Let’s be real, we’d all like to experience a little more peace in our lives, right? Especially since the world has felt and has been so chaotic and overwhelming for some time now. Well, a month or so ago, my mind and body were craving peace. And I don’t find myself in this space often, but when I do, I know that it’s incredibly important for me to slow down and take some time to reflect and evaluate things. I want to walk you through what this process looks like for me, as well as give you some tips, in hopes that what I share will help you to let go of some of the stress, anxiety, and overwhelm that you may be experiencing, and help you to feel and experience more peace.
Alright, like I said, I always start by pausing, and then I check in with myself and I evaluate how I really feel. And I say how I really feel because we often say we’re fine or okay when we know that we aren’t fine or okay. We don’t really pause and take the time to get present, get curious, ask ourselves helpful questions, and really listen to the responses. Slowing down, getting curious, asking yourself helpful questions, and really listening to your honest responses helps you to then process how you’re feeling which is such an important piece of supporting you and your mental health. Because you can’t experience more peace if you aren’t allowing yourself to feel what you're currently feeling.
I like to start by asking myself questions like… Am I feeling any tension? Where am I feeling tension? Am I feeling fatigued? Am I lacking energy? Am I feeling less motivated? Am I feeling overwhelmed? Am I not enjoying things that I normally enjoy? Am I having a tough time relaxing? Am I feeling anxious (or more anxious)? And remember, when you ask yourself these questions, really make sure to listen to your responses. These questions and your responses will help you to acknowledge and feel your emotions, which will then help you to cultivate more of the emotions that you want to feel.
Along with these questions, I also like to ask myself some follow-up questions. Things like… What have I been dedicating my time and focus to? What are my expectations of myself and others, and are they realistic? What have I been deeming as “less important” or “more important?” What are some things that might be causing me to feel stressed and overwhelmed? Have I been asking for help and support? Am I sticking to the boundaries that I’ve set? Do I need to set new, healthy boundaries? And the list goes on!
When I slow down and answer these questions honestly, it helps me to get honest with myself, and it helps me to then identify some healthy actions that I can take to experience more peace. We often stay on the hamster wheel of stress and overwhelm because we don’t slow down enough to get present, to feel and honor our emotions, to see what we could be doing differently, and to acknowledge that we have control of changing how we feel with our actions, behaviors, habits, and patterns.
Okay, after I’ve allowed myself to pause and get really present, to acknowledge what’s going on, to feel my emotions, and to get some helpful insights, I then allow my insights and answers to lead me to take some more healthy actions. Let me share some things with you that have recently helped me to experience more peace, in hopes that they help you to experience more peace, too.
Anxiety Recovery: If You're Seeking More Peace and Less Anxiety, Listen to This
01. Spending less time on my phone and social media, and instead spending more time doing things that bring me joy.
Admittedly, sometimes I hate how much time I spend on my phone, more specifically on social media. And oftentimes I don’t even spend that much time on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I think that social media can be a beautiful place for connection and insight, but I also know that too much of it negatively affects my mental health.
For you, maybe this one resonates with you in the sense that you’re spending lots of time on social media, constantly searching for the next piece of wisdom, or tip, or tool, or insight that will lead to your healing. You may find yourself not wanting to miss a post, and so you make sure to look at certain account’s posts each day because they may share something that may help you incredibly and you don’t want to miss it. You may find yourself scrolling endlessly, trying to learn as much as you can so that you can “fix” what you’re struggling with. Or you may simply be spending lots of time scrolling on social media in an attempt to distract yourself and avoid feeling anxious or to avoid facing the hard stuff, which you already know isn’t a healthy choice.
So, you’ve probably heard this already but I’m going to say it anyway, but social media isn’t where the healing happens. Sure, my account as well as many others can be helpful, but the true healing work happens outside of social media. Your time is going to be best spent off of social, not seeking or avoiding, and instead doing the actual work. And another important thing to note is that when you’re constantly looking outside of yourself for insight, wisdom, tips, and tools, it prevents you from looking within yourself, and listening to and trusting yourself. You hold so much wisdom and power within yourself, and I don’t want you to overlook it. So remind yourself that although what you take in on social media can be helpful, what you can give yourself is even more helpful and powerful.
