Woody Allen’s film persona mastered anxiety by making fun of it. His signature stuttering, nerves, and
befuddlement all became sources of humor.
Most of us know our own anxiety signs like nail biting, tension in the
neck and jaws and shallow breathing, but when they appear we tend to take them
too seriously rather than laugh. Next
time your vital signs point to a rise in worries, give them the boot with humor
and a few simple techniques to shift the mood.
1) Laugh. Worries hate being ridiculed. It makes them feel small, like bit
players. When they feel small, they lose
their power. Laughing at them and about
them can be a good way to keep them at bay. A set of humor tools can help shift
out of anxiousness and into a more creative place. It’s hard to hold onto a worried frame of
mind when you’re wearing a bright red clown’s nose or blowing bubbles. Changing attitude by turning the excess
energy of anxiety into play can actually bring about creative responses to the
issues that may be at the root of anxiety.
2) Get perspective. Detach from the immediate perceived
source of worry and step back into a place of witnessing. It’s like watching a film of the mind. This makes it easier to put everything into
perspective. I have a partial map of the
universe where our galaxy, the Milky Way, is represented by a spot about the
size of a quarter. The earth inside of
this is smaller than a pinpoint. When
I’m troubled, I ask, “Is that worry really so important in the scheme of
things?” I imagine I’m on the edge of the universe looking back and seems rather
unimportant. When looking at it from
next year or five years from now the perspective also shifts. Giggle at the size of God’s joke on us and
move ahead constructively and in the best way you know right now. Does this seem hard to do? Pick up some inspiration from Abe Lincoln
who, despite his many hardships, continued to keep a light heart and a sense of
humor even when the country was split in two.
He said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to
3) Change environments. Go for
a walk outdoors in nature. Slip into a
cathedral. Play with a dog or tickle a
baby. A shift in surroundings combined
with some physical activity like a walk can reset moods and help move the mind
and spirit into a better, more relaxed space.
4) Sniff soothing scents. Essential oils like lavender and frankincense
have long been known to relax and elevate the spirit. Scientific studies are beginning to reveal
that smells can have an impact on moods.
Use a diffuser or sprinkle some drops of oil on a tissue and keep them
at hand to breathe in. It’s hard to feel
bad when it smells like you’re standing in a lavender field in Provence. Essential oils are good bath companions as
well and just a couple of drops of pure oil will do the trick.
Copyright Debra Moffitt-Leslie 2010
Bio: Debra Moffitt-Leslie
Debra Moffitt-Leslie’s book,"108 Spiritual
Practices for Challenging Times" will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide
in 2011. Read more at www.debramoffitt.com Her essays and articles appear
in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the
spiritual in a mostly material-minded world. She’s on the faculty for The
Sophia Institute and gives workshops in the U.S.