Anxiety and Action
I was standing in the front garden the other day and looking at the mess of weeds that were smothering the flowers and shrubs. While it was a lovely warm morning with blues skies and a gentle breeze and the ground had been softened from an overnight shower, I just couldn’t muster the will to start pulling the weeds. The task seemed just so overwhelming. Where to even start?To be honest what I really wanted to do was jump back into bed and hope that everything would go away. I was in the middle of a fair sized anxiety attack. I prefer to use anxiety rather than panic – to the external observer I just seem withdrawn or grumpy.
Apart from writing about anxiety here I don’t tell anyone about it. Not healthy I know, but I have a bad habit of imaging people’s responses before I try to explain anything to them. As a result I let myself believe that there is no point in discussing my feelings when I think I know what people’s responses will be:
You’ve nothing to be anxious about!
You just need to figure out what’s causing it
Just try stopping!
There are plenty people worse off than you
What have you got to complain about?
You get the picture.
These responses are unfounded, but in my mind they provide part of the cycle of anxiety that I am trying to break.
That morning the approach I took was to tell myself I didn’t have to clear all the weeds. Just one or two. So I started pulling the milk thistle out of the ground. They were at least 2 feet tall but not have very strong roots they easily came up, and with out me having to bend over. One weed became two, two became four and before I knew it I had filled my tigger tub and was emptying into the recycling bin.
I felt a bit better, a little less anxious. The task didn’t seem quite so overwhelming. I grabbed my hand fork got down and started stabbing at the dirt. Soon I had cleared and raked a strip right along the front of the house.
By now it was getting hot so I took a break and deadheaded the roses – another easy win.
The point is this. Faced with an overwhelming task, whether or not you have anxiety issues try this:
- Break it down into small chunks
- Tell yourself you are only going to do one chunk
- Pick an easy chunk to start with
- Do it
Nine times out of ten you will then realise that it’s not so bad. Just do a little chunk, take a break then try another. And then another. Of course this just doesn’t apply to gardening, it also applies to report or essay writing, managing projects, getting into shape.
By the time I had finished for the day the garden was looking much better. The job wasn’t finished but I had done enough to want to continue and try and make it look as good as it could be. And my anxiety? It had faded away like the early morning mist.