Be Less Anxious and Overwhelmed: Celebrate Accomplishments
It can be quite easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed by life. Days are hectic, to-do lists are full, and we're just plain busy. This unrelenting busyness is overwhelming and can cause anxiety. Regain control of yourself and your life the fun way: by celebrating little accomplishments every day.
Symptoms of Being Anxious and Overwhelmed
Typically, we know when we're anxious and overwhelmed. We feel it throughout our entire being, and our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are affected by this anxiety. When we run out of paper before we add everything to our to-do lists, we can feel drained and heavy before we even begin our tasks.
Some symptoms of being anxious and overwhelmed include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing thoughts and overthinking everything
- All-or-nothing thinking
- Catastrophizing/making things seem bigger and more daunting than they are
- Being keyed-up/on edge and simultaneously exhausted (tired but wired)
- Gastrointestinal problems (How Gut Health Affects Mental Health)
- Muscle tension
To Be Anxious and Overwhelmed Is to Be Trapped
Life is often frenzied. We can become stuck in a cycle of busyness. We are pulled in multiple directions with many different things to do. As a result, we feel overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can cause us to experience high anxiety, and we begin to feel out of control. Because we feel out of control, we think we can't stop, rest, or take breaks. This, of course, increases that feeling of being overwhelmed, and our anxiety skyrockets.
When we become trapped in this cycle of busyness, it seems that our anxiety is constantly in high gear and simply won't go down. It's tempting to think that as soon as we finish one big task our anxiety will decrease. Unfortunately, that usually doesn't happen. We finish something, more things are lined up to take its place. No wonder it can seem like we live in a state of constant anxiety. Shifting our perspective on our task completion can significantly reduce anxiety.
Be Less Anxious and Overwhelmed by Celebrating Accomplishments
Remaining caught in the cycle of busyness, anxiety, and being overwhelmed is wearing and can damage mental health and wellbeing. Break the cycle and have fun doing it by celebrating what you've accomplished rather than ruminating over what you haven't.
Celebrating accomplishments means shifting your focus and changing how you think about the tasks ahead of you. When we only focus on what we haven't done, we lose sight of the fact that we are, indeed, accomplishing things. This perpetuates anxiety.
While it's unrealistic to ignore those things which we must do; it is very realistic to pay attention to what we are accomplishing. Break your task list into manageable chunks and when you accomplish a chunk, take a little bit of time to celebrate. When you return to your tasks, you'll be rejuvenated, less anxious and overwhelmed, and more productive.
Celebrate is an action verb. Make a pleasant ritual of victory. Celebrate small accomplishments daily. Perhaps enjoy a cup of tea. Take a walk around the block. Give yourself 10 minutes to read. Choose a little something that brings you happiness and peace to celebrate your accomplishments before diving back into your task list.
Making the celebrations small, simple, and pleasurable will decrease anxiety by shifting your focus from what isn't done to what you have already done. Then, rather than feeling beaten down, anxious, and overwhelmed, you'll feel energized and less anxious because you've taken just a little bit of time to celebrate accomplishments.
Peterson, T. (2016, January 7). Be Less Anxious and Overwhelmed: Celebrate Accomplishments, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/01/be-less-anxious-and-overwhelmed-celebrate-accomplishments
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Very helpful. Thank you Tanya. I get mostly overwhelmed by emotions. I can easily deal with busyness but not with emotions
You have a great point. We all get overwhelmed, but everyone finds different things overwhelming. And I think that emotions are key in this. I think that for me, busyness alone is fine. It begins to feel overwhelming when my emotions seep into it. I think really noticing what is going on inside of ourselves and around us can help get to the bottom of being overwhelmed so we can fix it -- and celebrate what is going well. Thank you for your insight!
My days are not busy. I am on no one's schedule but my own. I make as few appointments for myself as possible, generally only two per month, one to see my doctor and the other to get my hair cut. My husband drives me to both appointments. My hairstylist always schedules my appointment when there is only one other stylist in the salon so I have as little contact as possible with anyone else. I am completely overwhelmed with anxiety the majority of the time and get relief only when I take my anti-anxiety medication.
I don't think about what I have or have not accomplished...
I don't celebrate my situation...
I know there are many who believe that the mind is stronger than the anxiety and that with enough CBT and mind training that anxiety can br brought under control. Well, I've been doing this for 30 years and I have had enough CBT programs, seminars, and friend/phone programs to fill over 25 journals with, to no avail. I have chronic anxiety.
Definitely -- anxiety isn't always caused by being stressed and overwhelmed. While CBT is helpful, as you know it does have its limitations. Chronic anxiety is a very frustrating thing (and I'm sure you have many words for it other than frustrating!) Have you ever explored the idea of what makes you feel passion and purpose? Frequently, finding what makes you happy (core contentment rather than fleeting superficial happiness) and doing more of it gradually begins to overpower and reduce anxiety. Helpful questions come from solution-focused therapy: imagine that suddenly a miracle happened and you found yourself free from anxiety; how would you know; what would be different; what would life be like for you? These concepts often help people define what they really want and make a plan to get it; this shift away from just wanting to end anxiety (which is a realistic desire!) can help reduce anxiety. Just a little food for thought. Hang in here -- you've been working at this for 30 years and have a lot invested. Don't give in now!