By Shahin Sharma
There I sat lamenting the impending end of a long weekend, aware of my anxiety level increasing – not just due to the length of my “to do” list, but at the thought of “having so much to do and only one day to fit it all in!”
Not wanting to spend my last day off in an anxiety-driven, activity-filled frenzy to cross things off my “to-do” list, and still desperately craving rest and relaxation, I chose a different approach.
I took a deep breath, and then another, until I felt calm enough to notice my anxiety and its source, which were my thoughts – the negative and self-critical tape that ran repeatedly in my head. I examined these:
- What am I saying to myself? Why?
- Is this actually true? How?
I realized that while I wanted to accomplish certain things, I did not have an actual plan to do so; only an impression of what I needed to do. I did not have a to-do list; only an assessment that it would be a long and arduous one!
So, I took another deep breath and prepared to devise a plan. I also chose to switch to emotions that would better serve me in this process – emotions of curiosity and wonder, rather than anxiety and worry. Now, I had a different energy.
“What do I want my day to look like?” I asked myself. This question felt spacious, relaxed and fun.
As I penned my plan, I noticed that my to-do list looked different from what I had imagined. In addition to chores, my list included feelings, such as “wanting to feel relaxed.” My list also had activities that fed my heart, such as reading a novel. I noticed that I was smiling. I no longer felt anxious but excited and hopeful.
This shift was possible because I paid attention to what was happening with me – my thoughts, emotions, energy – and chose to move towards those that would be more effective in the moment.
Shahin Sharma, BA ACC