Alright, so what does spending less time on social media look like for me? Well, I have boundaries around how much time I spend on social media each day and when I spend time on social media. And I can’t say this enough, setting and sticking to healthy boundaries goes a long way for your mental and physical health! And sticking to these boundaries will then help you to use the time that you would be spending on social media, to instead spend it on your healing, and to things that actually bring you peace and joy. For example, for me, I love to write, and so my weekly newsletter is something that I really enjoy spending my time on and it’s something that makes me feel more connection, peace, and joy. Same for creating these podcast episodes!
And real quick, if you aren’t already on my email list, you have to get on my email list! I promise, I never send junk, only helpful tips, tools, and inspiration that will help you on your recovery journey. To get on my email list, simply click on the link in the show notes!
And some other things that bring me peace and joy… Spending time with family and with people who believe in me, listening to audio books, being in nature, laughing. I have to tell you… I’ve been watching lots of comedy skits lately and it’s just what I’ve needed. Laughter is something I think we all need lots more of. Sometimes I literally look at Amelia, my daughter, and I count how many times she smiles and laughs in a day and I’m like… She smiles and laughs all the freaking time! I want that! And I have to remind myself, I can have that, I just have to be present enough to experience more joy and laughter. And so I’ve been intentionally setting out to experience more of it. And it’s been absolutely wonderful!
Remember, healing happens outside of social media and off of your phone. So what are some things that you enjoy doing? What are things you want to spend more time doing? What are some things that make you laugh? What are some things that make you feel more peace and joy? Choose to do those things! Don’t consume yourself with your recovery. You’ll be surprised at how much healing happens when you aren’t consuming all of your time and energy on focusing on how to experience less anxiety, especially on social media. And remember, allow yourself to experience just how much wisdom and power you hold within yourself rather than constantly searching outside of yourself.
02. Acknowledging when I’m doubting myself or my capabilities, allowing myself to feel what I’m feeling, and then kicking self-doubt to the curb.
Self-doubt can really put a damper on things, am I right? For me, self-doubt has looked like… Second guessing myself, negative self-talk, blaming myself, avoiding challenges, thinking I don’t deserve things, reassurance seeking, thinking I’m not worthy of good things or that I’m not good enough (yeah, that one again). With lots of practice, I’ve gotten really good at acknowledging when self-doubt is present and recognizing it for what it is. And honestly, this is such an important piece of moving past self-doubt because you can’t move past it if you don’t recognize its presence.
Self-doubt can show up when you’re facing something new, or when you’re facing something that often leads to anxiety or fear, or even when you’ve faced something several times before (especially if things didn’t go how you planned or hoped they would). Self-doubt can have you questioning yourself, your decisions, and your capabilities. And it can lead to you feeling and actually being stuck.
One of the things I find most interesting about self-doubt is that it usually kicks up for lots of people, myself included, when you’re facing something that you’ve already faced before, sometimes many times before. And it’s funny because your brain does this interesting thing where it likes to forget that you’ve faced whatever it is before AND you got through it. And sure, it may not have looked pretty, or gone how you planned or hoped it would, but you faced it and you got through it. This is such an important thing to keep in mind when self-doubt rears its ugly head because you can then remind yourself, “Hey, we have been here before and we got through it! We can do this. Let’s do this!”
So what does it look like once I recognize that self-doubt has crept its way in? Well, I typically say to myself, “Self-doubt, I see you. I know that you want to protect me, and I appreciate it, but I’m incredibly capable, strong, and amazing. I don’t need you right now.” I find that calling it out and acknowledging its presence allows me to work through the feelings more quickly. And honestly, just acknowledging that it’s there but that I’m not going to allow it to continue to be present is huge!
And too, I often remind myself of why I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing, because my why (like I talked about in episode 20 of the podcast) is more powerful than the self-doubt. My why gives me such a sense of purpose and keeps me pushing forward even when I’m questioning myself, my decisions, and when things feel incredibly hard. I encourage you to define your why and your purpose… Why you are doing the work you’re doing. That way when self-doubt shows up (because it will), you can kick it to the curb and keep moving forward knowing that you’re doing what you’re doing for a reason.
