Even after my youngest was born 14 months ago, I still struggle with some residual anxiety or panic attacks. Thankfully, I have been well supported by family, friends and even strangers with encouraging words and acts of kindness. I know that I have an open door policy with many wonderful people in my life who I can call if I need help and if they are able to, they will either be here or help walk me through it on the phone.
It became second nature to pick up the phone as soon as the onset of my anxiety would begin, but as life would have it, often times the line would be busy or lead to voice mail and I would find myself alone with my baby struggling to be strong for him. Eventually it got to the point where I gave up calling out when I was hurting; facing my anxiety and doing anything I could to distract myself… it was difficult to be alone.
As I dealt with some anxiety attacks over the last few days, I tried some new strategies. I put on more lights, I put on some uplifting music, I prayed while I played with my little one… it helped but I still felt the anxiety creeping in.
Today I had an idea that actually turned my day around from being anxiety ridden to productive and happy. I took a piece of paper and just started writing down all the things in my head that were bothering me or anything I was thinking about and got it ALL out there on paper. After I finished, there was nothing left swirling around in my head and I realized that there wasn’t as much stressing me out as I had imagined. It seemed so big in my head, but I came up with a list that filled about 1 and a half pages of a regular sized notebook.
I then began to deal with what was CAUSING the anxiety and some of them were rather silly to be honest, but it was so productive because I immediately started to take care of items on the list and check them off (the easy ones first!)
Once I put my little guy down for his nap, I tackled the BIG one: find sale items in flyers, meal plan and then go grocery shopping. I typically look at three grocery stores’ flyers so it takes me some time to go through and write everything down. It’s easier if you have a printer that works (unlike mine!). Often you can select the food items and put them in a cart or grocery list provided on the website and just print it when you are done. “Easy-Peasy!” as my 3-year-old would say!
So the week is looking like this:
Wed: Curry Butter Chicken and jasmine rice
Fri: one of my one pot meal recipes that got carried over from last week!
Sat: Toasted tomato sandwiches
Sunday: Some pizza that I froze from earlier in the week
So my grocery list is huge because we typically bulk up on sale items regardless of what we have for meals, but everything is all organized and I am in good shape for the rest of the week now! Even better, my little one is still asleep (I think he is teething again!) Grocery shopping will be done tonight!
After doing the flyers and meal plan, I feel a huge weight off my shoulders. Now the other tasks don’t feel as daunting and I have to admit it feels really great to just take some time for me right now to write in my blog about how I beat my anxiety today!
Other tips that helped me out were to organize mess and not necessarily tackle it all at once. For example, dishes were all over my kitchen this morning because I went out with a friend last night and came home late. Normally this would add to my anxiety because, at least for me, I feel completely stressed when there is no counter space and room to move around. It can be a huge job to gather up all the dishes, wash them all, dry them all, clean the counters and stove and table… so I simply decided to take a step back from my all-or-nothing mentality and I gathered the dishes neatly beside the sink. I washed inside the sinks, I washed the oven and table, and then I WALKED AWAY! It felt so empowering that I wasn’t bound to do this gigantic task all at once.
The same was true later in my day when it came to laundry. I have a TON of laundry to do that has been piling up way longer than it should. There’s a mix of everything including blankets and towels. There were clothes all over my little guys’ rooms and our room, so what did I do? I gathered all the clothes which filled two large baskets and brought them downstairs, placing them neatly by the laundry room. I organized them, darks and lights in neat piles, and got my first blanket in the wash and then I WALKED AWAY AGAIN!
Seriously, I went from a morning of fear, anxiety and sadness to one of joy, peace and accomplishment. And the day is going to get even better because This Is Us is on tonight and I can’t wait to see the newest episode!
I’m actually looking forward to putting more check marks beside items on my list and the free time that I have gained by being proactive! Now, this feels good.