The Art of Non-Conformity

Thinking differently, questioning assumptions, and living a life of grateful adventure

How I Deal With Anxiety

Worry is good.

On any given day I’m anxious about any number of things. I don’t relax very well. I feel tense and unsettled at least a couple of times throughout the day. And I worry, because generally I think worry is good.

Of course, not all worry is good, and there’s certainly a case to be made for learning to relax.

The first thing I try to do is figure out what’s wrong.

This is harder than it sounds. Sometimes there’s a clear answer, but often it’s a jumbled and convoluted one. I feel like I’m not doing a good job. I feel like I’ve let someone down. A relationship is in disharmony.

Other times, though, I really don’t know what the problem is. On the surface it appears that everything’s going well, but I’m still struggling.

If I can’t identify something specific but I still feel anxious, I move to a new strategy: figure out what I need to improve my mood.

Very often this involves a search for peace or tranquility. I’m troubled, so I need to find relief—but how?

I firmly believe that you can be at peace wherever you are or feel unsettled wherever you are. I’ve been in difficult situations but felt great, and been miserable while staying on the beach at a luxury resort. These are “first world problems” perhaps, but no one is exempt from melancholy.

The moment of peace sometimes arrives unexpectedly, but there are a few positive triggers:

  • Sunshine
  • Music
  • Coffee
  • Exercise
  • Airports (or travel in general… I love being on the road)
  • Afternoon pastry
  • Nice emails
  • The sense of making progress on a project

However I get there, I try, try, try to find this moment of peace.

It’s not easy. Some people meditate, others pray, others practice yoga or another discipline. I suspect the goal is the same for each of these activities: to find peace and comfort and purpose, to commune with God or the universe or wherever you find that center.

So as I said, that’s what I do. I go in search of peace, however I can find it, and then I go back to work.

And you?

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*By the way, this post isn’t called “How You Should Deal with Anxiety” because I’m no expert. I can only tell you what I do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If you’ve got your own solution, let us know.

Chris Guillebeau travels the world and writes for a small army of remarkable people at chrisguillebeau.com.

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