It is important to me that you know that in the past, I have been prone to stress and anxiety. I have been hospitalized twice, and spent almost 5 years on psychotropic medication. Stress and anxiety fueled by my fears and insecurities have at times, wreaked havoc on me and those around me. It hasn’t always been easy. I used to not be able to be in a crowd, go to the grocery store before midnight, there have been times when I have pretty much been confined to my room. When I went out I would become paralyzed. I just told myself “I hate crowds”, and “I hate grocery stores”, but inside I wondered why I wasn’t normal like everyone else seemed to be. These days, I can do most anything, go most anywhere, and everything is okay. I can now do things I couldn’t do in the past. I have been quite some time without medication now. Some days are easy, and some days I really have to practice my techniques for remaining calm. This stuff works!!! So if you are at one of my talks, or if you are reading one of my blogs, you are getting real hands-on tips for dealing with stress. These are tips and techniques that I have used, and still use, in order to maintain my serenity, my peace of mind, and any calmness I may achieve.
I started making “to-do” lists years ago, and immediately this helped me to overcome anxiety. There would be errands to run, and though they were simple enough, I would find myself racing home and hiding under the covers. Somewhere along the line between the grocery store, the bank, the post office, and the dry cleaners, I would just shut down. Which one do I do next? What order can I do things in to keep from going back and forth across town? I would get to a red light, and not know which way to go, and this was when I would just go home. When you don’t know which way to go, nothing but craziness is going to come, so it is best to call it a day. When someone suggested that I make a list, it sounded kind of silly, but I tried it anyway. Instantly I saw the relief, as one day before setting out to run errands, I made a plan. I decided on the route before leaving the house, what would make the most sense in terms of time and driving. Then all I had to do was follow my plan, and as I did things, they got crossed off.
Not only do I have a plan before leaving the house, I have a general list of all the different things that I need to do in my daily life. These days they can get long, because now I have a family, a house, and several different means of income. I deal with a lot of different people and situations, and without my list I can easily just shut down. Here are some tips on using lists to help combat stress and anxiety:
– Develop as much routine in your life as you can
– Make a plan before you leave the house
– Write down all the things you need to accomplish, and then put them in order!
– Make a decision that you are going to stick to the order
– Take your list with you, so that you can cross things off as you go along