Tip #130: Create an activity jar.
The Why: I know what you’re thinking dear reader – “what is this person’s obsession with jars?”
I know it’s a pretty hipster trend to put everything in jars, but I’m alas not that cool.
I’ll tell you the real reason:
Jars are a great cheap, creative and easy way to keep track of the things important to you, and often provide a visual cue to remind you to do the taking-care-of-yourself activities.
Sorry, the amount of times I’ve said ‘jar’ is rather jarring. As was that pun.
But, hear me out.
When you have anxiety, sometimes even doing the smallest thing can seem like climbing a mountain, or air-swimming into space, or digging your way to the Earth’s core.
Essentially, very difficult.
Yet, the best way to overcome anxiety is no matter how hard or awful or scary it is, to do the thing.
It seems counter-intuitive at first I know, me telling someone who has a fear-disorder to go and do things that scare them, but trust me, I’ve been there, and it works.
But, like everything, you need to know your limits. Pushing boundaries is always good, it’s how progress happens, but everyone has an absolute limit that crossing can do more harm than good.
So, what’s the solution? How do you do the scary things, but also take care of yourself?
By starting an activity jar.
What you’ll need are: a bunch of ice lolly sticks with no ice lolly on them (eating all the ice lolly’s off them is part of the fun), a jar, and some coloured pens.
The next step is to write down a list of 25 activities or challenges ranging from very scary to the mild and mundane.
For instance, a few examples could be: going to a house party (very scary), going outside for a walk (mild), telling someone how you feel (very scary), going to a museum (mild), speaking in class (very scary).
But remember, things range in scariness for different types of anxiety and different people, so don’t feel bad if going for a walk is too much for you, but house parties aren’t.
Once you have your list, put them into three different categories: Very scary, Mild, Mundane. Then, assign those three categories three different colours of your choice. For instance, red, orange, yellow.
Then, assign those three categories three different colours of your choice. For instance: Red, Orange, Yellow.
Once you have completed these initial steps, write down with a black pen the activities on the lolly sticks. So, if speaking in class is very scary, write it down on an ice-lolly stick, then colour the tip of the stick in Red, or whatever colour you chose for ‘Very Scary’. This means you can easily identify it.
Follow this pattern for all 25 activities or challenges.
Once you have them all written out and coloured, place them in the jar coloured tip upwards.
This method is ideal because it means you can think about how you’re feeling before choosing an activity or challenge. If you’re having a bad week, perhaps go for a Mundane, but if you’re feeling awesome, go for a Very Scary.
Here is my challenge to you: try to do at least one thing from the jar every. single. week.
You could do more if you like, but at least one.
It’s important to keep doing the scary things, and slowly but surely over time, you’ll realise that “hey, I can actually do quite a lot” and the world suddenly feels a lot less small.
The jar is also a great way of showing you your progress. Seeing it slowly empty means you can look back and think “I’ve actually done quite a lot, I’m really defeating it!”
The more we do the things that we fear, the more we realise that our anxiety is lying to us, the more we realise how great and wonderful the world can be, the more we realise that we are far stronger than we ever imagined.
- Buy a jar and ice lolly sticks.
- Write down and categorise different activities and challenges into three categories.
- Colour-code those categories.
- Write down the activities and challenges onto the ice lolly sticks.
- Colour-code the ice lolly sticks.
- Pick one (or more) out a week.
- Do the scary thing.
- Feel awesome!