5 Tess Tips on how to transition from worrier to WARRIOR!
"When you’re up against the odds and dealing with so much opposition, how do you manage to stay balanced?”
I get asked this a lot. Sometimes people express surprise that after the last two years, I’m still greeting each morning with a smile on my face. This really is how I feel, most days at least. However, I wasn’t always like this.
Back in the day, I was a ball of stress. I lived in a constant rush, never feeling like there was enough time, and I worked extremely hard. I played hard, too: I loved squash and racketball, so I’d dash up to the club, play a game, then rush off to the next thing.
When I look back on this now, it feels like another life. I live by a different rhythm these days, and I can honestly say I seldom feel anxious anymore. Instead of being a worrier, I genuinely feel like a warrior, engaged in a collective push towards a better way for humanity and our planet.
Did this state of being just ‘happen’? No, and it is not an ‘absolute’ state – I’m still learning as I go, as we all are. Remaining in this zone simply involves doing more of what nourishes me and letting go of habits that bring me down.
With this in mind, I’d like to share a few things I do regularly that have helped me make the transition from worrier to warrior. Before I begin, bear in mind this is not a prescription. As we all know, the days of just following doctor’s orders are over. You will know what’s best for you – so just take these tips as inspiration and enjoy the process of finding your own toolkit of practices that help you feel happy, healthy and whole.
Become a creature of habit
So much of our anxiety revolves around the many, many decisions we have to make each day. Some are significant, such as whether to undergo a medical procedure, while others are trivial, such as what to have for dinner. When stressed, the brain doesn’t distinguish big decisions from small ones, which becomes a problem. It also doesn’t help that we live in a culture that encourages us to branch out, try new things, shake things up a bit so that we’re constantly stimulated and never bored. This just leaves us making more and more choices that actually aren’t even necessary.
What to do? It’s quite simple, really: we reduce the number of decisions we have to make by becoming a creature of habit. For example, we don’t have to eat every variety of food, from Mediterranean food to Asian food and back again. Work out the foods your body likes and eat those. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, too. Establish a daily routine that works for you, whatever that may be.
When we don’t have to make so many small decisions each day, we find space for other things. Life becomes simpler – and we start to realise what the important choices really are.
Embracing change with gratitude
I’ve learnt that the one thing we can be sure of in life is change: everything else is uncertain. The idea that we can control things is an illusion, which is why it’s so stressful. Embracing change is far more relaxing to me, and I’ve found the best thing I can do for myself is to be excited about the change each day brings. What really helps here is practising gratitude. Every morning when I wake up, I say out loud, “Thank you for another day”. I greet each day as a new start, make a conscious decision to leave yesterday behind and not worry about tomorrow. Throughout the day, I keep expressing my gratitude: for the food I eat, even for the challenging situations that come my way. I’ve learnt to see these as amazing learning opportunities, and I’m genuinely grateful for them.
Clearing the mind
I was definitely one of those people with a constant mental chatter of worries that made it impossible to meditate. So, trust me – if I can clear my mind, anyone can. One of the easiest ways for me is perhaps a little unconventional: I observe birds and imagine myself in their body, doing what they do, seeing what they see. So, for example, I might watch a blackbird in the park: I’ll then close my eyes and imagine wrestling with that worm. As a pigeon, with my eyes closed, I’ll flap my wings to reach a certain elevation and then glide on the prevailing winds. When I imagine flying and seeing what the birds see from above, my mental chatter starts to slow down until my mind is completely calm. I become absolutely absorbed in the natural world, and it is incredibly nourishing. Birds have very interesting experiences, and their lives epitomise freedom. Watching them clears my mind and makes me feel joyful and free too. It may not be everyone’s idea of meditation, but it works for me.
I only used to do fast-paced aerobic activity, which of course, does also have enormous benefits. But I’ve since found yoga such a simple and quick way to get out of my head and into my body. I particularly love the three warrior poses, and I will move from one to the other in a kind of flow. This is so beautiful and empowering to me. Just ten minutes of this in the morning and evening does so much for my state of being; I highly recommend it.
Listening to uplifting music
I have a particular passion for Bob Marley. Listening to his lyrics, I sometimes feel like he was writing for these times. A couple of lines come immediately to mind that really speak to being a warrior rather than a worrier: “Don’t worry, ‘bout a thing / Cause every little thing gonna be all right,” and of course, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your right / Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” Bob Marley’s a personal favourite, but no doubt you’ll have your own music that never fails to lift your spirits.
You may have noticed that all of these practices and activities are simple and freely available to everyone. We don’t have to spend money or take time-consuming courses to improve ourselves – though, of course, we can do that if we wish. These tips are more about bringing ease and enjoyment into the everyday. I hope you find them helpful – I’ll be back soon with a few more.