6. Accepting Uncertainty

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Last week I wrote about how to feel less overwhelmed, and ironically, this past week has been very overwhelming. In the last week, I had to organize a big event at work. I had hosted this event before so I felt pretty organized and confident that I could pull it off. However, I didn’t expect some new projects to also pop up at the same time. I started to get overwhelmed of course! So I decided to follow my own guidelines to not feel overwhelmed that I wrote about in my last blogpost. I preceded to finish the immediate tasks at hand and plan out my to-do lists on my calendar.

It seemed that I was calming down a little and then suddenly Monday night I just started to feel super overwhelmed. You know that feeling when every anxious thought just starts infiltrating your brain and then the supposed calm you had created just dissipates into thin air. I hate that feeling. I mean, I shouldn’t feel overwhelmed because I was prepared. So I started pacing a little and of course, started talking to my husband. Then, I preceded to distract myself with Instagram and Youtube. Like usual, I got a bit teary, but I guess it wasn’t that bad.

It made me think about how anxiety controls our minds. We become masters at trying to dodge its presence, but no matter how prepared we are, it will always come to haunt us when we can’t accept uncertainty. I know my doctor tells me all the time that the only way I will get better is if I face my fears, but boy is it hard when I do. This week I had to face my fears of being super busy, talking in public, and organizing a big event. I chose to face these fears because I didn’t want my anxiety to hold me back from things I wanted to do. Of course, it all went well and I wasn’t even that anxious at all, but the buildup, the buildup, is always so hard for me. I guess it is true, a battle is not won in a single day, or a week for that matter and what is my battle anyway? Is it to cure my anxiety (which isn’t possible since it is a chronic illness)? Is it to manage it or is it just to be friends with it? Who knows?

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5. How I Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed

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I have been meaning to write this blogpost for awhile, especially around the Christmas and the winter holidays time period. With having to attend Christmas dinners, and buying Christmas presents, December can be very stressful and very overwhelming (I particularly feel like typing the word “very” in capitals). I am definitely one of those people that get overwhelmed easily. It stills happens a lot despite that fact that I am better at dealing with it, and part of me has accepted that I will always be a little overwhelmed. However, there are a few things I do which have helped me feel less overwhelmed over the years and I thought they might be helpful for you.

Focus on the Immediate

Usually, I feel the most overwhelmed when my to-do list starts stacking up. There is so much to do that I simply don’t know where to begin. That is usually when the panic begins to set in and I decide to start finding out a way out before I lose complete control. At this point, I will usually just put the brakes on everything and focus on the immediate thing I need to get done. For me, this is usually the task with the nearest deadline or has the greatest importance to me. Then, I proceed to block out everything till I get this one task finished. After I am done, I find that it buys me a little time to figure out how to complete the other tasks on my plate. Moreover, it just feels good to be able to finish something, even if it seems small in comparison to everything else you need to do.

Plan of Attack

Now, that I am not freaked out about the closest deadline coming up too fast, I then start to wrap my head around how to make the rest of the tasks less overwhelming. I usually have several strategies of attack. Sometimes, I will just add all the events onto my calendar first and then add all the tasks I need to complete each event also on the calendar. I find that once I see how everything fits in, almost like a puzzle, I don’t see it as tons of tasks I have to complete. Instead, I just see it is as a few tasks that I have to complete each day. I also like to spend time prioritizing the tasks each day just in case I don’t finish everything that day. The ones that I have to do for sure are placed at the top of the list. You can also colour-code them so you easily see which ones are the must-dos of that day.

Choosing Perfection

I find I often feel overwhelmed, not only because I have to get a lot done, but also because I want to do everything well. Being perfect all the time, if that does exist, is very difficult to achieve, if not impossible. What I usually do is aim for “more perfection” in some tasks over others. I will think to myself that I want to do Task A and Task B the best I can. Then, I will complete the other tasks well, but not fuss over the small details. I understand that seems like I am not pushing myself enough, but I just think it is a more healthy way to live. I personally don’t think you can be an “A+” in every part of your life. Instead, living a balanced and healthy life has become my form of an “A+.”

What are your tips for feeling less overwhelmed?

4. Triggers and Blogging

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In the last week, I started spending more time reading the blogs of other fellow mental illness sufferers. This is often hard for me because I tend to get triggered by reading other people’s experiences. This would often happen when I was very ill because I would think that what happened to someone else would inevitably happen to me. That is why I tend to only spend maybe once a week reading other people’s blogs. However, I have noticed as time as gone by this has gotten a little easier for me and I started to wonder why.

They say with “knowledge comes power,” and I think this applies to how I feel about my mental illness. As I have learned more about anxiety and depression, I feel that I have developed a greater power to deal with it. When I first discovered I had mental illness, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I thought it might just go on forever and I would never recover. I now know there is a lot of help and support for mental illness and you just have to ask for it. Moreover, as I have dealt with it for over ten years now, I know my symptoms and triggers quite well. If I get stuck, I can always call my doctor. I also realized that everyone’s mental illness is different and comparing isn’t always helpful.

Ironically though, sometimes it can be helpful for me. When I read other people’s blogs and connect with their stories, it makes me feel less alone. It also makes me realize that many of us face the same struggles and we can possibly help each other find a way out. I also think that it also creates a nice sense of community where we can share and help each other. Previously, I have had troubles with going to mental illness support groups. Somehow the face-to-face interactions overwhelmed me and made me overthink my illness sometimes. I just felt less likely to share in these groups because of the judgement perhaps. There is anonymity in the blogging world and this has allowed me to truly express my thoughts. It has all been very therapeutic for me.

3. Self-Care and Productivity

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This week marked a change in routine for me. A family member has returned from her extended vacation. It was a week full of errands, from picking her up from the airport to bringing her to places to pick daily essentials. As I mentioned in other blogposts, I am a person who enjoys routine, so I felt a bit more overwhelmed than usual. However, I know that having her in our lives again will soon become routine again. As someone with anxiety, I always feel like I am living in an oxymoron. I want routine, have to adjust to changes in my routine, and yet I crave some change in my routine as well.

When there is a change in routine, I feel like I always sitting at the edge of a cliff in the beginning. I end up trying to do anything I can to achieve some balance. Usually, this means I will often try really hard to overdo the self-care piece. So much in fact, that I will start thinking maybe I am being too lazy. I think these thoughts go back to my last post where I talk about feeling my sense of mortality and trying to live my life to the fulless.

As I was chilling out one night last week, I started to think that maybe self-care is productive and that I shouldn’t feel bad about it. We often mistake productivity with having to go to work, or cleaning the house. Yet, we often forget that taking care of our minds is productive. On the flip side, should I feel the need to be productive all the time? I mean, is life too short to dissect and try to divvy up ever moment as meaningful and productive? Or should we just go with flow? What do you think?