4 key ways to let go to reduce stress & anxiety

Part of the process of overcoming anxiety is letting go and this can be difficult.  The question is why would we hold on to something that causes such discomfort? We often times cannot see the very thing that creates the anxious thoughts or feelings. The familiarity of a situation keeps us within its fold. Our own beliefs perpetuate a cycle of anxiety that traps us.  We are not aware of how people or situations effect us and therefore do not initiate the necessary change.

Letting go of a fixed outcome

When we fixate on an idea, way of living or particular outcome we not only miss the opportunity for something better but create a tension in our bodies and minds that can lead to stress and anxiety. It puts immense pressure on us to orchestrate an outcome within a very narrow field of possibility. One which we believe to be the only correct destination. We ‘must’ have something or ‘we know’ this to be the best way. Those people that remain flexible in their expectations are naturally more at ease. Allowing for the inevitable detours in life strengthens our resilience. Putting ourselves in the flow of life means we can circumnavigate obstacles without undue anxiety. We can never fully have control and we need to bend and flex with that. Be comfortable with not micro managing every aspect of life.

Try to feel outcomes rather than thinking out every detail. For example, rather than setting your sights on a particular house, job or school for your children focus on your family being happy and content. Let go of the need to script every part of your story and allow some interesting plot twists. As you begin to open the door to possibility, even a small crack, your anxiety will lessen.

You don’t have (or need to have) all the answers.

Since school days we have been asked questions and are expected to have all the answers. We are programmed to believe that we orchestrate a grand plan and stick with it, anticipating every boulder in the road. Of course, the path of life never runs so smooth and believing we should know the next move in such a volatile environment is highly stress inducing. We can cling to the steering wheel professing to know where the hell we are going. Feel answerable to those around us as navigator of the ship. This is immense pressure, especially for people that see themselves in positions of responsibility.

Loosen the reigns and accept that you do not and cannot possibly have all the answers. This is not a sign of weakness but great emotional intelligence.

Try to think collaboratively. Be open to the input of others. Share the load of making decisions and change your perspective.

Let go of negative people and situations

Isn’t it strange how much negativity we actually tolerate in our lives. Many of us are unaware of where its coming from although we experience the stress and anxiety associated with it. Logging onto Facebook only to leave 30 minutes later feeling angry or wired or woefully inadequate. Spending time with the same people although they leave us feeling uneasy for days, running conversations through our minds. Tolerating a stressful job or relationship because we are frightened of being alone or not finding something better. Whether it’s the media, TV shows, your neighbor or friend from school days, you have a choice. Exercise the right to maintain peace of mind.
• Accept people and situations for what they are. Sometimes we have to acknowledge that they don’t suit and move on. If you find this difficult distance yourself for a while and gain some clarity around their influence.
• Understand that we are all changing. What suited you last year or last decade won’t necessarily fit right now. Letting go is an inevitable part of living.
• Pay attention to how people or situations make you feel. Do you leave a get together with a friend feeling inspired and positive or feel like you are dragging around a heavy load?
• Be discerning. Choose how and where to spend your time. Don’t be pulled into situations that leave you feeling bad or anxious.
• Take control. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into a situation. Don’t be a consumer of negativity, allowing it to seep in, Be a conscious consumer of those things that support your mental health.

Detach from needing to feel positive emotions.

We are obsessed with happiness. How to obtain it, keep it and maintain it, whilst all too often looking in the wrong places for it. We have daily reminders to stay positive. Inspirational messages proliferate social media. Brightly coloured plasters on a Pinterest board masking the all too true picture of contentment. That humans naturally feel a spectrum of emotional responses. You see happiness is only part of a much larger gamut of feelings. We attempt to ignore what we perceive as negative and desperately cling to those fleeting moments of joy. Happiness comes and goes. Sadness comes and goes too. Clinging to the good only creates tension and our obsession with positivity puts pressure on us to feel a certain way. It sets us up for failure. When we detach from the clinging we can find a peace that transcends our daily roller coaster of emotions. Even if anxiety knocks at the door we can become an observer of its presence rather than become involved in a fight. You will find that anxiety loosens its grip on you. You become accepting of a wide range of feelings. The need to hide from the negative lessens because you accept that none of it is permanent. Guess what……you feel happier.

Greet all your emotions like old friends. Notice when they arrive and when they leave. Notice when you seek out the good house guests and the actions you take to keep them at the door. This entails creating space, becoming the observer and remaining aware of what exactly you are feeling.