The Art of Strengths Coaching

A is for Appreciating Life As A Way Of Dealing With Angst  

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Sensitive people feel things deeply. They may feel strongly about certain values, for example, and are uplifted when seeing such values lived. They get deeply upset when these values are violated.

Elaine Aron has helped many people to channel such awareness in a positive way. She outlined practical strategies for doing so in her book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to thrive when the world overwhelms you. You can discover more about her work via the following link.

Sensitive people feel more at ease when they are in control of situations. Some take the following steps towards making this happen.

They put themselves into positive rather than negative situations. 

They take a positive approach towards life – including finding solutions towards difficult challenges – rather than slump into negativity. 

They direct their attention towards appreciating life – including finding ways to manage difficult experiences – rather than getting stuck in angst.

“What we focus on, we become,” we are told. Everything is food. The sights, sounds and experiences we let into our bodies can affect the way we feel.

Some people say that: “Attention is all.” The things we direct our attention towards can shape our feelings. Looking at this approach, how do direct your attention?

What percentage of your time do you spend appreciating life? What percentage do you spend being in angst? What does your ratio look like?

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Different people experience angst for different reasons. They may struggle to find a sense of purpose, fall into self-defeating habits, feel upset about events in the world or whatever.

Everybody experiences ups and downs. People can learn how to manage their emotions, however, rather then let their emotions manage them.

People like to feel in control. Some do this by creating a structure to follow each day. They then feel more in charge of their lives rather than feeling events are in charge of them.

Such people develop a sense of gratitude. They spend time with encouraging people and get some early successes each day. They choose to be positive, play to their strengths and achieve their picture of success.

Different people follow these principles in different ways. The self-help websites for people who experience bipolar disorder, for example, provide many practical tips.

Below are excerpts from the Help Guide website. You can discover more via the following link.

Develop a daily routine 

Your lifestyle choices, including your sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns, have a significant impact on your moods.

There are many things you can do in your daily life to get your symptoms under control and to keep depression and mania at bay.

Build structure into your life

Developing and sticking to a daily schedule can help stabilize the mood swings of bipolar disorder.

Include set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, working, and relaxing. 

Try to maintain a regular pattern of activity, even through emotional ups and downs. 

Exercise regularly 

Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise is especially effective at treating depression.

Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity five times a week into your routine. Walking is a good choice for people of all fitness levels.

Learn how to relax 

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and guided imagery can be very effective at reducing stress and keeping you on an even keel.  

A daily relaxation practice of 30 minutes or more can improve your mood and keep depression at bay.

Make leisure time a priority

Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. 

Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity. 

Appeal to your senses

Stay calm and energized by appealing to your senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink. 

Healthy people try to see things in perspective. They focus on what they value and appreciate in life.

J.K. Rowling described how she took this approach when addressing students at Harvard about The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.

Deep into the address she talks about how, after leaving university, she could be seen as a failure. Instead of studying a degree that might lead to a well-paid job, she had studied classics. She had little money and her marriage had broken.

At the same time, however, J.K. had some great assets. In addition to having some wonderful friends, she mentioned three things. She had:

A daughter she adored … An old typewriter … And a big idea.

J.K. decided to build on these assets and give what she could to the world.

Different people choose different ways to appreciate life and deal with angst. One approach is to keep a daily journal in which they explore the following themes.

The specific things they appreciated or achieved that day. 

The specific things they aim to appreciate or achieve the next day.

They may describe personal things such as being with their child, encouraging another person, walking by the river, caring for an animal, cooking a meal, playing music or whatever.

They may describe professional things such as writing an article, doing satisfying work, leading a team, creating something beautiful, making a presentation, solving a problem or whatever.

Let’s conclude by returning to your own life and work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this them.

This invites you to describe the enjoyable experiences you have had today and those you aim to have tomorrow. Keeping such a journal can help you to build your internal strength and see other things in perspective.

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