Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Managing Myself

Welcome to my blog. Enjoy! 

I've been consciously living with anxiety for about 4ish years now. I've been managing my anxiety for almost none of those years. Kind of. I'm getting better. I don't take medications as I've never managed to make myself a priority to go to a doctor to help. 

Like I'm pretty confident there a bunch of other people who have what I have and are barely managing as well and well, my brain is stuck on the It's fine meme...you know...the one with the dog and the coffee and the fire and he's just sitting there. Yeah. I feel like that's what my mind is doing right now.

It's cool. I think it's fine. But I know other people need me to do things and so I have to do some things and this is how I manage myself and I hope this might help you: 

How I Manage Myself a true story by me.

1. I like lists. Sometimes I'll write a list at the end of the day to just cross things off so I can have that hit of dopamine. The list helps me keep track of the ramblings in my brain. I make lists for all sorts of things, what I have to do today, what I want to clean in the office, what I need at the grocery store, who I need to contact for events or things, what I want to write about, things I want to craft, just lists. Again, it really helps the ramblings in my brain and helps me to not forget things.

2. Small time increments. I do things in small increments (except reading, I'll read for hours). I do this to convince myself to do things (otherwise I'll read). I follow this woman on YouTube Sarah Beth Yoga, and she's amazing! I love her content, but, BUT what I love most about her is that one of her playlist video groupings is 10 minute yoga videos. Yes I like yoga and yes I want to do more, but my anxiety almost won't let me do more than 10 minutes at a time. Sure I can do 3 of her videos in row and feel awesome! but I can't START anything more than 10 minutes. So I do 10 minutes. I choose a small increment and do it. It helps to manage me. I can on occasion convince myself that after 10 minutes I can lay there and spiral again if I need to (because who doesn't anxiety spiral!). If I can do this one thing for 10 minutes then I'm good!  I use the small time increments for other things too, such as writing this blog post (I gave myself 30 minutes), and applying to jobs.  I choose time increments over quantity increments (such as applying to 3 jobs instead of 30 minutes) because I can set a time and watch the clock tick down (but I don't focus on the clock) and it also stops me from spiraling into "what if I can't find 3 jobs to apply to, then I'll never be done!" 

3. Theme Music! Well not theme music so much as focus music. If I really need to get something done and it requires a good amount of focus I'll play the Hans Zimmer Pandora station. I discovered this trick on Pinterest. As I was perusing Pinterest, a suggestion jumped out at me for focusing. "If you need to focus on a task, play the Hans Zimmer Pandora Station." Apparently Mr. Hans Zimmer wrote the scores for some great movies and it's the type of movies where the characters are focused (Inception, Dune, Interstellar, The Dark Knight, to name a few). It's a similar suggestion to listening to video game music (and not the Nintendo ones). The music helps to focus, it's a white noise in your ears that almost demands you to ignore it while gently placing your blinders on so all you see is the task in front of you. This along with the small time increments really does help with managing my anxiety because it always comes back to baby stepping.

4. Alarms and Notifications: This one works well with numbers 2 and 3. I have a ton of Timers on my phone in my Clock app. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. All times of keeping myself occupied until I can be done. Once I decide I'm going to do a task for a small amount of time, I set a timer and I'm off! I may glance over and check my alarm but for the most part, I commit, and the only one I use 45 minutes for is my walk because 45 minutes is a long time for me to focus, but it's ok for a walk for me.  I also use my notifications so I can keep track of things that I need to remember but not every day (like changing my contacts every 2 weeks, which child showers "first"...side note: yes this will be a thing if you have kids IYKYK...when did I last color my eyebrows). I have notifications and calendar reminders for them all. It helps similarly to having a uniform. I know plenty of productive people talk about having a work uniform or a style uniform so they don't get decision fatigue, well alarms and notifications really help with that. "It's on my calendar so it's a decision I already made a while ago, can't change it now!" Using alarms and notifications and calendar reminders help to keep my brain less cluttered.

5. 5,4,3,2,1 BLAST OFF! Mel Robbins taught me this and I use it when I'm really really REALLY unmotivated. She wrote a book called "The 5 Second Rule" and she talks all the science behind it and personal stories and it's awesome and I loved it. But what it boils down to is this: Your brain wants you to stay safe. Anxiety is not safe. Your brain says "THIS" is not safe (and "THIS" could be anything, taking out the trash, writing a blog post, doing the dishes, paying a bill, anything!). Your brain will stop you from doing "THIS" because....reasons. Count down from 5 and then move your body (get off the couch, wave your hand, jiggle your foot, MOVE your body). This simple act of counting down (because unless your a mathematician there is nothing before 1) and moving your body uses different brain pathways than your spiraling anxiety. It breaks the cycle, even if it's JUST enough, you're now on the move to doing something. Which allows you to set a timer for 10 minutes to do some yoga, or put on a playlist and write your paper for 20 minutes.

6. Always reward yourself. I always reward myself with more reading. But sometimes its chocolate. When you do a thing (write a list, theme music, time increments) always give that reward. It helps to condition the brain that you do the thing, you get the reward. You hear the bell, you get to eat. Yes it's Pavlovian but it gets the job done. At least for me.

I do hope even one of these ideas helps you. I know they help to manage me when I need it (which lately is all the time). Have a great rest of your day!