You all now by now that I suffer with anxiety which, touch wood, has been pretty much non-existent over the last few months, but when I am having particularly anxious periods I tend to adopt certain habits or coping methods. For me my anxiety is worse at certain stages in my life and thankfully now isn’t one, but during these times one of the coping habits I seem to use a lot, is time wasting.
Now this might seem quite random, perhaps even confusing, as if your anxious sometimes it can mean you have a lot on and the more time you have the better right? But for me, when I’m anticipating a big event or the like, I tend to feel anxious during the run up and I therefore find myself wasting copious amounts of time trying to make the event come faster. Time is physically a moving thing and you can’t really stop it, speed it up or slow down, yet it is subjective and your idea of an hour might be different to mine. When I’m anxious about something that is in the near future, time seems to slow down and my hour fast become three hours, so I often find myself trying to find ways to make these periods speed up.
I’m guessing I’m not alone in this because with 1 in 4 of us now suffering from some sort of mental illness, there is a huge likelihood that many of you do this too, and I just wanted to share with you my tips for stopping yourself deliberately wasting time.
As always I am not a qualified therapist or doctor and everything I mention is my own personal opinion/experience and is up for discussion.
1- Do Not Go To Bed Earlier!
Guilty your honour. I am an absolute nightmare for doing this because my flawed logic seems to think that going to bed earlier, will mean I sleep earlier and hence the nights quickly turn in to days, but in all honesty it’s just not the case. When I do force myself to go to bed earlier than I need to, I find that my sleeping pattern is sporadic and I tend to wake-up during the nights meaning I’m even more anxious come the morning. The best way to avoid this is to stick to your normal routine, either by force or bribery.
Top Tip- Journal before you go to bed and use it as an opportunity to dump all those anxious thoughts. This way, you will sleep better and the next day will naturally come faster.
2- Thought Suppression Doesn’t Work!
“Don’t even think about it!” This is a common phrase isn’t it? It’s one we’ve probably heard several times today, or perhaps even used ourselves, but when it is used what is the very first thing you do? Yup, you think about it. Anxiety stems from our flawed thinking and therefore trying to stop a thought is only going to make it stronger. I guess it feels like a rebellion inside our pretty heads. Instead of suppressing it, tell yourself that it is only a thought and use positive phrases to help with this (FEAR- False Evidence Appearing Real or remind yourself that thinking it doesn’t mean it will happen).
Top Tip- Use these thoughts as an opportunity to explore your thoughts and your mind a little bit better, by asking yourself and your thought crucial questions. Always ask why and get to the most basic thought or emotion that you can.
3- Make To Do Lists!
I’ve got to the stage where I can predict these anxious periods, I know exactly what events will start them off and so I am able to plan in advance to ensure that I don’t panic too much. Keeping busy is really important, but ensure you fill the time with useful and necessary tasks, especially anything of an important nature. Avoiding these tasks can quickly spiral (I know I’ve been there) and will only make the aftermath of whatever it is your anticipating even worse.
Let me know if this helps or if you have a habit of doing this too either via twitter or in the comment section.