Breathe: Getting a Handle On Your Monday Morning Anxiety

anxious thoughts

In the past, I’ve shared that I actually like Mondays. It’s the start of my work week, so I like the idea of a fresh start; the excitement of the week before me is full of hope, and with it, the chance to do better, learn new things, make progress, and grow. 

I wish that’s where I could finish my thoughts about Monday but there’s a flip side to this. Because I also struggle with anxiety, the proceeding thoughts surrounding the idea of being overwhelmed and incapable, often paralyze me to the point of robotic automation which hinders my creative energy, and therefore deters my more natural productivity flow. What I mean is, unless it’s a default habit or a patterned task, I end up analyzing the mess out of stuff. I want to know how stuff works, where there’s connections, how to do something without making mistakes, picking apart and putting back together… (I may have been an engineer in my previous life.) While there is a time for analyzing, too much of it has gotten me stuck in the muck.  

When I became of aware of my tendency to self-sabotage, I was determined to turn it on its head and find the gifts and strength in my personalty traits.

Ease into the day

So, I start by easing into my day with an intentional habit of a morning practice. Yes, it does mean waking up earlier. But your morning practice is determined by you and what works best for mental health and sanity. I know I need breakfast, and I need to journal my thoughts and dreams. It’s something I’ve learned about myself over the years. As I’ve mentioned, my thoughts are all over the place and if I do my version of morning pages, I tend to calm some of the worries by writing them out. By reviewing previous journal entries, I also have proof that I was able to overcome perceived obstacles that at the time I didn’t think I would be able to. 

Write a brain dump list

I pray to my Higher Power and then proceed to write a list of things I’d like to get done for the week. I reference my Life in a Notebook monthly goals and projects. This helps me focus on what’s before me rather than the possibilities of everything that my imagination conjures that causes me fear and paralyzation. If I’m coming into my day grounded, I have less of a chance freaking out about the bajillion emails in my multiple inboxes, the to-do lists I left off on from last week, the new set of meetings I need to have and schedule and the countless follow ups I need to do for myself and my clients. 

Start with small quick wins

The next thing I do is take advantage of my “robot mode”. I always feel better if something is literally crossed off my list. Meaning, I am an old school notepad and pen person. I need to literally write down my to-do list and have the gratification of checking things off. As I explained, robot mode is about default habits and tasks I can do without a 2nd thought (no over analyzing). So, I start with something that is a quick and easy win. Email is usually not a quick and easy win. So, I don’t start with it. If you know that checking that inbox first and opening that one email  (you know the one) will mess your head up for the entire morning, it’s best you work on a few other things first. I’ve found that a lot of people in Western societies operate as if everything about their life is an emergency, and therefore in a sense of trying to have gain control, they will both intentionally and unintentional pull you into their chaos and call it being results oriented. I call it fanning flames. Beware of the raging fire that comes later on! 

Prioritize your tasks

If you want to get things done and still be in integrity with yourself, prioritizing is something you work towards doing and doing as well as possible. There are plenty of great methods for prioritizing, my training at AssistU introduced me to the Eisenhower method. I sucked at it and concluded that I sucked at prioritizing. It wasn’t until I worked one-on-one with my coach that I discovered I mentally prioritize so quickly and instinctually that I didn’t ever realize I had a method to my madness. Now, I’m trying to train myself to slow down enough so I can actually capture and document how I do what I do, so I can optimize my energy and time. Not for the sake of perfection, but for the sake of my peace of mind. I need to prioritize my mental health recovery work and leisurely reading time just as much as I need to prioritize my work habits.

Mindful Expectations

Finally, I readjust my expectations. Things change. I change. Mindful awareness of my personal standards, values and boundaries helps me honor that. In a practical and tangible way, I add and subtract items from my brain dump for the week. I take away items that I compete as well as the items that I know good and full well that I won’t make any effort to complete…due circumstances such as illness or loss of internet from bad weather conditions for instance. I started the new year with the flu so guess where my plans to go out in-person networking went? Trash! As far as adding things, I end up writing down what I tend to forget which are usually micro-movements; the small things that build on the momentum it takes to get a thing done. For instance a micro-movement could be how you organize and keep track of a task. Say for example I complete a task to “follow up with Maya” now my micro-movement is that I need to write a note in my CRM. If I don’t write said note, I won’t remember our conversation or if it ever happened, I will forget about the next steps we agreed upon, and the point of the follow up will be mute. 

By slowing down to breathe, prioritize, and readjust I stand a better chance at not running in to a burning building expecting to put out fires with my hope and determination. My hope instead, is my motivation, and my determination is outlined in my concerted and judicious efforts that ask me to tap into tools and plans that emphasize what is working for me and what is not. The more I know about myself, the more I know how to be proactive about managing my mental health. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

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