I’m a card carrying worrier.
I’m genetically predisposed to worry about loved ones.
It’s in my nature to be concerned about how the bills will get paid, about the results of standard medical exams, about whether the plane is going to gently soar into the skies after take off or take a screeching nose dive back onto the runway.
All this I
begrudgingly lovingly refer to as my “anxiety issues”.
Generally speaking, I’m a fairly well adjusted individual. I don’t suffer from panic attacks and I get through the day without worrying that a meteor is going to fly through my office window…
But when I start thinking about the relationships and friendships I’ve built, I can get a little distracted by the health and strength of those relationships.
When I think about my family – my parents, siblings, nephews – I worry about them not always being there and I find myself responding more profoundly to stories of lost loved ones.
When I think about my future family and life milestones, I worry that the happiness that I’ve recently found could be taken away from me – that I may not get my happy ending.
When I think about job security and student debt, I feel powerless to change my situation and worry if I’ll ever be financially self-sufficient.
All this worrying is exhausting. While there are legitimate reasons to have these feelings, they cannot and should not play a significant role in your day to day life. When I feel myself starting down the path to worry and anxiety, I have taken to confronting these feelings head on…
With an old fashioned pen and paper.
These notes I write to myself, are just that. They will never see the light of day. They often don’t even survive long before they find their way to their final resting place at the bottom of the recycling bin.
Once I’ve written my worrisome thoughts out (sometimes bordering on the ridiculously melodramatic)…
I aim to distract myself.
A couple weeks ago I was at my sister’s house. She was trying to get some things together before we went to drop my car off at the repair place, and her two sons were home with her husband. The eldest is 6 years old and a truly remarkable young man already, and was behaving as such. The youngest, at nearly 3 years old, was struggling with the idea that his mom was heading out the door without him, and made that much clear to anyone in the immediate vicinity. He was upset, he wanted her attention, he was going to work himself into a tizzy at the rate that he was going. So once reasoning with him was determined to be insufficient and unsuccessful, I decided distraction was the next best thing.
How do you distract a runny nosed, pink faced, not-quite-toddler-anymore child desperately trying to be heard?
A game of wheelbarrow around the kitchen of course.
It worked. Cries were replaced with giggles and everyone was soothed for the time being.
The lesson I took from this, was that sometimes the best way to not worry about those “out-of-your-control” items, is to simply do something else instead.
Lose yourself in a book, watch a movie, cook meals for the rest of the week, clean and reorganize the apartment.
Keeping busy has taken on a completely new meaning to me in the last eight months.
Being in a quasi-long distance relationship with someone still in university has it’s challenges. Fortunately the obstacles have proved not to be insurmountable. The fact that time is precious, and time together is even more so cannot be overstated. With one person having more on their plate and more at stake than the other (academically speaking), the other’s free time seems to double.
I’ve decided that rather than sit around on the weeknights twiddling my thumbs, I would make that time count.
Whether it’s working on my ever-evolving apartment/DIY showroom, taking on a Teaching Assistant job at a university, taking an online marketing course, getting a head start on Christmas gifts, or simply spending time with family and friends, I don’t feel the hours as they slip by now.
My busyness also lends to more interesting conversations at the end of the day when the boy takes a break from studying.
By distracting myself with new projects and existing relationships I feel like I am not only keeping the anxiety at bay, but I’m (more importantly) working towards self-improvement.