Anxiety. Oh, how that little creature loves to be a sidekick in our life. Maybe not so much a little creature. Sometimes it feels like the big bad wolf. This week on The Gutsy Podcast, we’re going to talk about how you can eliminate or drastically reduce anxiety by one simple action. And that is—planning.
Anxiety is this really intense feeling (and it’s not the same for everyone). Sometimes, it’s just a little bit of “oof” and sometimes it’s a full-on panic attack—or anything in between. Regardless of how anxiety feels to you, the overall consensus is that it just leaves you feeling really, really off. Sometimes it’s being fearful or afraid of something. Sometimes it’s an intense amount of worry—we’re talking one o’clock in the morning worry when no one else is up or around.
Anxiety could also be panic. You start thinking a thousand miles an hour about a hundred different things and nothing makes sense. Panic can also set in when you feel like you’re stuck or at a crossroads. You don’t know what to do. You don’t have any options. You feel as though your hands are tied.
Anxiety can also cause a lot of moods, a lot of feelings, and can make you really irritable or just kind of not awesome to be around. It can make you feel sad, depressed, lonely—and it can cause a lot of physical ailments: shortness of breath, headache, heart palpitations, just not feeling like you can get out of bed. Needless to say, anxiety is a beast.
Life Without Planning = Anxiety
When I say not planning, I mean you are literally bouncing from one activity to the next. You’re not giving yourself breathing room between one activity to the next, you’re not preparing for meetings, you’re not preparing yourself for what you needed to do tomorrow—you’re literally just swinging from tree branch to the next (hoping that one doesn’t snap when you grab ahold of it).
By not planning, you are unintentionally creating stress and anxiety in your life. How you spend and invest your time has a huge impact on your day, your life, your mood, your health. When you’re not planning out your day, your week, the commitments you have taken, where you need to be, who you need to be with—all those details—you’re putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself to just wing it.
Overplanning (also = Anxiety)
You have a lot going on in your life. You might be a mother, father, sister, brother. You could be a business person. You might be in charge of a nonprofit organization or serving on a board of directors. Whatever the case may be, you are responsible for A LOT of things.
Other times, you love doing what you do. You love volunteering, being the president of your organization, or hanging out with your people. You may love those things, but also feel so stretched thin you can’t even enjoy them (or better yet, you can’t do them well because you have completely maxed out your time).
Here’s the other thing: When we’re not planning out our time, we are creating a slow leak to allow ourselves to over-commit ourselves. And you know what? It’s okay to sometimes feel like you don’t want to do those things.
You really need to step back and look at how you’re making yourself feel. When you cram in more activities than you have the capacity to carry, all for the sake of not wanting to tell someone no and hurt their feelings, you end up sacrificing your own happiness. Remember: Your time is precious. When you’re able to really stand in your light and do what you do best at your FULL capacity, you can literally shift the process of crossing things off your to-do list from “Welp, that’s done” to “I just finished that and I feel so amazing.”
Make A List
Let’s talk about something so simple, yet something that can actually cause some legit anxiety (when not planned out). And that is—grocery shopping.
Ohhhhh yes, imagine it now:
“What do you want for dinner?”
“I dunno, what do you want for dinner?”
So you walk around, up and down aisle 10 for the up-teenth time. Before you know it, you’ve had a half ass argument, you get three or four things for the pantry, that gallon of milk you’ve been needing for the last three visits already, and then guess what—you still don’t have plans for dinner.
By making a simple list, you can reduce the stress and anxiety of what should be a simple shopping experience. Also, a lot of grocery stores have these incredible apps now where you can literally go through your house with your phone and say, “Okay, do we need spaghetti? Oh, let me look at that. Yes, we do.” *Click the button* You can create an entire list of what you need then can either drive to the store and pick it up or at least have a really great list to work with.
By taking five minutes to create a list for the grocery store, you could prevent a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety in your life (and the life of whoever goes into the store with you).
It Only Takes 10 Minutes
If you want to be super effective, plan out your day or better yet—the day ahead. Set aside ten minutes and ask yourself, “What does my tomorrow look like?”
For me, it’s looking at things like my calendar: Where do I need to be?; Who am I meeting with? That highly dictates what type of attire I’m going to want to wear. So then I can start planning out my outfit. I can look at the weather. Decide what I want to wear. I know what promises I have made. I know what my deadlines are. I’m looking at where I need to be, how long it’s gonna take me to get there. Oh, I also need to return this person’s call and send these few emails. I’m literally just creating my own personal checklist and then I can go home and it’s out of my mind.
That’s where a lot of the stress comes into is constantly, constantly thinking about it. It’s rolling around and around and around in your head because if you stop thinking about it, then you’re going to forget and then you’re going to drop the ball. When I leave work for the day after planning, it’s all done. I have done most of the hard work because I know what I need to achieve.
It’s also really great to do this for the week as well, particularly if you’re a Monday through Friday worker. On Friday, before you leave, plan for what your next week will look like: What do I need to do this week?; What does my workload look like?; What does my meeting schedule look like?
Think about this: There are 24 hours in the day, if you spent 10 minutes planning, you would regain hours of your life back every single week because instead of chasing the ball—you’d be ahead of the ball (not to mention all of the emotional energy you would save).
So make a list, prioritize, don’t over-commit to things, and make sure you’re giving yourself the time to sit back and breathe. Anxiety is no one-step fixer-upper, but when it comes to the inducer of feeling overwhelmed/spread thin by too many tasks, or as though you aren’t utilizing each day to its fullest potential, or simply not knowing where to begin with life some days—proactive planning can work at slowly minimizing those feelings.
Tune into the full episode to hear some of my personal struggles with anxiety, the story behind me choosing to discuss this topic, and all of the ways that you can regain control over your anxiety. You are an incredible person with such great things to offer the world—so let’s overcome this beast one step at a time.
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