Times like these
If you’ve ever read my previous blog, you’ll know that I suffer from anxiety – anything you can think to worry about, you can bet I’ve already thought and obsessed about it. Social anxiety, work anxiety, raising-a-child anxiety, and today’s topic – time anxiety.
For quite a while now, I’ve had this huge fear of time passing too quickly or feeling like I’m not spending my time wisely enough. It’s a really horrible feeling to have, because sometimes when I’ll actively be trying to do something productive, there will be a little voice in my head saying ‘not enough, not enough, not enough…’ and then I’ll get really paranoid that no matter what I do, it’ll never be good enough or I’ll never complete all the work that I want to.
This is something that I’m working hard to overcome in therapy (along with a lot of other ingrained negative thinking habits that I appear to have brought with me from childhood). I think a lot of it ties into my perfectionist tendencies – which is quite often why I struggle with first drafts of my work. Even though realistically I know that no one will ever see that awful, convoluted, makes-no-sense first draft, it doesn’t stop me from thinking that everything I write is utter shite and I can’t string two words together, let alone write a novel.
There are steps that I’m currently trying out to see if they help with this – this is still a major work in progress, so I’ll update this list as and when I come across new ideas to help me:
- Time management – instead of watching TV all night, or scrolling through my phone, could I be using that time more productively? I’m not talking about working 24/7 and never switching off – I’m talking about actively thinking about how I use my time. If binge-watching Brooklyn 99 has lost it’s charm, what would I like to do instead? Read? Write? Update this blog? At the moment I’m trying out writing for an hour or two once the Little Terror is in bed, and then relaxing for the rest of the evening. It’s working reasonably well so far, although I am trying very hard not to let that little voice in my head that says I should be doing MORE to overtake my brain…
- Organisation – my husband and I currently run our own business – several in fact. If you’ve ever tried to do anything outside the ‘normal’ 9-5 routine (running a business! Writing a novel! Farming! Raising children! Basically life!) you might have an idea of how exhausting it can be to keep on top of everything. To help combat that paralysing fear that I’m not doing enough and there isn’t enough time to do everything, I sat down and made a schedule. I worked out which days I could work on our other businesses, and the days I could devote to writing. As mentioned above, I’m also trialling working in the evenings (with 2 nights off a week) to see if that helps or hinders me. It might not work – I might get 3 weeks in and realise I’m burning out. But here’s the beauty of life – I can change it. If I feel like it’s all too overwhelming, I can cut back or ask for help. I don’t need to stick with something when it’s not working – we’re all allowed to change our minds.
- Mindfulness – I have a confession to make – I hate the term ‘mindfulness’ and ‘self care’. Although I completely agree with the principles, I feel like the terms have been bandied around so much, they’ve started to lose their meaning. But the core of the idea is pure gold – everyone needs time to rest, and take time for themselves. For me, mindfulness is putting my phone away on a walk and noticing the scenery. It’s being outside gardening. It’s getting lost in a good book. I’m going to try harder to take more notice at the task at hand, and realise when my thoughts are running away with me, rather than being ‘in the moment’. Meditation is an amazing tool to help with this – if you’re wondering where to begin, definitely download the Headspace app and try out their free meditations to get you started.
Like I said, this is still very much a work in progress, and I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic often and update you with how well (or not) it’s going. That’s the other thing I struggle with – I like to complete projects, tick them off my list, and then move onto the next thing. I’m not good with projects that are ongoing or that take a long time – again, this is something I’m trying very hard to reframe my thinking around. After all, there are many things in life that I can’t control or ‘tick off’.
I’m still new to this and at the beginning of my journey into tackling my anxiety and negative thought patterns, which does scare me a little bit (what if I never overcome them? What if I never achieve what I want to because of it? What if, what if, what if….) – but as good ol’ Samwise once said, “it’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.” It’s far better that I’ve started making active steps to help myself now, rather than wait until it all becomes too much (again – but that’s a post for another day).
Til next time,