It's Okay to do less
It’s okay to do less and let yourself off the hook for maintaining your “usual” pace when you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression. It’s not only okay, it’s imperative.
I’ve heard from numerous clients, and experienced this myself, that getting sick with the flu or a virus is a welcomed relief because then there is actually a tangible reason to act the way you feel. Suddenly, there is permission to sleep longer, call out of work, ask for help, reach out to the doctor for a prescription, lay on the couch for hours without guilt, and cancel plans.
I want you to know that its okay to do these things without the excuse of the flu or a virus. It’s especially okay to do less and let yourself rest when you are experiencing anxiety and depression. Anxiety and Depression are natural energy drainers and make it difficult to focus and concentrate. They impact the quality of your sleep, your appetite, your focus and concentration, your ability to complete everyday tasks, your immune system weakens, and not to mention the heavy sense of guilt and worthlessness.
Despite all of these symptoms, unless we have a fever or a cough, we are expected (either by ourselves or others) to continue to perform at the same level we performed before anxiety and depression showed up. Sometimes we even push ourselves to perform harder to combat the feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
If you are currently experiencing anxiety and/or depression, the last thing you need to do is power through these symptoms and demand that you perform at your usual pace. You might be able to do it for a time, but eventually you will wear out and be even sicker because of it.
Here are five ways to do less when you are anxious or depressed:
1- Lower your expectations of yourself. “I must wake up at 5 am everyday and work out for one hour.” While staying in a routine and exercising can be helpful, what is even more helpful is letting go of rigid rules and expectations. Perhaps, you could wake up at 5:30 and do a gentle 20 minute work out instead. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
2- Accept that you are anxious and/or depressed. Stop resisting, denying, and minimizing this reality. Resistance often strengthens (worsens) whatever it is we are working so hard to ignore or prevent.
3- Let people know. Keeping your struggle with anxiety and depression private only helps to increase a sense of shame.
4- Enlist support from friends and family. If you are in a relationship, ask your partner to get more involved at home or with kids. Hire a babysitter. Sign up for Shipt or Instacart. Eliminate some of your responsibilities and allow others in to do more.
5- Seek professional help. Find a counselor or support group. Talk to your doctor about whether or not medication could be an option. Explore the possibility of using your FMLA benefit. Not sure when to seek help? Check out this post.
While anxiety and depression are not contagious, their symptoms can be just as debilitating as that of the flu or a virus. Be kind to yourself when you are not well. It’s okay to do less.