Here’s the truth, it’s okay to doubt yourself or your capabilities at times, this is part of being human. But you have a choice in how you respond to self-doubt. Don’t allow it to prevent you from continuing to move forward. Acknowledge its presence and then send it on its way! And this next one ties nicely into this one…
03. Allowing myself to make mistakes and responding to them in a healthy way.
Tell me, how many times have you made a mistake and then quickly consumed yourself with it and beat yourself up? Yup, we all do it! I sometimes find myself down the rabbit hole of… “I can’t believe I did that! I suck!” Yeah, I really go there. Over the past year, I’ve gotten much better at responding in a healthier way to making mistakes. And this has looked like telling myself things like… This is hard. And I can’t change the fact that I made that decision, or that I did that, however I can choose to be gentle with myself and acknowledge that I can move forward and let go of the shame or guilt that I’m feeling.
So often it’s not the actual mistake that we’ve made that affects us the most, but it’s the shame or guilt that follows the mistake. And things like shame and guilt require lots of self-compassion. These feelings require you to remind yourself that you’re human and imperfect, and that it’s absolutely okay to be imperfect. These feelings require you to talk to yourself in a kind and compassionate way.
I know that you’ve probably heard this one before but there’s a reason for it. When you find yourself down the rabbit hole of I suck, pause and ask yourself… How would I respond to a friend who is experiencing what I’m experiencing? What you’d tell your friend is often much different than what you’d tell yourself, right? But the thing is, it shouldn’t be! You are worthy and deserving of kindness and compassion, just like your friend is. So practice responding to yourself in the way that you’d respond to a friend or loved one.
And yes, this work takes practice. But it’s important work, and you are worthy and deserving of this work. So the next time you make a mistake, practice acknowledging, allowing yourself to be human, and be kind to yourself. And I’ll be over here continuing to practice doing the same thing!
Oh, and remember this, the anxiety recovery journey isn’t about getting things “right.” The anxiety recovery journey is messy. It’s about making decisions, some healthy, some unhealthy. And it’s about being present enough to acknowledge when you’ve made an unhealthy one and responding to yourself with kindness. Your decisions, healthy or unhealthy, will teach you something. And it’s your job to be open to learning whatever the lesson is in front of you, because each lesson will help you to heal.
04. Facing what scares me rather than running.
You’re probably like… Shannon, facing the stuff that scares me does not lead to more peace! And yeah, I get it. But stick with me! We are human beings, and when things feel hard, or are new, or are scary, we have a tendency to want to walk the other way. And a huge piece of this is because our brains like sameness. It doesn’t like for things to be new and different, even though new and different is often really good for us in so many ways.
I want to share with you a little story. I recently went for a solo hike which is something that I don’t typically do. If I hike, it’s with Adam, my husband. But I had been wanting to do a solo hike for a while because (1) I enjoy hiking. (2) I enjoy time by myself, especially when I’m in nature. (3) I wanted to prove to myself that I can hike on my own.
And here’s how it went. The hike was about an hour and a half from my house. I felt a little anxious on the drive there and had thoughts about turning around and just saying forget it, but I continued on. When I got close to the mountain, I had a tough time finding the parking lot for the trailhead which caused me to feel a little anxious, but I called Adam and he helped me find the parking lot. As I started off on the hike, I felt a little scared about being alone, especially as a female, but I went prepared and these feelings slowly dissipated as I continued on my hike. After a couple of hours, I made it to the top of the mountain and I felt so incredibly proud of myself. I did it! I felt anxious, scared, and a little overwhelmed at times, but I did it anyway!
So the hike wasn’t full of peace, but that’s okay, because I didn’t expect it to be! I knew that I’d feel a little anxious, scared, and overwhelmed at times, but I welcomed those feelings in and I allowed them to tag along with me and I did it anyway. And this is really the key. Oftentimes whatever you’re facing will lead to feelings of anxiety, fear, and overwhelm before or during the experience, and things may even feel chaotic or out of control, but it’s important to not let these feelings make the decisions for you. Instead, allow the feelings to join you and continue on facing the thing that scares you.
And you know what, I’ll keep doing solo hikes and I’ll keep welcoming the feelings along with me until they get the message that I’m perfectly safe hiking solo. And it may take three solo hikes, but it may take ten or twenty. But I’m going to keep doing it because doing the things I enjoy doing in life is so important to me, and I won’t allow fear to stop me from doing them.
