The “suck it up” macho mentality only ends up making shit worse so if you’re feeling off, respect that and indulge in some self-care. You’ll be far more productive when you sit back down to work as a result.
3. Surround yourself with good people
What do you value more than anything? For most, it’s our relationships. The rent-a-friend thing is really prevalent when one is on the road — such is the beauty of joining co-working spaces like Dojo. There are lots of like-minded people here with similar values to meet and bond with immediately. Sure, you may have to simmer through the crowd to find the ones you gravitate towards and feel most comfortable with, but the sooner you do this, the better your experience will be.
“Nobody gives a fuck about what you love unless you can offer them significant value.”
4. Find Balance
Many entrepreneurs, or whatever, come here with big ambitions and get super stressed when the realization kicks in that this stuff is actually much harder than that which was sold to them. “Just do what you love and everything will be awesome – I did!” In theory, that’s great, but nobody gives a fuck about what you love unless you can offer them significant value. Everything takes time. The goal should be to enjoy the present and not allow yourself to be completely consumed by the destination. Tony Robbins says we over-estimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can achieve in a lifetime. I like Tony. Gary Vee will say you’re a lazy sack of shit if you don’t work 17 hours a day, 365 days a year. Both Gary and his ego can fuck off as far as I’m concerned, and if you want to reduce your anxiety – you should give serious consideration to those people of influence you follow. Life is a journey. Work towards your goals but be sure to enjoy the ride. And accept there will always be some struggle.
5. Embrace your individuality
There isn’t much worse for your health than pretending to be someone else to appeal to someone else. Embrace who you are. So much energy is wasted trying to look good for others – to have the perfect career, partner, car, house, etc. Or making sure your Instagram account is one to be envious of. Fuck a filter – what use is it if you’re in a constant state of anxiety? You don’t have to pretend to be great all the time. At this rate, future gravestones will probably read, “died depressed, but fuck, their Instagram was da bomb!”
Living a conceptual life might work for others, but it’s detrimental to your health. The stress of all this is palpable, and the evidence is all around you.
By embracing your individuality, you open yourself up to a world of people that will accept and appreciate you – for you. And therefore, your quality of life will shoot up.
Don’t opt to be miserable for the sake of others. Quit your job. End a relationship. Do what you want, but do it for you. Remove the word cool from your vocabulary and think for a minute what is it you want from your time here. Nobody’s opinion should carry the weight of your health. It starts and ends with you, and it sure as shit won’t change without you calling the shots. This is your mental health. And only you can improve it. It might not be easy, but a little work goes a long way, and it’s far better than your other options.
Also published on Medium.