If you don't have one already, you need a practice. Something you do every day. Something you enjoy.

Negative habits come easily but positive ones may take a little effort. It's easy to eat cake and watch Netflix every day but developing a healthy routine requires discipline. I have a few daily rituals that are now ingrained habits. I get up at 6:30 and practice Tai Chi for an hour and a half after which I have a cold shower. Before I go to sleep I lay in bed and think of everything I'm grateful for.

In my experience, new habits are formed quickly. If you start running it may initially take some effort to force yourself out of the house but after about 2 weeks it will just be something you do.

Of course, life intervenes. There are times when I can't practice Tai Chi first thing so I'll do it later. Maybe I don't have time for a cold shower. Sometimes I've had too much wine and forget to practice gratitude and that's fine. What's important is that these things are the norm.

I love playing the guitar, cooking and drawing. These things absorb me completely and I lose myself. People I know with some kind of regular practice are the least anxious. My Dad goes for a walk twice a day and has done so for most of his life. He's a very calm and benevolent man and I think walking is a big part of it. People with anxiety and depression often don't have any such practice and can greatly improve their lives by finding one.

It can be helpful if your practice is something a bit difficult. Tai Chi is so good at keeping you in the moment because of its never-ending depth and complexity. I can get lost in just one movement and for a while, my mind is completely in my body. When you are involved in such a practice, anxiety disappears completely.

Tai Chi practice involves pain. Dropping your weight into your legs and holding a static posture for 40 minutes isn't easy but it's worth it. I am stronger, fitter, more balanced and far more relaxed than I was 10 years ago and that's due to my daily practice. Real growth occurs when you push yourself out of your comfort zone but you don't need to take up a martial art. Learning to play the guitar isn't easy at first but it is very satisfying once you can. I'm always trying to play something that's just beyond my limits and so it goes on.

I don't do these things with any goal in mind. There is no place to get to. You should enjoy your practice. Don't do something you take no pleasure in because it won't be as engaging. You won't get as much out of it and won't be very motivated either. Of course, it might not be fun at first so you may need to persevere.

We need structure in our lives in order to be free. Daily practice of some kind can make you stronger and so more able to deal with life's ups and downs. John Coltrane didn't start out freeform, he had incredible discipline. You don't need to be rigidly militant about it, just consistent.

There's a Japanese saying that I'm trying to remember. The crux of it is essentially this: Martial arts, flower arranging, cooking, or playing an instrument are all the same. What does that mean? I'm not completely sure but I like it.

Author's Bio: 

Sam Langley is an experienced Tai Chi teacher, Hypnotherapist and Chef. His goal is to help people live happier and healthier lives by teaching them to Move, Think and Eat better.
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