Whether you live according to your personal planner or organize your activities using Google calendar, most adults are on a schedule of some sort. Insert kids into the mix, and it’s next to impossible not to plot out your days and weeks around sports practices, dentist appointments, and work-related deadlines. But what happens when you no longer control your schedule, but it begins to control you?
As someone who has dealt with generalized anxiety disorder for all of my adult life, I’m no stranger to the “fight or flight” feeling. I’ve had panic attacks in nearly every shopping center I’ve ever visited, I have a horrible time making decisions, and I spend much of my free time second guessing every move I make. It’s exhausting, and anyone who has experienced any of these situations knows how emotionally taxing anxiety can be on the body and the mind.
Throughout the past month or so, I began to notice my anxiety becoming lot worse. Though still manageable, more of my day was consumed by anxious thoughts, and I had trouble sleeping and a harder time letting the small stuff go. Even though my position was fairly flexible and office life was laid back, I still felt like I was trying to juggle fireballs, all of which kept falling on my face. My work/life balance felt completely out of whack, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t being a stellar employee or a mom, because I spent all of my time in one role worrying about the other.
I knew in my heart that a change needed to be made. In my case, it meant leaving my 8-5 job with a steady paycheck to balance all other aspects of my life. I knew I needed more control. I needed more time throughout the day. Not necessarily fewer commitments, just less of the stress that came with my current set of responsibilities. As soon as I took the plunge, I had an astonishing revelation. So much of my anxiety was coming from constantly feeling rushed on a daily basis. I’d dash out of the office at 5 p.m. sharp every day to pick up my son on time, and a wave of anxious thoughts about incomplete errands, meal preparation, and bedtime routines would take over my mind. I was an incurable patient suffering from the “hurry sickness.” By the time I finally got home, I was too agitated, dizzy, or nauseated to do much of anything. I felt like I was trapped in a constant fog. It diminished what little patience I had to begin with, and frankly, my relationship with my son suffered greatly.
Scrapping the Schedule
When I made the choice to modify my life and dedicate more time to doing less, it was as though my anxiety realized it wasn’t going to get the best of me. I felt like I had won the first battle necessary to overcoming the war.
In an effort to my keep panic attacks at bay, I’m working on training my mind to resist the urge to live by a schedule. More importantly, I’m learning that not everything needs to be done at once. This week, I made a huge step towards progress by creating a grocery list and NOT going to the store until the next day. To most people, this sounds silly, but I’m wired to believe everything must be done the moment it becomes an idea. I’m as compulsive as they come, and living life according to a schedule is the quickest way for me to dive off the deep end.
So … What’s Next?
One of the beautiful things about being a writer is that the possibilities to make ends meet simply are countless. I’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit and am driven to succeed when able to set my own limits, my own hours, and my own pace. I get fired up about actively seeking new opportunities and learning new skills to better myself as a writer, a marketer, and a business owner.
And, as a mother and a wife, living unscheduled has given me more time and a clearer appreciation of the little things I’ve either taken for granted, or completely ignored in the past. Slowing down and enjoying life without a race against the clock has given me a sense of freedom and calmness that I’ve been missing for far too long.
Now, this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. A lot of people require processes to feel calm and balanced. Some of my dearest friends need that sense of order in their lives to get things done. Finding a balance in your life doesn’t mean you must live one way or another. It’s all about knowing when it’s time to adjust.
What steps have you taken to find a balance? Sound off in the comments below!