The nature of modern life is that there’s a lot going on, with work demands higher than ever and many of us striving to ‘have it all’ it’s not surprising that so many report a feeling of being overwhelmed, while 1 in 5 of us suffer from an anxiety disorder. Add into the mix, a life-changing pandemic like coronavirus and you’d be forgiven for feeling totally out of control and in a constant state of anxiety.
The first step of tackling overwhelm in any situation is to recognise some of the reasons for it and to take steps to regain control and your peace of mind.
Here we’ve put together a list of 5 ways you can claim back some control of your day-to-day life in self-isolation in a bid to help reduce anxiety and worry during these difficult times. And remember, although we may be apart, we’re all in this together.
Your to-do list
A ‘to-do’ list is, like the Universe, expanding and infinite, and unless you exert some control over it, it’s enough to make you wish to be swallowed up by a black hole. Especially in moments like these with no real schedule where days just seem to roll onto the next. Know the feeling?
The first step is accepting that the ‘to-do’ list will never be finished, you’ll never be ‘caught up’ on things and there will always be more things to do. Recognising this and making peace with the fact that it’s ok to leave some things unfinished, can bring some instant relief.
Instead of battling a never-ending list, we like to make a teeny tiny list of only the most important tasks to do that day, maybe 2 or 3 items. That way, it’s less overwhelming, you get the satisfaction of finishing, plus if you do finish it, you can always add more on to the list.
Most of us will have experienced the darker side of social media; whether it’s sapping your time and your self-esteem or feeding you a constant stream of scare-mongering news headlines, it’s all too easy to emerge from Instagram feeling pretty crappy and having lost 2 hours of your precious time. This can not only eat into our work time but leave us with the overwhelming sense that we’re somehow not good/pretty/healthy/happy/rich enough.
If social media sucks your time, batters your ego and leaves you feeling more anxious, consider using an app like Antisocial to block sites like Facebook and Twitter for a period of time. Or, simply turning your phone off when you have to focus, can mean the hassle of turning it on again is enough to deter you from quickly ‘checking in’ on social media.
Not taking enough time for yourself
We hear so much about self-care these days, but often life and ‘busyness’ get in the way and before we know it, another week has passed, we’re frazzled and haven’t given ourselves a moment to think, let alone recharge. We have good intentions but rarely follow through because other things get in the way.
Marie Forleo, business and life coach, has a saying; ‘If it’s not scheduled in, it’s not happening’.
Make an appointment with yourself and treat it with the same reverence as you would a meeting with your boss. Book an online exercise class in advance, plan a lunchtime walk, schedule in an at-home pamper sesh and create some white space in your weekly routine to breathe, do nothing, or sit on the sofa with the dog. Rest is as important as activity and you need it to be able to function and feel at your best.
The need to be perfect
Everywhere, from magazines to social media, we’re confronted with images of air-brushed thigh gaps, fairytale careers seen from afar and seemingly perfect relationships. We never see the blemished skin or the stress, tears, fear and struggles that are behind the scenes.
The fact is, nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and we all do things that we regret from time to time. We’ll often overwhelm ourselves by thinking that we need to get things right all the time. But try and find peace in being ‘good enough’ and trust that you’re making progress all the time, often through making mistakes and learning from them.
Projecting our minds into the future can make it seem as if loads of things are all happening, right now. The reality however, is that there is only ever one thing you have to do, and that’s whatever you’re doing right now.
It’s impossible to predict what the future could bring, especially at the moment, and when we project into the future and imagine all the things that could go wrong, it’s easy to feel anxious or stressed. Try to remember that there is only ever here, and now, and that in this moment, you can handle whatever comes up. Using apps like Headspace or practising mindfulness meditation can be a great way to train our minds to stay in the present moment.
Despite our hectic world, peace of mind is always a possibility. Make time for yourself, unplug as often as you can and remember you are here to ‘be’, not just to ‘do’.