I’ve been thinking this week about the easing of lockdown, and how things are opening up here in the UK. Many, I am aware, are a bit anxious about this prospect. I personally have been noticing my anxiety levels rise this week for a multitude of reasons. So today’s newsletter includes a few thoughts about recognising and managing anxious habits, and some beautiful words I came across in a reading recently. Enjoy!
I’m bringing you another pearl of wisdom from a Happynesshub favourite, the Greater Good for Science Centre at Berkeley. I was doing some research around how to manage anxiety in the wake of the changing restrictions, whilst also ever aware that there are many tips and tools out there – so I was keen to find something new! And I stumbled across this article that I think looks at things slightly differently, discussing how, before you can implement techniques for alleviating anxiety, it’s good to first be aware of ‘How Anxiety Hides in your Habits.’ It’s based on the thoughts of a new book by Judson Brewer, ‘Unwinding Anxiety.’ He argues that ‘implementing tips and tools skips an important step… before we can try to change anything, we have to spend some time observing our anxiety-related habits.’
So the thinking goes, many of our habits have developed to help us reduce stress or satisfy emotional needs. But this does not mean they are healthy. Brewer talks about a 3 step loop: a trigger, a behaviour and a result. One example that certainly resonated with me was:
Trigger: Feel anxious
Behaviour: Worry (ruminate on what is wrong / will go wrong)
Result: Feel more anxious!
Many such habitual patterns may exist within our lives and Brewer suggests we must become aware of these anxiety habit loops and introduce more rewarding behaviours. Do take a read here of the article to find a fuller explanation and some interesting examples that may too resonate with you!
On another note, I also wanted to drop in a little message that I stumbled across recently. This passage of writing has apparently been circulating the Internet, attributed to the Pope, but is actually a translation of a work by Poruguese poet Fernando Pessoa. You can read the full text and more about this curious mix-up here, but I’ve got a few lines from it below to leave you with:
‘Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without a storm, a road without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments. To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord. It is not only to enjoy the smile, but also to reflect on the sadness. It is not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures. It is not only to feel happy with the applause, but to be happy in anonymity. Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but an achievement for those who can travel within themselves. To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and become your destiny’s author.’