If you're a control freak, like me, and prone to burning yourself out, then feeling overwhelmed and anxious will be a familiar feeling for you. When my To Do List starts to become terrifyingly long, and I’ve said yes to Sarah's birthday party on Saturday, but I’ve really got to get your skates on for an exam on the following Monday, my Angsty Brain starts to operate in either one of two ways:
Brain Operation One: Work myself into the very core of the earth: I operate (barely) on 4 hrs sleep a night for weeks (2am is a practical time to write lists, right). I work 12 hour days, run 6km and then write an essay. I forget to eat. I forget to call my parents. I am on a goddam mission to SUCCEED. Visualise a juggler that has forgotten to take a break in several days and whose elaborate clown makeup is dripping off their face from sweat - it's no longer an entertaining act, and quite frankly, it's a bit scary to watch.
Brain Operation Two: I freak the f*ck out and go into a deep cave of avoidance: I call in sick to work. I wear activewear and/or pyjamas for many days at a time. I barely manage to attach my laptop charger to the power-board so that I can continue binge watching Downton Abbey. I submit assessments late and completely rationalise why I was too busy baking elaborate cakes and online window-shopping to actually sit down and write the damn essay.
Neither of these options are advisable nor are they being actively promoted in this post. What is being encouraged is finding a healthy halfway point that involves a delicate balance of Just Showing Up and Learning To Say No.
Over the years, I have learnt that the secret to succeeding with an Angsty Brain is routine and consistency. Why? 90% of success is about Just Showing Up. Think about professional athletes, yes they are incredibly talented, but what sets them apart from the abundant supply of incredibly talented people is their willingness to show up. Every. Dang. Day.
On the days you feel tired and overwhelmed and your brain is screaming, "THIS SHIT IS TOO MUCH AND TOO HARD", getting up, getting dressed and getting to your desk means you're most of the way there. In fact, you're killing it! Just Showing Up may seem deceivingly simple, but as all anxious minds are aware - sometimes it's the people who need routine and consistency the most, that are the people that actively avoid routine and consistency in their lives.
Learning to stop, breathe and just get through the tasks that are Immediate and Important to YOU (sorry Sarah's birthday party) is crucial for people who are prone to overcommitting themselves. This is why the delicate art of Learning to Say No is so flipping important.
Where your mind goes, your energy goes. If your mind is so preoccupied with organising a fundraising activity for a uni society that you neglected a 45% assessment task, you are NOT allocating your mind and energy resources effectively. Plenty has been written about The Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Read it. Realise that time/money/energy are finite resources and I promise, that the day you do your life will be infinitely easier and who knows, you might just be able to continue juggling all of those balls (and even sneak in some Downton Abbey later...).