Anxiety, Depression and Goals
Setting and working towards goals can reduce anxiety and depression and help you lead a happier life. (1) When we are constantly motivated to move towards a goal, we tend to organize our lives in that direction. We have less time for negative thoughts that weigh us down and hinder our progress. We make moments count to achieve those goals and simply don’t have the time or energy to dwell on the people, places and things that weigh us down. The next time you are having a bad day, instead of giving in to the overwhelming feeling of sadness and loss of control that accompany anxiety and depression, get up and make progress towards a goal. Work out, write, prep your meals, pre-track those meals, go for a leisurely stroll or a difficult hike, whatever will contribute to your overall health and wellness, and I guarantee that you will feel better. None of this is supposed to be a cure for major depression. We are not doctors and cannot diagnose or treat any condition. These are tools that you can utilize to improve your quality of life and again, exercise only with your doctor’s permission.
When we work out we change our brain chemistry but there are other ways that exercise helps stabilize our mood. We are exercising control. We have made a choice. This gives us the accurate feeling that we are not helpless. While there are many tragedies that befall us, we still have control over a whole lot. Making the decision to do something that moves us towards our goal of ultimate health and longevity takes us out of the victim mentality. Suddenly we are in the drivers seat and while we may not be able to choose the ultimate destination in the worst case scenarios, we can certainly choose the route. By doing what is best for us by eating healthy, exercising, resting and avoiding negative input and influences, we have chosen the Interstate over the pot-holed, gully-washed back road that nobody travels because it tears up their car. Many times we can also choose the destination. That’s what goal setting does. When life-changing tragedies occur, some destination choices may be lost, but with the exception of tragedy, you can choose your path and also where it leads. Exercise this power in your life. By focusing on long term goals, you change your present mood and also take yourself one step closer to your goals.
Take Out the Trash
Part of what we teach is to “Make Your Life Small”. This is a huge part of controlling your mental state and reducing anxiety. There are always people who want to drag you down to their level. Sometimes these are “well-meaning” people who actually believe that making your life a living Hell will somehow help you. They constantly criticize. Nothing is ever good enough for them. They tend to criticize the very tools and people who help you reach your goals as if they resent others having input into your life. When you do make a mistake, they love the “I told you so.” Although they profess to be your friend or to love you, their actions do not show it. They make you miserable and produce anxiety, depression and chaos in your life. Quite often, you will be moving along at a good pace and somehow they manage to interject a hindrance that can derail you for months or even years. Do I really have to say this? Cut the dead wood out of your life. Think about the lost time and energy and all the bad feelings that come with that person. If they are a relative, the challenge can be greater but you can disconnect from them in many ways. Don’t answer their calls or texts. Bam! You just took control. If there is a true emergency, sooner or later, you will know. Allowing these negative people to ruin almost every day of your life is a bigger emergency. This kind of stress can raise your blood pressure, cause insomnia, affect job performance and other relationships. The question is, do you want that person inconvenienced or do you want to live with the constant negative input? Make the decision that is healthy for you. They are responsible for themselves. When we remove these people from our lives, we are better able to focus on what we need and reduce anxiety as we create our lives to nurture our souls, moving ever closer to our ultimate self.
Two Tools Identified
Co-author of a study on reducing anxiety, Michelle G. Newman, Phd. stated that the study was initiated to understand how to reduce rates of negative thought patterns and behaviors. Two tools were identified, (1) Goal Persistence, (“When I encounter problems, I don’t give up until I solve them.”) and (2) Positive Reappraisal, (I can find something positive in the worst situations.”) It is imperative that you set and work towards goals and allow only positive people inside your inner circle if you truly want to be healthy. Interestingly enough, self-mastery, the belief that you can do anything that you set your mind to do, did not help. It was working towards those goals with positive persistence that was the deciding factor in the participants state of mind. It’s the effort and focus applied to the goal, not the goal, that changes how we feel and think. Notice the bicycle logo on our Home page, “Life Is a Beautiful Journey, Enjoy The Ride.” Note something that we say often, “Create Your Life”. It’s the positive journey and the creating that gives us joy and alleviates negative thoughts and feelings. When we do achieve a goal, all the better. Set a new one.
The S.M.A.R.T. model is a popular strategy for achieving goals and staying focused on them in the process.
S- Specific Goals are important.
M-Measurable David says “What Gets Measured, Gets Done.” Write down your workouts and your progress. Keep accurate records. Otherwise you will not progress.
A-Achievable Can you do what you need to do to achieve this goal?
R-Realistic Is this goal something that can happen?
T-Time-bound-Do you have or can you make time to achieve this goal?
You’re In Charge
So often we short change ourselves by simply not exercising authority in our lives. You are in charge of your life. Set goals and work towards them and soar right past many negative emotions that can destroy you.
“Create Your Life.”