This morning was a pretty serious anxiety attack (for me; I didn’t have to go to the hospital or anything). I got to the point where I could journal, then started working away at the knot of it, pulling out one thread at a time. Now, I’m still anxious–but I’m not locked up and frozen. I think that’s a good goal: not to overcome anxiety per se, but not to be unable to take action. (Ironically, when there is an actual emergency, I function quite well, thank you.)
Here’s my current list of workarounds:
- Make decisions ahead of time so that when I’m least able to make decisions, I don’t have to.I have a list of things that I have planned to do on a daily basis. (If I’m working on something that takes all day, I blow them off.) Some are maintenance habits, like journaling, meditation, and exercise; others are marketing-related, like my current goal of writing short Twitter-length hooks for everything I have on sale, and setting them up to auto-post on Hootsuite. Studying writers. Clear out emails. Write reviews.
I also have 1-2 major projects that I decide on the night before, usually one personal project and one client project.
- Go numb as long as it takes to get to the point where I’m not pacing the room like a caged tiger, and no longer. I have to eat and drink during this phase, do self-care.
- Journal. Sometimes my anxiety has one key action that I can take that will make me feel better (doing X because it’s been on my mind lately). Sometimes it’s sorting out one specific action to take that will address a looming concern or something I’m working on. Journaling helps sort out what those often mysterious actions should be.
- Make an “all the things” list where I write down everything I’m panicked about not getting done right now. A lot of these are going to be filler.
- Make a practical list where I write down what I can reasonably accomplish. If it’s more than a handful of things, then I have to toss it out and start over.
- Tackle one thing at a time, but allow for side quests. If I don’t have to force myself to do something, it’s often much easier to do. “Oh I could just do this one thing while I’m here.” The side quests are usually where I get most of my work done on days like this.
- When I can’t do that, clean, cook, put things in order. Today was cream scones.
- Watch for clenched solar plexus. It’s a sign that I’m trying to go numb again…which is only going to make things worse.
- Watch for gifts. Anxiety sometimes throws you some weirdly beneficial stuff in the middle of the misery. An insight that escaped you previously, knowledge of what’s truly important, dissolution of an illusion.
Today’s gift: I realized that I hate making plans, to the point where I’ll get anxious over doing it. I’m much better at systems; I would rather take low-cost, high-efficiency, high-reward actions with the option to reassess immediately and change or reinforce/double-down on tactics swiftly and smoothly.
“Reduce the amount of effort it takes to produce quality fiction suited to my cluster of genres; while continuously improving the quality and salability of that work; across an ever-broadening network of readers, fans, and professionals.”
To me, this is far more valuable than a plan.
I also got: “FAIL CONTINUOUSLY, EFFICIENTLY, AND NON-REPETITIVELY.”
That I can do.