To help reduce anxiety after my panic attack, I’m learning how to calm the fuck down at weekends. Easier said than done. I’m guilty of being a tad ambitious with weekend plans. Quantity is quality in my eyes.
Most weekends are spent rushing from one activity to another. Forget sitting down and relaxing with a cup of tea. PAH! Every single spare moment is dedicated to doing something.
There is a slightly satisfying feeling of ticking things off my to-do list, but shit me, I’m tired. I guess I’ve turned it into a bit of a race, trying to cram in as many accomplishments as I can. The start gun goes off at 5pm on a Friday and we cross the finish line, exhausted at 10pm on a Sunday.
It means that I’m definitely guilty of not being present in the moment. Forget enjoying what I’m doing there and then with Sprog and Husband. No. I’m far too busy working out the logistics for the next task/activity/chore. Or even getting embroiled in something that really shouldn’t be done at a weekend!
Take cleaning for example, it’s a huge weekend sore spot for me. When husband is home at the weekend, it’s nice for him to watch Sprog, while I do a spot of therapeutic spring cleaning.
So I start cleaning the kitchen sink, then spot that the microwave is a bit dirty. While scrubbing the microwave (which, by the way is actually pretty clean) I spot the cupboard handles are grimy. Five hours later and there I am still cleaning, mopping the kitchen floor.
Yes, by the end of it I’ve got a sparkly clean kitchen, but so what. Those hours could have better been spent with my family, engrossed in watching Sprog gumming his carrot stick. STUFF THE KITCHEN, it can be kept clean enough while Sprog sleeps.
It took being forced to rest for an entire weekend due to illness, watching my husband doing all the tasks I thought were so important. Just watching him rush around like a blue-arsed fly left me feeling exhausted.
He was so caught up in all the tasks that he wasn’t really with it. He was doing rather than being, going through the motions like a brainless zombie.
As my GP pointed out, it’s counter productive. It’s as if I’m wishing my life away. Rather than being engaged in the moment, I’m already on to the next thing.
My GP also dispensed a nugget of wisdom, sharing that the reason cats and dogs are so content is that they’re not thinking about what happened yesterday, what they’re planning to do tomorrow, but just being in the moment.
I know it’s very easy to say, that slowing down and being present in the moment is the magic cure for my anxiety. It isn’t. I struggle, because I’m scared that slowing down will leave me with my thoughts and that’s petrifying. A mind that’s not buzzing away, constantly thinking is a frightening prospect.
BUT, I have tried slowing down in my own way and it seems to be working. I’ll never be one to have a lay-in, that’s just not me, but the following is my happy medium at the moment;
- Doing fewer activities. I’m realistic with the amount of family activities we can do over a weekend. Rather than 3 a day, I prioritise. If we can get a long walk, a swim and a food shop (yes, we LOVE this part of the weekend!) then I’m happy
- Enjoying unexpected free time. Usually, if I have a random 5 spare minutes it would be taken up with washing, ironing or general tidying. Admitting that every moment does not need to be accounted for and that it’s okay to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea has been a revelation!
- Family down time. Along a similar vein. Enforced time to just be with my family rather than be doing something. We’ve started going for coffee in town so we’re not sat in the house with me looking at everything that needs doing.
- Knowing what makes me happy. If a bit of dusting makes me happy, then I’ll do it. But what I won’t do is turn it into a cleaning marathon.
This is a long process and I’m just at the beginning of my journey, but I already feel more relaxed and less anxious. Doing less and doing them better, sounds simple enough, but it’s going to be hard to not get carried away again!