One of my biggest anxiety triggers is time pressure. Most people will be able to relate in some way to this because modern life is run at a fast pace, and we don’t seem to be able to take a break.
For me most of the time pressure came at work, I was snowed under and never felt as though I was on top of the workload, I always seemed to be playing catch-up. E-mails were the biggest problem for me because the time taken for people to respond was pretty quick. It is the speed of modern communication that causes a lot of additional stress at work because people can respond almost instantaneously, or jump on the phone as soon as they have seen your e-mail (sometimes without reading it properly…..)
The pressures of time also spread to my home life; working Monday to Friday, it only left the weekend to do homey things, such as cleaning. I had so much I needed to squeeze into a weekend that it was Monday before I even knew where I was.
When the anxiety and depression took full control of my life, I found that I seriously struggled with time, and also struggled with doing the tasks that used to cause me time pressure, such as cleaning the bathroom. Now I know this is no-one’s favourite job and most of us will put it off for as long as we can, but I had a real physical problem with being able to do this simple task, it made me anxious to even think about it…..
While I am much better than I was (at one point I couldn’t even complete a diary of tasks and allot times to each task, I could not get the pen to move) it is still a big problem; I am fine if I have time to plan, but watch out if something happens to change the plans at the last minute… It is almost like my ability to cope has done a runner.
Time pressure really hit home for me a couple of weeks ago; you may have read my blog about the goals I had set myself? One of the goals was to start a course on counselling and psychology; I was very excited about it and even arranged to go for an interview at the college.
The night before the interview I became hugely anxious, I started worrying about the cost of the course, the cost of travel, the time of travel (it would have been one day a week between 6:30pm and 8:30pm, my mind shouted RUSH HOUR!!!), not being able to do it and wasting people’s time…. you name it I thought of every possible problem, and soon I had amassed such a collection of reasons why I could not do it that I told Kim I was going to cancel the interview.
Initially I was disappointed, however after cancelling the interview and deciding I might wait until 2020 to do the course I felt like a weight had been lifted. I realised that I had also been giving myself too much to do and something had to give way.
Releasing the pressure felt wonderful. Kim helped me even more; I was focusing on trying to get companies to sponsor the fundraising events I want to do and getting stressed about it? Kim suggested I just make a start on doing the events, and literally take it one step at a time; “maybe companies would be more interested once they see what you are doing?” she said.
Another weight was lifted and I actually booked my first event, a 10k run.
So, my amended goals are as follows:
Goal 1 – Exercise:
This is well under way; I have dusted off the Davina exercise DVD and started running.
Goal 2 – Fundraising:
I want to raise money for Mind and also raise awareness of mental health in the workplace. I have created ‘Adventures of an Anxious Mind’ and will be raising money on an ongoing basis whilst tackling some great challenges.
Goal 3 – Help Kim with Her Business:
Kim has been an amazing support for me, and she has had so much to put up with over the last three years so I want to help her do the work she really wants to do.
So far I have helped her to build two websites; we just need to work on getting her more clients now.
Hopefully there won’t be any further changes to my goals, just lots of positive updates on progress.
If you feel that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, then you need to stop and assess what you are doing.
Is it you piling on the pressure? If so, then see what you can let go of.
Is it someone else putting you under pressure? If yes then tell them that you are struggling and they need to get off your back.
Either way you owe it to yourself to try and release some of the pressure you are under. Ask yourself if the pressure is necessary, or could you make some changes to lighten the load?
Our minds and bodies cannot cope with constant high levels of stress, and taking the odd holiday or sick day is not going to help you in the long term, you need to look after yourself for the long haul.
I know it is easier said than done, and I know that it is not always easy to do less, but I at least want you to be aware of the stresses you are under and try to make even small changes to alter the situation.
Take care, and remember to breathe and relax…
Thank you, thank you, thank you