As I have battled my anxiety over the years, this has been perhaps the #1 lesson I learned and one of the most helpful pieces of advice.
If you are anxious or worried about something (or even waiting on something!) the worst thing to do is sit around doing nothing. This leads to more thinking, more obsessing, more self-focusing, more worrying.
I am not saying that keeping busy is going to cure you of worry forever. But here is what it is going to do that is positive:
- Give your children/spouse/friends an example of what it looks like to persevere, to do good things with your life, even when it is hard.
- Train your mind that it can’t just run rampant 24/7. This is a skill you will never regret developing.
- Give you something at the end of the day that you are proud of doing.
I have personally found that in times of anxiety, the best activities are ones that involve my mind as well as my hands. Here are some suggestions.
- Do your taxes.
- Start planning the next birthday party your family has coming up.
- Make your Christmas list (to give).
- Organize a closet that needs it. (Don’t just skim over that one. It reads boring, but you will be so proud of yourself!)
- Start a blog.
- Read a fiction book. A really juicy, keep-your-attention one.
- Download the book Paperless Home Organization: How to Create A Digital Home Management Binder. This book has literally changed my life.
- Make a baked good for someone who might appreciate it.
- Write a letter to your Compassion child.
- Figure out if you can save money using Amazon Prime on anything.
- Teach yourself a new language using Rosetta Stone. (Why not?)
- Plan your next vacation. (This is a great one. Highly recommend.)
- Plan your next garden.
- Pick an area of your home you would like to renovate, and go to Houzz.com to pin ideas for it.
- Call someone right now and tell them something you appreciate about them. I promise you this will make two people’s day.
- Download Groovebook on your iPhone and start getting monthly pictures from your Instagram.
- Download this life-changing book and read it immediately.
- Write letter to an elderly person you know.
- Go to Target dollar bin, or the dollar store, for next year’s Operation Shoebox. It’s never too early to start. You can make dozens of them!
- Grab a child you love and brainstorm with them a bucket list of things they want to do during the next season that is coming. Then put one on the calendar and do it soon.
And I just want to address one thing. I know a few of you out there are reading this list, and this is what you are thinking: Jessica, you don’t understand. Some of these things sound good but you don’t understand how tired/anxious/panicky/crazy/hormonal/bad I am right now. Yes I do. I have done many of these things with knots in my stomach, with shaking hands, with tears running down, totally hating it.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Baby steps. Maybe you get through ten minutes today. That’s fine. Try it again this afternoon, or tomorrow. Keep working and do not give up.
And because I couldn’t leave this out, here are four things not to do when you’re anxious. Because they will not help!
- Google your symptoms/issue/problems.
- Obsessively talk about your symptoms/issue/problems.
- Journal about your symptoms/issue/problems.
- Think about your symptoms/issue/problems.
What’s that? You say you noticed a theme? Why, yes, come to think of it, there is a theme! (Spoken from experience:) The demon of anxiety is a ravenous, hungry, wild beast that devours your life, if you let it. Flee it. I am certainly not saying to be naive and blind to real issues. But when you know enough is enough, don’t let yourself become obsessed with your problems and anxieties! (Spoken from experience!)
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