Anxiety Life

The dangers of free-time?

I have found myself falling back into so many bad habits recently, nothing new, just the old anxiety faithful of what if, when, why….????

I had taken so many steps forward, so I have been wondering, why I am now back here in what if land?

I read through some of my blogs here and it was easy to see why I emigrated back to the land of what if. Too much free time!

At the start of lockdown, I enjoyed the free time, catching up on tv shows and binging things I kept meaning to watch. It was great! Then as lockdown was extended, I created a routine for myself, which involved meditating, walking and blogging. It was amazing, I had never had more energy!

Then, I let the routine slip. I will just take a day off. I deserve it. Then I got a virus, and then once I was better, it was a lot of thinking, I need one more day to chill. Relaxation is key after all to our mental and physical health.

Before I knew it, the dread and anxiety was back, stronger than ever! The panic attacks were back too! The insomnia, and all the rest! The worst were the thoughts that come with anxiety. It is a spiral isn’t it!

After a lot of downward thinking, I have now come to the conclusion after all the “days off” that I have given myself, that my anxiety thrives on free time. I, on the other hand, do not.

So I just started back slowly. I got some paint and a canvas and just had some fun. I spent all day doing it and I found myself smiling. More importantly, I was sitting quietly, smiling and doing pretty much nothing. I was completely relaxed! I started to do new tasks that I never do, with no direction or plan. And again, I found myself smiling. Today I found myself watching TV with a big smile on my face for no reason and it hit me! Because of my anxiety, my form of relaxation is different to those techniques we read about in self-help books and on social media. Free time hurts me but small tasks give me a sense of achievement. Even if all I do are the dishes today instead of using the dishwasher or paint a piece of bad art, I have not achieved anything as such but I am calmer.

The idea of relaxing and giving myself free-time is a slippery slope for me and my anxiety. I end up worrying all day or worrying that I have not done anything that day. So by reading a few pages of a book, washing the dishes or cooking something different, I have still achieved not much but I know I have done something. And wow does that make me feel better.

So make sure to do something small every day. Never underestimate the power of writing in your journal or writing yourself a small TO-DO list for that day.

A good technique that I have found is to start by writing things that you would do anyway.

  • Brush teeth
  • Take out trash
  • Have a shower
  • Meditate for 5 minutes
  • Watch new episode of fav TV show
  • Take vitamins
  • Drink water

By the end of the day, you will see that you accomplished things. We accomplish things everyday but the anxiety can make us feel that we haven’t. Regaining our perspective and getting a sense of fulfilment is a positive tool against anxiety! Try it!

As for me, write blog today – check!

Love, @powerofanxiety