Reflecting on the year-plus long break I took from blogging (refer to 430 Days post), one learned strategy I would share to managing anxiety is to “lighten the load” in your life. What I mean by that is to immediately cut back on certain commitments or tasks that are non-essential. Even just temporarily until you can get yourself back on track, so to speak.
I liken this approach to a plane low on fuel. One way to preserve fuel en route to its destination is to make the plane lighter. Hence, toss out some baggage! Sure, there will be some unhappy passengers who would arrive without their clothes, but in the broad scheme of things, at least they will arrive! Would you rather the inconvenience of having to shop for a new wardrobe or perishing in the Pacific? It’s about assessing risk and establishing perspective.
This is the approach I applied to my struggle with anxiety. I lightened the load. I threw away some baggage. I made my daily routine effectively lighter and with time, my life began to feel more manageable. My days became less stressful and I began to feel better overall.
For example: This time last year, I was managing a full-time career; teaching two courses at the university; coaching my son’s hockey team; growing my stigmaCRUSH brand (increasing blog-post volume, twitter posts and gearing up for podcasting); grooming my stand-up comedy ‘career’ (writing new material and accepting as many gigs as I could); volunteering on two separate mental health committees at work; and so on. All of this on top of co-managing a household of six.
With so much baggage on board, my ‘life plane’ was getting low on fuel, so to speak. I needed to lighten the load before the inevitable happened.
The essentials in my life include family, career and teaching – the latter two providing economic benefit. The rest on that list, I would not consider essential. It doesn’t mean that I don’t derive tremendous satisfaction and passion from blogging or comedy, but the reality is, if I quit comedy, it would have no measurable impact on my life. However, if I quit my job, then obviously, there would be considerable financial hardship.
So what did I do to lighten the load? The most difficult was to put my blogging on hold. Then I stepped away from comedy. The following hockey season, I signed up to assist my son’s hockey team instead of head-coaching; I stepped aside from one of my work work committees; and so on.
The point is, I feel that there comes a time when you need to “let go” of the baggage and lighten the load in order to keep your “life plane” on its flight path. As difficult as it was letting go of some things, it contributed to a healthier me over the long run.
The best part in all of this is when you recover some ‘lost’ baggage that you have missed for so long. This is because you stand to gain true appreciaton for it – the value it brings to your life. This was my discovery when I keyed “stigmaCRUSH” into my web browser for the first time in over a year!