The arbitrary to-do list

I started to feel anxious this week. I should’ve known it was coming because I often subconsciously try to load myself up with tasks and a to-do list before it hits. I think my mind tries to keep control, while my body begs me to relax.

I was charging through my list today when it really hit. I laid down for a second overcome with the thought that I was wasting time even laying there. When it started to pass I realized how unnecessary that concern was. I would get this blog post up, even with a 10 minute break to relax. I was mad at myself for not working out even though Wednesdays are always my rest days. I told myself it was nice out so I had to take advantage of it and add on another workout.

I think a lot of us resort to this unhealthy coping mechanism. We try to load ourselves up with tasks to ignore our own thoughts. You’ve probably never missed a work deadline in your life, yet still feel you have to meet these unnecessary deadlines in your personal life. It will all get done- even with a break to take care of your mind.

Here are three questions I try to ask myself when I start to get anxious:

  1. What are things I have to accomplish and what are things I only wrote down to fill up the last spot on my checklist?
    • Work deadlines- yeah you should definitely still get those done. Organizing both the refrigerator and the pantry in one day (me today), probably not necessary. Space it out and use it as a break throughout your week.
  2. What does my mind need for 10 minutes uninterrupted?
    • Sometimes it’s silence. I need to close my eyes and just zone out for a second. Other times it’s to listen to a great song and just get lost in the music. Do whatever works for you.
  3. How am I going to relax tonight?
    • This moment of anxiety shows me that I need to give myself a break. You might not even realize how hard you are on yourself until your body gives you no choice but to recognize it. After you accomplish what you need to (because you will), give yourself a night off. Drink some tea, watch a funny movie, and put away the checklist for a few hours.

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”– Mark Black

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