Brain on Anxiety Time Travels

Have you ever felt like you lose track of time?

Let me tell you a story…

About a week ago, I discovered that I did something strange whenever I felt anxious or overwhelmed.

I skipped time.

Whenever I was worried, I felt like the event I dreaded in the future was going to happen THIS SECOND. I experienced a lapse in time that would place me in the future instantly, where I would experience the horrible thing I dreaded, when it hadn’t even happened yet. And might not ever happen.

I have a similar feeling when I feel overwhelmed. I lose my perception of time and suddenly this great big giant project before me is due THIS SECOND, and oh my God, how am I ever going to get it all done in time?

What I always seem to not realize is that there is a whole stretch of time running from Event A (where I am in this moment in time) to Event B (what I fear happening). My mind completely erases that track of time—minutes, hours, months—so that Event B is right in front of me. I’m immediately face-to-face with what I fear the second I think of it. And I become completely paralyzed so that I can do nothing but sit and stew in my worries.

But once I realized the mystery behind my irrational behavior, I was ecstatic. As they say, ‘understanding the problem is half the solution’. So asked myself, how can I stop it from happening?

Why, by doing the exact opposite of my natural reaction, of course.

A (Somewhat) Happy Ending

Now whenever I’m anxious, I’ve gotten into the habit of questioning why. If I fear that an inevitably stressful event is coming down the pipeline, I tell myself, “It hasn’t happened yet. It will take time. Everything takes time to occur. Meaning, just as that dreadful thing will have the time to get to you, you have the time to do something about it now.”

For my overwhelmed self when I think a gigantic project is due this second: “Are you forgetting that this is something that cannot to be finished instantly (as nothing can)? It’s a large project. Meaning it’s going to take time and work. More importantly, it’s going to take work that is going to take up a lot of time. Stop focusing on getting it done, and focus instead working on it (and doing as much as you can within the block of time you have).”

Does this work all the time? More often than not. 😉

Moral of the Story

For all you kids out there: question everything your mind thinks of…especially when you think you’re time traveling.

Serious Take-Away Though:

When you’re anxious, remind yourself that everything takes time to happen. That means, while it’s taking its time to get to you, you have the time to work on fixing it or preparing to meet it head on.

When you’re overwhelmed, remind yourself that what you’re trying to take on/do, will take a lot of work and it will take weeks, months, maybe even years to get to the finished product. Allotting you that much time to work on it and to see if you can get it to how you imagined it.

As always, best of luck!

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