We have been on vacation for the past couple of days, and I can already feel the anxiety creeping in. I am, for the most part, a creature of habit. I thrive on organization, routine, and at least some loose structure. I am able to be laid back and enjoy the moment, but only if I feel like my life is organized. (I realize how ridiculous that may sound…) When I travel for work, it is still fairly structured, so I don’t struggle as much with keeping anxiety in check. But vacations can bring it on quickly and easily, so I’ve spent some time reflecting on what keeps me grounded when I feel overwhelmed, and I wanted to share those tips here.
- Listen to music. Look, I’m kind of emo, so music can get me all in the feels. But it also brings out all of the emotions that I need to feel when I’m overwhelmed–joy, release, humor. I love praise music, and I find that it points me toward Jesus, which is truly what I need when I feel overwhelmed.
- Read Scripture. Full disclosure, I do not have a lot of scriptures memorized, nor can I tell you which book to read about what. And that’s okay, because it’s not necessary for this to work! (Thankfully because that would overwhelm me more!) One thing that I love to do is pull up my Bible app on my phone and do a quick search for key topics. The same works for Google, but sometimes everything it spits back overwhelms me more. (Hello, where do I even start?!) My app will give me several verses based on the key word search, and as I read, I can feel the anxiety melting away.
- Pray. When I feel like it’s all too much, I literally give it over to God. I list out everything on my heart and head, and that release feels so sweet. He already knows all of it anyway, but it feels so good to tell Him how I’m feeling and just be raw and honest. This leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to move forward.
- Don’t overschedule/overcommit. This is advice I should give myself BEFORE vacations, but I never said I was perfect. Vacation should be just that, so an never-ending itinerary can be your downfall. I get wanting to do all the things, but that alone can be overwhelming. (Plus you feel even more anxiety if you aren’t able to cross off everything on your list.) I learned this lesson a few years ago, and it has been a game changer. Prior to vacation, we pick out a few key things that are must do/see/eat, and other than that, we don’t schedule anything. We also build in downtime for when we return. Whether that’s a day or morning off the following day, or just blocking the first couple of hours on my work calendar, I build in time to get caught up and back in the non-vacation mindset.
- Be in the moment. Often times, I find that anxiety is caused by me thinking about things that are in the future. “OMG, when I get back I have all of thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis to do.” And I spend the rest of my time freaking out about that list. Nothing is solved by me worrying about things I can’t control or work on right now, so when I snap myself back into the moment and truly enjoy it, it can be so calming.
- Write it down. Seriously nothing helps me more. Often times, things are bigger in our minds than they are in real life. And our to do lists are no exception. When I’m overwhelmed, I do a big brain dump. I look at every calendar, every list, every thought in my head, and write it all down. From there, I can prioritize and game plan. Most of the time, it’s not nearly as much as it felt like before I wrote it down, and it has a cleansing feeling to get it all out.
- Take a time out. Once you’ve got everything written down, you can figure out if anything has to be done right away. If not, just take a time out. Whether that’s an hour to watch an episode of reality TV, or maybe an entire day to watch Season 3 of RHONY, you know what kind of time you need and what makes you feel refreshed, so take that time. If the to do list can wait, let it wait.
- Exercise. This is the biggest stress relief for me. I truly believe that everyone has some form of meditation in their lives–yoga, bubble baths, long walks, actual meditation–and for me, it’s running. I love to get lost in my thoughts during a long run and literally sweat it all out. Some of my best ideas and solutions have come out of a long run in the fresh air.
- Delegate. Okay, Miss Type A, Do All The Things, is giving you advice that she constantly has to give to herself. Everyone has their holdup on why they don’t delegate, but we all need to consider it more. For me, I don’t want to bother anyone. I feel like I’m now adding more to their list of things to do, so I just overwhelm myself with tasks. It took me years to ask my husband to take over the dry cleaning drop off/pick up. Even though it was 90% his items, and on his way to/from work, I continued to do it. I asked him one time to do it while I was traveling, and it became his task instantly after. He’s more than happy to do it, and he recognizes how easy it is for him and helpful it is for me.
- Turn things down. When you look at that to do list, and you feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do and places you have to be, do you really? Is it all necessary? And if the answer is no, turn it down. You don’t technically have to reorganize your pantry today. You know what items, things, and people take priority, and if it’s only adding to your anxiety, turn it down.
What about you…what do you do when it all feels like too much? Please let me know if there’s anything you would add!