2016 was a year, like all other years, that contain: joys, concerns, hardship, and heartaches. All of which, can create anxiety for anyone.

I will continue to share the reminder that every living being has a struggle. Life struggle is not limited to your income level, your race, your sex, your sexual orientation, your gender identity, your beliefs, your age, or the level of your education. We ALL have struggles.

In a recently released interview with First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah asked her how she handles the bad stuff, her reply was “The bad stuff, I just don’t hold on to.” Great words of wisdom.

When we hold on to our stuff, our baggage, we soon find that it consumes most all of our personal space, most all of our time, and most all of our energy.

I have a few thoughts to share, especially as 2016 is coming to an end. And 2017 is just around the corner. And that with a new government being formed, there is a lot of uncertainty for a lot of people. I echo the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, it is about Hope! Hope is for us to have, to model, and to build for the next generation.

BE AWARE. Be aware of how you are right now, and what you need right now. And be aware of where you get your news and information. Be informed. Be smart about being smart.

BREATH. Slow down! When you are getting wound up, take a deep breath in: inhale for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and exhale for 3 seconds. Do this 3 times. You will feel better because you have helped your body do its job.

ROUTINE. Keep your routine of eating, walking, writing, gardening, drinking water, cooking, volunteering, caring for pets and people, working, etc. Put yourself in control of your day, your tasks and your life. It will help you be reminded that your day, and your life are authored by you!

THINK ABOUT IT. Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda can sure beat us up, if we let it. Listen, tomorrow is gone! You can not take a single word back, you can not undo any act you did. It is done. Tomorrow is not yet here. The sun will rise, regardless if behind clouds, ran, snow, or in its full glory of light. Don’t focus on what might be, focus on the gift of life… THE PRESENT. Be present today, right now, for yourself, and those you love, and whom love you!

SURROUND YOURSELF. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, care for you, and love you. Be mindful of those who tear you down, who prevent you from being the best you, and those who those who may simply suck the life out of you. You know who they are. AND yes, they may be people you love or you feel close to. I would never say stop loving someone. I do love some people from a distance, as it is safer for me and my family to do so.
MOVE. Sitting in a rocking chair may be fun, and you will pass time, but it won’t get you anywhere. Get up out of that chair and walk. Walk around the block, at the mall, or on the treadmill. MOVE! Your body needs movement, regardless of age, shape, or size. It is the best medicine, and it is FREE!

LISTEN. Listen to yourself. You know yourself better than others, better than books, and better than computer simulations! I share a practice I teach to people who are experiencing intense anxiety. I ask them to think about their senses… sight, smell, taste, hearing, feeling/touch. Now, think about each of the senses and write or name 3 things you are can experience with each, one at a time, right where you are. It places the focus on you’re here and now.

COMMUNITY. Although churches no longer have the corner market on being the center of community, or thee most healthy place for all people, many are still a great source of strength. AND there are others: reading groups, bowling teams, running teams, fellowship groups, families, circles of friends, and I am sure you could come up with a few groups of your own. Find a community that feeds you, that lifts you up, and allows you to both contribute, and receive.

Chaplain Royal
Inclusive Life Center