Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Anxious Girl's Guide To Tackling A Project

Quick Note: Mental illness is a serious issue, and I am very aware of this fact, as I suffer from anxiety and depression among other things. Included in this post are my opinions about my own personal experiences, and I am not in any way attempting to make a bold claim about mental health as a whole.
You have something that you need to get done, but you feel that you just can't. You have a mental block that is keeping you from finishing that very important project. Maybe you have an essay that is coming due. Maybe you need to clean and organize your room, which currently resembles the sea of decay. You realize that to most this might be an easy task, but you just can't figure out how to work past this growing anxiety that's churning in your brain.

I completely understand how you feel. More often than not, I have become a slave to my own anxiety, and it has effected my quality of life on a number of occasions. It has even kept me from updating this blog at times, but after getting to know myself, my own needs and desires, I've started to work hard at quelling those anxious thoughts and trying to make my situation as painless as possible. That's why I've decided to create this little guide with a few tips to helping others with anxiety and other mental health issues to finish those pending projects and helping them work at meeting their own deadlines.
So you've picked a date when you would really like to start tackling that project head-on, and even the day before you're starting to dread the goal you've set for yourself. Worry not, because you haven't set yourself up for failure. It helps to figure out the day before how you would like to start your "big day" and then making any preparations the night before that will make things easier for you. Perhaps picking out clothes the night before will help you feel better prepared the next day, even if your project is an at-home one where nobody will see you. It's all about your state of mind, and anything that will make you feel your absolute best is valid.

You also might want to consider pampering yourself a bit the night before, so that you will feel positive, refreshed, and fully rested when you wake up in the morning. Some of my personal favorite ways to lead up to a big day are to take a relaxing bath or shower, put on my softest PJs or a robe, curl up in a bed with clean sheets, a glass of water at my bedside, and then I like to put on a couple episodes of my favorite show. Whether it's something I'll actively watch before turning in, or something I've seen a million times to put on in the background as I doze off. Set up the best conditions for yourself so that you get your best start in the morning, and try to take deep breaths whenever you catch yourself worrying and obsessing about the next day.

This is probably the most important step of all, something that will make tacking that project finally seem possible.If you are someone that deals with anxiety, whether constantly or only occasionally, you may already know some things that work to calm you down. These are known as coping mechanisms. And even if you are one of the lucky ones that has never personally struggled with mental illness, there is something that we all collectively understand: things that make us feel happy, or feel comfortable, or even safe.

Make this day as easy for yourself as possible by preparing yourself in a way that starts you off feeling calm and at ease. For example, if I know I have a day where I need to start cleaning up my room, which can sometimes be overwhelming for me, I like to make sure I wake up earlier (also aided by going to bed earlier, something to keep in mind with Step 1) and getting Hotcakes from McDonald's as my breakfast, because they are simply delicious, and this breakfast choice brings back fond memories of my childhood. So ask yourself, "What makes me happy?" and then do whatever it takes to get yourself in a positive mental state before you start a shred of work. Maybe you like to lay in bed and listen to music? Spend time putting on makeup and making yourself look and feel beautiful? Set aside an hour or two to surf the web/watch YouTube videos/play video games? Whatever it takes, let yourself indulge in yourself before you begin. Don't feel like this is you "holding your own hand" in order to get something accomplished, it's merely an example of pampering yourself and preparing yourself for what is to come.
Before you click away in fear, I am not talking about seeking a counselor or about medication or treatment when I say "getting help." What I mean is that there is no rule that says you can't tackle this project of yours without a little help from a friend, family member, or a significant other. I know just how hard it can be to ask for help when you might need it, and if you don't feel up to getting help directly with your project, there are still some things you can do.

If you really need some actual help with what you're trying to accomplish, you can always try asking a few days, or even weeks, before the day you have set to try and be productive. But if that idea really scares you, there are still ways of getting help while still working solo. Just having a friend text you a few words of encouragement on your big day can be enough to put a smile on your face and leave you feeling capable of getting work done. Even just making sure to get a quick hug before you start to work can make a world of difference in your mental state. Whenever I've had a really bad day, I message my boyfriend and tell him that I could use a hug. He's usually quick to come right over, and he'll even fetch me my favorite blanket to curl up in and a drink or something to eat. He'll do everything shy of tucking me into an anxiety blanket burrito and feeding me chips :P

Even if he can't be around when I'm feeling anxious or depressed, just him telling me that he hopes I'll feel better soon and that he cares about me can make a world of difference, and having that positive mindset will set you on the right track to productivity.
Easier said than done. Everybody who has dealt with mental illness has probably heard the phrase "don't beat yourself up about it" and might even be sick of hearing about it by now, because it's not something we can really help. Even though it's been advised to death, I still need to say it now: Nobody is perfect. You know how true that is. Things might not work out the way you planned when you set out time to tackle your project, and that is okay. Even if you end up missing a deadline, which easily feels like the absolute end of the world, a better time will come.
Here's something I try to do when I'm feeling my worst: Even when something has gone horribly wrong, a thought pops into my head: "One day, in the future, I will be able to look back on this moment, and all it will be is a memory." It seems simplistic, but having that mindset has helped me ground myself on a number of occasions.
This is some advice I learned from NaNoWriMo 2014, specifically from found Chris Baty's book No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide To Writing A Novel In 30 Days. A "totem" is something of a magical object - at least, it's magical to you! This can be virtually anything, from a viking hat to a figurine to a favorite book that you like to carry around. Having a totem that you can wear is a bonus, because it's something you can easily keep on you when you need it most. A few examples of a wearable totem are:
  • A cozy onesie
  • Your favorite blanket
  • A fuzzy scarf
  • Super soft socks
  • A cool hat
  • Gloves
  • Cozy sweater
  • Funky shoes
  • etc. etc. etc.
When I participated in NaNoWriMo a couple years ago, I had a funny Nyan Cat hat as my totem. When I participate this year, more than likely my totem will be one of my boyfriend's sweaters :P The purpose of having a totem when you have anxiety is so that you can have something you can hold or put on that signals to you, "This item gives me magical powers. It gives me confidence to do what needs to be done. It fuels my physical, mental, emotional, and creative energy, and it will help me achieve my goals." A little bit of mental magic goes a long way.

Those are all the tips I have! This post is very close to my heart, and I hope that you enjoyed it, and can even make use of some of these tips. Let me know in the comments below if you found any of this useful, or if you have any tips of your own from your personal experiences - I would love to hear from you :)<3 div="">


  1. Love this so much that I had to bookmark it for when I am mentally prepared enough to tackle my next project. Everything you said describes what I go through whenever I decide on a new project - so I'm hoping that your tips will help me to actually complete a project...and in turn help me to become a bit more self-confident, or rather recover some of it?

    1. Oh thank you so much!!! If this post can help 1 other person that goes through the same struggles, I'll be extremely grateful. Wishing you luck on your next big project & mentally sending you happy & confident thoughts :)

  2. Yes! Doing something that makes you happy is something that's so underrated but important.

  3. Great post I know these struggles all to well, I absolutely love the idea of having a totem I'm definitely going to use that xoxo

  4. This is great! I think I'll bookmark this so I can remember to come back for reference when I need it. Thanks!

  5. Love this post! Step 2 is probably my favorite since I'm a big fan of focusing on what makes you happy. Thanks for linking up with Bloggy Brunch last week!