As an anxious person, it’s very easy to feel like your life has no purpose or direction. This was certainly the case for me. Little did I know that one day this would change and I would be doing what I’m doing now – helping other people out of the darkness and into the light.
During my time of anxiety hell, I felt absolutely terrified and most of all, I felt lost, confused and stagnated. I was like a ship sailing without a map.
In this article, I would like to tell you about how I managed to break out of the stagnation cellar and feel productive and fulfilled.
Before you go to bed…
When bedtime is approaching, I would like you to get a piece of paper and write ‘Tomorrow I would like to’ as the title. Underneath the title (preferably a few lines/spaces down, write down a list of things you would like to do the next day.
I recommend getting another piece of paper to brainstorm a bunch of ideas. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what goes on this list. Just think about all of the things you would normally do. Imagine you didn’t have anxiety.
What sort of things would you be doing in your life if you were living from a calm and authentic place? Create a balance of things that you used to do when you were younger and new things you’d like to try out. I got this idea from The Linden Method.
Let me bring this back down to earth… make sure your list of ideas is realistic. Depending on how you are right now, you might not be up to travelling to another country.
Some people will be able to, others won’t. It all depends on where we are in our journey and the severity of our anxiety. This is not to say that we should write these things off altogether.
So, grab another piece of paper (I promise this is the last one) and write “My desires”. This can be a list of the things which you know you most likely won’t be able to do yet, but they are definitely something that you desire doing.
Write down all the things you really want to do. Don’t let your anxiety talk you out of writing the things down. The reason why this helps is it gets you to look forward to the future.
When the day is up and you’re approaching bedtime, turn over your ‘Tomorrow I would like to’ piece of paper and on the back, write ‘What I did today’ and then write down all the things you managed to do that day. Please don’t overlook this exercise.
I know it might not sound like much right now and it probably won’t make much difference right now, but give it time and you’ll feel more inspired and productive. This is how you can channel the nervous energy into excitement.
By having something to look forward to, you’ll actually feel good about yourself when you write down a list of things you managed to get done that day.
It creates the perfect balance. The night before, you write down a list of the things you want to do the next day, this gets you ready.
After the day is over, you write down a list of all the things you managed to do that day. Even if you don’t manage to get everything done which will happen a lot of the time, you can still go to bed feeling good about yourself..
What you are doing here is creating a positive environment for your emotional well-being. See how much of a difference this could really make?
This is a million times more useful than having nothing to look forward to, not knowing what we are going to be doing, stagnating and spending the day dwelling on the anxiety.
Why is this important?
It builds self respect and self esteem. It also builds momentum.
Having something else to focus on other than anxiety is important. When you are thinking about what you are going to be doing, then you will not be thinking about the anxiety.
Sure, you will still experience undesirable thoughts and sensations but you surrender to these (completely allow them to be) while you keep focused on the day ahead which is intentionally planned out.
In order to recover from the disorder, we can only replace it. At the end of the day, the anxiety disorder has become habitual. The only way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a better one.
I truly believe that doing this exercise is one way of replacing the habit of anxiety. One of the major keys to healing from anxiety disorder is to break the habit of focusing and obsessing over it.
When your mind has something else to focus on, it will start to overwrite the anxious programming.
Going back to the exercise again…
If it was to be in some kind of order, I would recommend doing something like this:
1) Brainstorm all the things that you enjoy in life. Remember, it doesn’t matter what those things are, no matter how big or small. Really think about the things you used to enjoy doing and also new things you want to try.
2) If you do not feel that you are ready to do some of the things you want to do yet, then add these to another piece of paper called “my desires/aims”
3) Before bed, write down what you want to do the next day on a separate piece of paper.
4) During the next day, keep your list with you and try to do as much as you can. Remember to not over do it and have fun. Take things easy. This doesn’t need to be a rigid structure with time slots if you don’t want that.
5) At the end of your day, write down the things which you managed to do. Don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up if you didn’t do all you wanted. Be grateful that you are changing your focus from being focused on anxiety to having purpose a routine filled with the activities you want to do.
6) Rinse and repeat everyday or as much as possible.
I trust that this post will help you get into the positive and productive mindset, alongside having things to focus on each and every day.
If you have any questions about this post, you’re more than welcome to ask me. Feedback is always appreciated.
Until next time.