Maybe you’ve heard this one before – Anxiety lives in the future, depression lives in the past.
I’ve always had anxiety, and I can attest to the truth of the first part of that statement. Sometimes I get so hung up on what’s to come next that I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m standing at a fork in a road, staring at not one or two branches but thousands. With no knowledge of which might lead to disaster, which might lead to glory.
At times I’ve felt depression, too, but not like some I’ve known, friends who’ve described it as a deep dark hole that they must climb out of again and again. Friends who’ve told me that when they are in that hole, they feel the weight of every decision they’ve made bearing down like dirt shoveled in on top of them, burying them alive. When I’ve talked to them about what works to relieve it, I’ve found the answer is similar to the answer for anxiety.
Live in the present, and be mindful.
Anxiety and depression are real issues, with very real effects. I don’t know if this will be a panacea for everyone. But since I started practicing mindfulness and learned to live more present, my own struggle with anxiety has gotten a whole lot better.
Yes, I still wake up with a familiar tightening in my chest from time to time (this morning, in fact). But then I start my morning routine. I have a good breakfast and focus on enjoying it. I do a bit of exercise and focus on that, too. I meditate. I write. Then, I set it my to the priorities for the day and go to work. And as I do this, the anxiety fades away.
Focusing on these steps doesn’t make the forks in the road go away completely, of course. They are still there, waiting ahead of me. But I’m not looking at them. I’m looking at the road in front of my feet. I’m walking it one step at a time. Feeling the dirt beneath me. Smelling the air. Hearing the sounds all around me. I’m in the present, and my anxiety is in the future.
If anyone wants a recommendation, here it is… Read this book.
It comes with audio files for free that will guide you through a quick meditation every day. I did the eight week course, and I mean it when I say that it has changed my life.