“Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you too far”

Sometimes these days, I feel guilty of writing on my own blog. Because, the moment I start writing, I recall the 400,000 things on the to-do list, unfinished. And they haunt me. And I can’t focus on one thing then. (It is perfectly true that I took on far too much work from October and no matter how much I justify it, at times it was unsustainable). And I’m tired of giving in to to-dos every day. And I’ve struggled with unnecessary anxiety for as long as I can remember. Thankfully I was able to self-control, but it has been good enough for nightmares, sleepless nights, email checks at 2 a.m., anger and irritation (often). My blog is my shrink.

3 things I learnt to reduce anxiety

At the airport last year, with 5 hours to go before the flight and with Shantaram not holding my interest, I thought through the past year to reflect on what I had understood differently. And my notes included these.

Plan B: From the Chinese girl, I like: As a child (I do think I was a child in 2007 :P) I had this notion against backup planning. I maintain that as a grown up too, for relationships. I feel there’s nothing worse than thinking of backups while you’re in a relationship. That’s just gross and the indicator that you’re making life miserable for yourself and the other person. However, I’ve learnt that having a plan B (like a mind mapping exercise) for professional, domestic, travel or other matters is quite another thing (like when you’re renting a house in Munich and going through torture). It really reduces anxiety. Because once you have a plan B you’re willing to really push yourself to find the real plan A without feeling the need to compromise. You’re also allowing yourself to be more experimental and pushing yourself to know what really makes you happy.

Preparation: From Susie, the third culture kid, I like: One day I was sitting next to Susie (in the most boring seminar of all time) and I saw her making notes. She had to have a phone conversation with someone later in the day and she was making notes on what she needed to say and preparing herself. This winter while with friends, for the first time, I opened up to say the reason I have some of the worst travel experiences is not because I’m unlucky, but because I often leave things to the last minute. I’m working on it now. It’s improving things. In fact I kept telling people I worked with last year how I was totally not last minute (it’s true: at work largely I’m not). And I tried forcing it on me personally too. Most people don’t believe it, but since I’m naturally last minute, sometimes that also leads to great, unique stories.

Prioritizing the present: From the German girl, I like: Keeping away from this blog last year and especially the summer taught me a few things on living in the present. However, I had a very stressful time end of last year with far too many things to get grips on. Then before Christmas I met my German friend who was beginning to cover stuff that I had finished doing. And (she was not making light of it) she said, well I thought, I should first spend time with the family (Christmas) and then think about all else. I wish one day I have this skill. I want to practice, focus, do anything to be able to not stress out and feel anxious about the next 100 years. Maybe for some people it’s a natural thing to behave so. I want to be able to attain it someday.

Of course now these may be naive to someone else reading, but it has been absolutely critical for me to learn and understand how to potentially be less anxious as a person. Some people work towards the pursuit of happiness. I feel I work towards sufficiently long hours of sleep :-).

Title quote: Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home

  1. Well written! I am however against Plan B because it just sounds uncool. I rather just have many best laid plans 🙂

  2. I am pleasantly surprised read this post as see it as a reflection of my own thoughts.

    When I look back at the week that just past by, I realize that I spent more time in anxiety of *having to do a lot* instead of *doing* things off my to-do list. It seems to be an ever-growing list and by now, I have come to terms with it. Being involved in multiple projects – both at work and otherwise, telecommuting and traveling just add to the equation.

    But the reason I still enjoy my work (and life) is because I don’t push myself to achieve any kind of work-life balance. I hangout with friends out of work and often talk about work, just the way I hangout with people (on iMessage, Facetime and in person) from work and talk to them about life.

    It’s fun! 🙂

    1. haha I love your idea of work-life balance. I do believe there are no set benchmarks for us to follow to reach a perfect level. Just what we’re comfortable with is all that matters 🙂 And I totally get that anxiety of having to do rather than doing!!

  3. this is so wonderful 🙂
    These days I am swamped at work and in life and often wonder what I can do right to not feel stressed (anxious) everyday. Your post has given me ideas for eg. I need regular runs (on the prioritization section). I am also consciously working on not getting irritated by anything people, situations. Still trying to figure out how to tackle that!
    P.S. same pinch on the sleep part 🙂

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