I always start with the best of intentions when it comes to my writing projects, but we know the road to hell is paved with those right?
The problem is, I take the wind from my own sails with all my self doubt, procrastination and anxiety. I’ve always been an anxious person since I was a child and life’s cruel twists and turns have seen to it that anxiety and self doubt have become permanent fixtures in my life.
So I set my sights on a number of projects and then with real life dipping, or often sledgehammering it’s way in, I become overwhelmed and nothing gets done.
A few years ago a good friend taught me about “Spoon Theory.” A theory created by Christine Miserandino who was suffering from an auto-immune disorder, but it can equally be applied to mental health, Basically we start our day with a certain number of spoons and if we aren’t in the right headspace, we could end up using our daily allotment of spoons by midday. This means borrowing from tomorrow, draining us even further and faster the next day.
Most of my “spoons” are not used on creativity sadly. Mine are used on worrying about everything from my health to that of my family, job insecurities, finances, world events. The same as everyone you might think? No, not even close. I tend to think everything is life threatening, catastrophic and we are all doomed and all doomed right now. Not all the time, but enough for it to have a huge impact on my creative flow by using up all my energy and leaving me emotionally drained.
I started to steady out quite well, but then COVID hit last March and once again life threw several curve balls at me, from my job to hospitalisation and deaths of loved ones, as well as contracting COVID quite badly myself. As you can imagine this set me back considerably.
Outwardly you would never see this of course. I come across as positive, confident and in control. The epitome of the duck on the water, calm on the surface and peddling like crazy underneath.
So I started to do a bit of research and it would appear that my pre-disposition for worry and thriving on the pressure of deadlines and doing things last minute, is a known pattern of stress addiction for want of a better word, that has been going on for some time.
It’s time to make changes. I’m not getting any younger as they say, and this way of existing is not just debilitating for me, but for my loved ones too who have to live with it first hand,
So the first thing I have started doing is simply not overwhelming my senses. I could be working on the computer, doing one thing on the iPad and checking notifications on my phone, while the TV is on. Not good!
The other thing I need to do is stop taking on other people’s problems. I have empath tendencies and spend more time and effort worrying and helping folks with either emotional issues, practical help and project work than they do on themselves. I’m there for those who need me, but no longer at a cost to myself every time,
Now I make use of the work/sleep/focus settings on my Apple products which means I am not interrupted and I get a great sense of peace of mind while I concentrate on a particular task or just chilling. I am learning to say no to requests and projects. I have done way too much for too many for free. Well not free, it has cost me in energy and putting my own projects on the back burner.
I am also going back to the things I love doing to unwind. Cooking, baking, jigsaws and reading, trying not to feel guilty for doing them – feeling instead that I should be writing or pushing myself on social media. It has also affected my big love of listening to music, so back to the AirPods and floating on riffs of Rory Gallagher, bouncing around ideas to Maiden, chilling with Hans Zimmer or re-energising with The Prodigy- wherever the mood takes me!
I’m hoping by making time for myself and indeed my family, I will have enough distractions without pressure to push the anxiety away. From this I hope to have more energy and focus to create the amount of writing and other projects I know I can, without being under intense deadlines and people hovering and taking advantage.
Writing was always escapism for me, but I let it become an additional stress trigger and that is unacceptable. I love writing, I am good at writing and it’s time to show it respect and appreciation by getting myself in the right headspace. I want my writing projects to energise me, thus adding spoons to my drawer. Time to get honing that steel!
To be honest, this hasn’t been a massive self awareness event for me. My very patient and observant partner Dominic has been nudging me in this direction and showing me where I’m wasting energy and worrying over things I can do nothing about. More importantly, you are never wasting time doing nothing. You are regrouping, re-energising and adding spoons to that drawer! So thank you Dominic and the evidence it is working will be more articles and projects from me!