One of my favorite coping strategies is to remind myself to focus on what I can control. There is so much that I can’t control in the world and it’s all scary! Yet, when my anxiety starts going 8 miles per minute, I bring myself back to life by focusing on what I can control.
Focusing on what I can control is not turning off the world. It’s just deprioritizing the mental space that you were giving that was never in your control. For example: I can’t control if people vote in this upcoming election OR what the outcome is. I can control if I vote or not. So, when my anxiety starts to tell me that the world is about to end because our political system is in disarray, I remind myself that I should only focus on what I can control.
Below are 5 things that are in my control.
1- I can control how clean my environment is.
Cleaning is soothing. Whenever I find myself stressed I clean something small or big depending on how much time I have and how stressed I am. If I don’t have a lot of time available or I’m only minorly irritated, I will usually hand wash a load of dishes instead of just putting them in the dishwasher. Or, for minor stressors, I may clean just my bathtub randomly. If something big happened and I need to focus on what I can control, I often deep clean something that only needs to be done once a season. I may clean my mattress or reorganize my closet. Right before our wedding, I was so stressed I pulled out all of our tupperware and reorganized all of our cabinets.
2 – I can control what I put in my body and how often I workout.
When I reframed my thoughts about fitness everything changed. I originally thought that working out and eating healthy were only done to “look good for the gram” or to “look good for my husband.” Now, I gently remind myself that controlling what I put in my body and how often I workout means that I was preparing my mental and physical health for success in multiple avenues.
Most days I still hate exercising and I will always prefer a burger and fries over a salad. Unfortunately, my favorite meal triggers my acne, doesn’t give me energy for my day, and can cause a ton of health complications down the road when overconsumed. By remembering that my diet fuels my dreams, I can focus on what I can control by making sure that I have a balanced diet and try to workout at least three times a week.
3- I can control how much media intake I have.
At the start of pandemic, I felt overwhelmed by my insanely high media and news intake. I was consuming way too much content about the virus and it’s financial implications on the world. If I wasn’t trying to read the news all day, I was spending all my “free time” on social media. What I thought was keeping me informed was actually pushing me further into my depression and anxiety.
You don’t need to know what’s going on in the outside world every second of every day. It is not healthy to consistently consume bad news at extremely high volumes. Especially after watching, The Social Dilemma on Netflix, I’ve heavily monitored how much of my time I spend scrolling just to scroll.
4- I can control how much effort I put into achieving my dreams.
I can’t control whether or not people support my business. I can control how much time I put into growing my business. It is 100% in my control if I decide to put in the effort to accomplish my goals or not. I can control if I take the time to learn a new skill that will help me succeed. I can also control if I do the things that I know my business needs, such as creating a comprehensive marketing strategy. I cannot control if people like my content on Instagram.
5 – I can control how kind I speak to myself and others.
Speaking to myself kindly is something I struggle with every second of every day. Trust me when I say, I get it. I’m learning that focusing on how kindly I speak to myself is one of the biggest factors that can influence my day. When things go wrong, I can speak kindly to myself to help navigate my emotions.
I can also control how kindly I speak to others. I cannot control their reactions. Other people’s emotions are theirs, not mine. And focusing on how kind I am in an unpleasant situation is a way for me to not get into the endless pit of despair.
Focusing on what you can control is hard. It takes discipline and a willingness to want to shift your mental health. Yet, the rewards far outweigh the effort and the time it takes to learn these new skills. Don’t forget to be patient and kind with yourself!
How do you focus on what you can control? Let me know in the comments below!