I want you to take a second and acknowledge this truth, what’s on the other side of fear is often a whole lot of peace, joy, and freedom. What’s on the other side of fear are things that are really important to you, things that you value a whole ton. So the next time you’re facing something that scares you, welcome in the anxiety and fear and do it anyway! It’s so important to prove to you and to your brain that you’re absolutely capable of facing hard things, even while feeling scared or anxious.
05. Taking a vacation day, or two, or three!
When was the last time you took a planned mental health day? I’m not talking about a mental health day where you wake up and you feel like you’re going to implode, and so you call out of work or you cancel whatever your responsibilities are for the day, and you instead lay in bed all day because you’re exhausted and beyond depleted. I’m instead talking about a planned mental health day, or days, or weeks, where you sit down in advance and you figure out when you can take some time off of work, or take time away from your kids, or take time away from it all, to spend some time with yourself or with your loved ones, doing things that will nourish your mental and physical health? Sounds magical huh? Yeah, it is magical. And you are deserving of magical things.
So here’s a little truth about me… I’m an achiever, and it’s really easy for me to get caught up and consumed in my work, so much so that I don’t take time away from it. And a big part of this is because I love my work, but I know that consuming myself with my work every day all day isn’t healthy or sustainable. So for me, I find it helpful to sit down and map out months in advance when I’m going to take breaks (aka time away). And when I do this, I like to also figure out what the time away is going to look like, like where I’m going to go, what I’m going to do, and whether or not it’ll be a family trip or a solo trip, etc. And I know that if I don’t take the time to do this, I’ll quickly overload my schedule and find myself with no breaks and I’ll end up feeling super stressed and overwhelmed.
Whether you have a corporate job, or you’re self-employed, or you work part time, or you’re a stay at home mom (which is the hardest job ever and props to all of the stay at home moms out there), whatever it is that you do, you deserve and need time away from your work. Taking time away helps to prevent overwhelm, burnout, stress, anxiety, etc., but it also helps you to show up more fully and more presently for you, for your loved ones, for your work, and in all areas outside of your work. If you have paid time off, use it! If you’re self-employed, figure out in advance when you can take time away that will work for you and your business and take it! If you work part-time, you still need and deserve to take time away, so take it! If you’re a stay at home mom, ask for help so that you can take time away from your kids or from your day-to-day responsibilities.
So if you’ve been thinking about taking time away, especially if you’ve been feeling like you really need it, do it! And start looking ahead to see when you can take time away and make an effort to really plan it out in advance. And remember that taking time away will help you to show up in all of the areas of your life more fully and more presently!
All of these things that I’ve shared with you have helped me to experience more peace, and I hope that something that I’ve shared in this episode resonated with you and helps you to take action that will help you to experience more peace, too.
And before I wrap up this episode, I want to share something really important with you, and it’s related to expectations. Expectations are a huge piece of why we’re sometimes finding it hard to experience peace (and happiness and joy). When I was struggling with panic disorder and agoraphobia every day, I had this expectation that my life needed to stop being filled with anxiety, panic, and fear, and instead needed to be filled with peace, joy, and freedom. And wouldn’t it be lovely if we could do this? Of course it would be, but it’s not realistic. You can’t go from experiencing lots of panic to experiencing lots of peace overnight.
So if right now you’re finding yourself constantly aiming for peace, or joy, or happiness all the time, I want you to acknowledge that by doing so you’ll constantly be disappointed. You can’t feel peace all the time, and you can’t feel joy all the time, and you can’t feel happiness all the time. And on the flipside, you can’t feel fearful all the time. You can’t feel sad all the time. You can’t feel anxious all the time (even though I know it may feel like you do at times). So instead of shooting to feel any one emotion, or shooting to not feel any one emotion, allow yourself to feel all of your emotions when they come up. Remember, the goal isn’t to not feel anxious, fearful, or sad. The goal is to allow these emotions in so that you can process them in a healthy way and send them on their way. And when you’re present with your emotions, it’ll make the peaceful, joyful, and happy moments that much better!
And if you’re wanting some more tips to help you experience more peace and less anxiety, I’ve created a free guide for you titled “10 (less common) anxiety healing tips that actually lead to more peace, joy, and freedom!” and it walks you through ten tips that you can start practicing to experience more peace. And you can find the link to this guide in the show notes!
Alright, until next time, keep taking healthy action!