We all know adulting is tough. The constant responsibilities and expectations to find and keep a solid job, eat right, stay healthy, manage your money, and somehow balance a social life and your sanity seem almost impossible at times. This is all even more challenging when you struggle with anxiety.
You often find your mind racing a million miles an hour trying to figure out how to manage all of your responsibilities and your life in general. There’s even a small voice in the back of your head whispering, “You can’t do this, there’s no way. Why are you even trying?”
I’ve been in your shoes. Combining the struggles of anxiety and adulting is no picnic. However, I discovered some small steps you can take in order to start moving forward with your responsibilities, even if you’re stressed or overwhelmed. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try some of the following actions to help you stay productive while struggling with anxiety.
Simplify Your To-Do List
When you struggle with anxiety, usually the last thing you want to look at is a long list of things you need to get done during the day. It often times can make you feel even more anxious and stressed, which is counterproductive. A way to avoid this and increase your productivity, break down your to-do list into smaller steps. For example, instead of writing down a big assignment due next week on your list, write one or two of the simple next steps you need to take for the big project. Do you need to write an email to someone? Create an outline? Clarify something you’re unsure about? Not only will doing this help you take steps forward and be productive, but it will also help you feel overall more accomplished each time you check or cross off a completed smaller task. Every step forward is one to be proud about!
Get Everything Out of Your Head
Every once in a while if I have too much on my mind because of stress or anxiety, one way to help clear my head enough to take steps forward with my productivity is by writing down everything I’m thinking about on paper. I’ve been an avid journal writer for years, but you don’t necessarily have to write essays in order to feel better. Sometimes simply writing a list of the main points or topics of what’s racing through your head will give you a sense of ease.
I specifically remember a day at my last job where I had literally too much swirling through my head that I couldn’t even decide what to do to start my workday. As soon as I took out a notebook and wrote down everything that was on my mind, I felt like a huge load had been lifted off of my shoulders. Seeing all of my concerns and worries on paper helped me realize that some of the things causing me stress were very small, or something I couldn’t deal with until after I was off work that day.
Schedule Time for Self-Care
If you don’t schedule and make it a priority to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically, there’s a small chance you’ll be able to stay productive and overall feel better. When I was at my worst with my anxiety last year, a huge part of it was because I wasn’t taking time for myself during the day. You may feel like you need to get everything done and be as productive as possible if you have a lot on your plate, but I promise that allowing yourself to practice self-care will help you be able to tackle those tasks with higher amounts of ease.
If you feel like you’re too busy or very new to self-care, I highly recommend joining my Self-Care for Busy Millennials E-Course, where in five days I break down five simple lessons to help you build a solid foundation of self-care in your busy life.
Set a Timer
Staring at your to-do list can be daunting. You’re probably thinking, how on earth am I supposed to finish all of this today?! One way to feel a little less intimidated by your responsibilities for each day is to set a timer when you work. My therapist once told me that as humans, our average attention span usually doesn’t last much longer than 20 to 25 minutes at a time. This is one reason why I highly recommend using the Pomodoro Method. This method advises you work in 20 to 25-minute chunks of time, with five to 15-minute breaks in between. This way you don’t feel like you need to consistently slave over your project or task and know there’s a quick break to help you take a breath, walk around, or do anything you need to get away and feel less overwhelmed.
I often use Tomato Timer for the Pomodoro Method, but there are plenty of apps and websites that provide pre-scheduled timers that automatically break up your work and break time for you. Of course, you are more than welcome to use a simple timer on your phone or computer as well!
There are sometimes those days where you simply can’t move forward with your work or day. I want you to know that it’s okay to take breaks and put yourself first. If you’re like myself and someone who constantly strives to be productive and move forward, please do NOT feel guilty for not always performing your best when you have anxiety. Some days are harder than others, and it’s completely okay to take the time to gather yourself before getting back to the daily grind.
What are some ways you try to stay productive when dealing with high amounts of stress or anxiety? Let me know in the comments!