EVERYONE experiences moments of internal struggle – be it anxiety, self-doubt, depression, excess stress, or other mental health challenges. When going through these rough patches it can feel like sinking beneath the surface or struggling to stay afloat.
I often find myself submerging under the rough waters of my problems, and letting myself get pulled into a whirlpool of internal chaos. It is effortless to allow myself to sink into anxiety and become submerged by the stress. Since becoming more aware of myself I’ve realized that when life presents these challenges we get to make a decision whether we want to sink, fight, or float.
It’s easy to stay afloat when the water is calm but the real challenge comes from learning to keep tranquil when life puts new waves in the way. Floating in the situations of rough water is about finding balance within your mind and allowing yourself to rise above struggles, while still acknowledging their presence. Instead of ignoring the things in your life that cause worry or distress, just like the feeling of sinking in rough water, you can learn to manage these emotions more effectively, like calming yourself and your breath so you can begin to float above the surface once again.
When learning how to float you can adopt different techniques and tools to flow with life’s challenges. Think of these techniques like your life vests and practices you can implement into your day to find calm in the sea. This could include mindfulness practices, self-care, creating art, journaling your thoughts, setting boundaries, and practicing positive self-talk. Though they may sound simple, implementing small things like this can move your energy into a better and less draining direction.
When I begin to feel these waves and relapses of anxiety I find myself needing time alone and use this time to refocus my energy on creativity, giving me space to find calm when I would usually dwell on my thoughts. Maintaining these practices and tools of mindfulness when encountering a new wave may initially feel challenging. However, when confronted with the choice of sinking, struggling, or staying afloat, remembering to refocus your energy and anchor yourself to your life vest becomes crucial to float past the wave.
Embracing the current rather than battling it can save you from sinking. As a surfer, one of the first things you learn is how to stay calm when getting hit by a wave. While surfing, you’re bound to fall off your board and be tossed around
underwater. Instinctively, you might want to struggle against it, but you soon realize that resisting and trying to swim frantically only makes you sink faster. In such a high-stress situation, the best approach is to calm your mind and let the wave carry you, before going to take a breath again. This applies to managing your emotions too. Imagine stress as a wave crashing over you; the more you fight it, the deeper you’ll sink.
Even when you have found ways to float better, life can still get pretty rough. These could be brought on by major life changes, unexpected events, or relapses in mental health. It’s important to recognize that floating doesn’t mean avoiding challenges, but rather facing them with resilience and adaptability. Even when these challenges may arise you can adapt to the waves by relying on your life vest. These problems will just become another wave that will pass you by.
The journey of learning to float is ongoing and takes time to integrate into your life. However, your personal growth journey and the lessons you learn about yourself are far more important than any final destination. Consider what in your life causes stress and ask yourself: Is this where I want to invest my energy? Does this weigh me down or lift me up? Is it worth the struggle? With simple questions like these, it becomes easier to identify what you need to release or how you may need to adjust in your response to the stress. Decide whether you’d rather channel your energy into fighting the current or riding the wave.
In the unpredictable seas of life, we all face moments of turmoil and turbulence. These challenges, like the crashing waves, can seem overwhelming, and it’s natural to feel like we’re sinking. However, our response to these challenges is a choice we can all make. Learning to float amidst the rough waters of our problems is a skill that requires practice, but it’s a skill that can be honed. By adopting mindfulness tools and practices as our life vests, we can navigate these challenges with greater resilience and clarity. Embracing the current rather than battling it allows us to conserve our energy and stay afloat. Remember, even when the waves are relentless, the journey of personal growth is the true destination. So, the next time you feel the undertow of stress, ask yourself where you want to invest your energy and whether it’s worth the struggle. Choose to float, adapt, and grow, for in doing so, you’ll find the strength to weather any storm that life may bring.