Editor’s note: This is just one woman’s account of dealing with anxiety and the methods she uses will not be applicable to everyone’s circumstances.
My chest tightens, my breathing quickens and my stomach churns.
My anxiety looks me straight in the eye and tells me that I’m not ENOUGH and I don’t have ENOUGH. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough ideas, resources, life experiences.
It tells me to panic, to go around and around in circles ruminating on the things I should have done differently, and all the things I need to do RIGHT NOW to make up for it.
Usually when anxiety strikes, I try to do as much as I can. I scroll through my Instagram feed while I watch TV, I listen to podcasts incessantly, hoping the voices of my favourite hosts will drown out my own thoughts. I clean, I organise my wardrobe into categories - anything I can do to distract myself from my own impending doom.
A few weeks ago when my anxiety was particularly bad - I decided to try a different tact.
I did NOTHING. Instead of clutching at straws to keep my mind busy - I turned off my phone and my TV, I ignored my burgeoning dirty washing pile - and I did NOTHING.
I lit a candle, put on some easy listening for the over 30s and I deliberating did nothing for hours.
At first it was uncomfortable and awkward - and I desperately wanted to reach for my phone. But then I started to settle into the nothingness, and it was really comforting.
After a few hours of doing nothing, I felt remarkably calm. I felt like the anxiety had loosened it's strangle hold on me - at least a little bit.
For me, the feeling of not having enough time plays a huge role in my anxiety, and strangely, I think making time to do nothing, actually helped me feel like I had more time.
Is our constant quest for happiness making us sad? Post continues...
Of course, lying around doing nothing isn't a luxury most people have, and it's not very often I can carve out a few hours of total idleness - but I've tried to implement that practice of doing nothing into my daily life.
When I get home after work, I try to spend 10-20 minutes of just sitting and doing nothing before I start my nightly routine of cooking dinner, feeding the my dog, doing my washing, and so on.
On my days off, I try to spend at least an hour, embracing the art of doing sweet f**k all.
And honestly it's helped. After each little session of nothingness, it feels like a little bit of pressure has been released from my anxiety valve.
If you think you may be experiencing anxiety or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.