I woke up this past Monday extremely anxious. Anxious about going to work, anxious about having enough time to finish all of the tasks I needed to finish at work, anxious that the tasks not only wouldn’t get accomplished but that they wouldn’t get accomplished well. I woke up anxious also about non-work stuff. Over the weekend I realized that I am leaving for Europe in less than two weeks and have soo much to do before then. Packing, laundry, planning, double-checking that I have everything I need for the trip.
Other life tasks piled on this list as I thought about how I still need to schedule the colonoscopy and wisdom tooth-removal surgery I’ve been putting off for months. I also got summoned for jury duty the day after I return from Europe and need to figure that out. And something that was bogging me not only in terms of anxiety but making me feel weird emotionally was that I needed to figure out a pet-sitting situation for my newly adopted dog while I am gone. I had booked this trip long before I adopted her, and I adopted her with the understanding that the guy I was seeing at the time would take care of her while I’m gone. Well that relationship didn’t work out and thus I lost my hopeful pet-sitter.
All in all, my brain felt like it was going to EXPLODE with the amount of things I needed to accomplish.
With this anxiety my sleep, too, has suffered. I’m not a good sleeper, and I never have been. But in times where I’m particularly anxious I have restless sleep or very vivid, haunting dreams that leave me waking up exhausted rather than rested.
Now that it’s Saturday, and I’ve worked through the week and worked through the anxiety, I want to share some tips that got me to the less anxious place that I am currently at now.
1. Write a daily to-do list
When the source of your anxiety is having what seems like a surmountable amount of things to do on your mind, one of the best things you can do is get those thoughts out of your mind and on to paper. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and write down everything you need to accomplish this week, or everything you need to accomplish in the future that is currently in your mind. Write one thing per line. Next, prioritize these items in order of what needs to be accomplished sooner to what can be accomplished later. If throughout the day you think of more things that are not on this list, add them to the list. As you accomplish things on your list, cross them off. Crossing items off a to-do list literally releases serotonin (a feel-good hormone) and your brain will elicit a feeling of relief.
2. Adjust your Mindset
Remember, life happens one day at a time. You can only attend to one task at a time, and you can only be expected to accomplish one thing at a time (unless you’re multi-tasking, which I don’t really recommend you do). Adjust your perspective and remind yourself to take things one day at a time.
3. Move your Body
Moving your body will help to relax your mind. I’m usually ok at getting enough movement in my day, but this week I went on two walks during my workday as opposed to the usual one walk I schedule in my day. Moving your body increases blood flow and oxygen distribution throughout your body and to your brain, and will help you to feel less anxious. Moving could also help you to pass off anxious energy. High intensity workouts like running or boxing allow you to transfer your anxious feelings through your movements, and also clear your mind. Think of your anxiety like energy that can be transferred, and punch (a punching bag!) or run it away.
Although there are more tips for dealing with anxiety, in this post I wanted to focus on those that helped me this past week, and that can help specifically for the type of anxiety where you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list.
I hope these tips can be useful for you! And feel free to comment or email me if you have any questions:)