For most of my life, I thought anxiety was just part of my personality. A tendency I couldn’t control, and whose voice would pop into my head unexpectedly to ruin my day.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about managing anxiety, but it still finds its way into my life in more subtle ways.
Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the practice of redirecting my mind. When I’m out on a trail, I’ve been playing around with holding my attention on something different every few minutes.
Sometimes I’ll pay really close attention to my feet. The way they feel in my shoes, the way they propel me forward or absorb the impact of each step. My mind wanders almost instantly and I just bring it back to my feet.
This practice, of course, has nothing to do with my feet. It’s training for my off-trail life. My little mental game has me seeing anxiety, as well as it’s cousins worry and self-doubt, in a completely different light.
I’m realizing that instead of waiting for the anxiety to creep in and hoping I notice it before I’m hijacked, I can start the day by saying, “Today, I will focus on X” then every time I notice myself thinking about the rest of the alphabet, I bring myself back to X.
When I decide what to think ahead of time, I feel proactive instead of reactive.
What a treat it is to feel like I’m the one calling the shots, instead of anxiety, worry or doubt.