Following on from this post (a bit of chat about all the current digital anxiety) I thought I’d outline the things I’m doing at the moment to keep anxiety, in all its various online and offline forms, at bay…
PLAY A WORD GAME
I think us adults – and I say that in the loosest sense of the word 😉 – and, in particular, those of us working in the world of digital, let loose in the world of social media and apps are very guilty of taking it all terribly seriously. Which of course, if it’s your business and how you’re making an income these days, makes sense. But I remember the days when Instagram was fun and only fun, whereas now (ok, ignore the genuine excitement incurred by new Instagram stickers!) it can feel a bit of a toil – gotta get that great image edited perfectly, posted with killer caption and liked/commented on enough to stave off the now ever-encroaching algorithm arrows and associated angst. And think of all the apps we use that tie into this and our digital lives.
What about the ones that are just fun? You know, that engage you in a positive way, get your mind working, bring out a healthy competitive edge and after absorbing you away from all the sobering digital angst remind you that it’s brilliant to feel mentally challenged, fun to have an ongoing game that you’re cracking and hey, oh wait, you totally forgot about Instagram (or insert social media platform as appropriate!).
My recent discovery thorough a fab pal is Qiktionary (download free at Apple/Android), a wonderfully challenging word game that makes your lazy brain take leaps and jumps rather than go through the repetitive moves of editing your latest photo. Created by ex-Freud Communciations Creative Director Alex Johnston, you basically have to guess the word. You jump straight in with ‘PEAR’ for example and you are told how many letters you have right and you go from there. As you go, you can start ruling letters in and out with green and red marks, until you finally crack it.
Let me warn you, it is not easy! It took me a couple of days before I started getting the words under par – on the easy level! My word game obsessed husband – who got so into it he ended up playing it though the night on day one – commented passionately on the beauty of the logic of the game. One of those things for when you’re feeling at a loss at what to do in a queue or on the tube and want time to whizz by. Or just sitting down for some time out with a cuppa…
READ A BOOK
I was such a bookworm as a child, through my slightly rebellious teens not so much, but back at it big time by the time I got to uni. I guess the point of getting stuck into a story, whole other worlds, connecting with characters that come alive to you is similar to what I was trying to say about with the word game above. Anxiety is something that can be temporarily put to one side when you get fully absorbed in something else. And books for me have always been so wonderfully real – to the point I would wake up thinking I was a character as a child, ahem! But you learn, you stretch you mind, you gain perspective and insight from reading and all of this helps you fight off niggling little insecurities and annoyances that can plague you when you have nothing else on your mind. In the moment you can just rest yourself from the monkey brain and give yourself over to something else entirely.
A recent discovery for me is GoodReads. I have slightly niche reading habits, I love science fiction, fantasy and good YA and have discovered so many incredible titles through this app, going by all the brilliant (ranging from insightful and impassioned to the downright bonkers with a whole host of hilarious memes thrown in; way to while away some time I can tell you!) reviews by the very, very many book bloggers out there (a whole other world I need to explore!). If however, you like the idea of reading with a group working towards a discussion then joining a book club might be the thing – Poppy’s is super popular and Lucy has one in the works I think. In all honestly I think I’m just a little too off piste in my reading habits to successfully take part in one – I’m after very specific books and devour rapidly and then immediately reach for the next one – but I know that they really do work for some and it’s a lovely group experience too.
START BULLET JOURNALING
If you’re anything like me you might still keep a diary (I’ve a suitcase filled with them dating back to my teens!) where I regularly (and still do, if not as regularly) offload my woes and inner feelings, or excitedly fill in my life’s latest twists and turns, hopes and dreams – so good for working through emotions and how you really feel about something. Additionally on a more practical note, I’m a daily to-do list writer; my page consists of two columns – what needs to be done for work, in order of priority and a secondary list which is various errands and reminders.
Which is where bullet journaling comes in. Combining writing a diary with to-do lists, it seems to have amassed a rather large following (just see #bujo on Instagram) creating beautifully illustrated bullet journals filled with whatever the creator wishes. There’s an initial framework; symbols representing tasks, events, tasks carried over etc (read about this in detail here) but I think overall the idea is you just go where you want to with it – if you want to chart your daily run and distance or spending habits and devote a whole section to it, with various notes and illustrations, then do it.
While my to-do lists are what makes my working day run smoothly, I thought a weekly bullet journal might be a nice (and manageable!) addition where I add in other life themes. My first attempt is nothing more than my usual messy scrawl and some painfully indulgent use of highlighters but actually I love it!
It’s a form of life maintenance; showing yourself you care. Often anxiety can lead us down roads of self-neglect without us even realising it (we stop exercising or bothering to make nice, healthy food or ignore sleep hygiene – yes, that is a thing now btw!). By tending your immediate life needs and goals you are attributing it and yourself importance, boosting self-esteem and thus putting yourself in a better position to maintain perspective and stave off anxiety, which usually, in my experience, is based on getting things way out of perspective and attributing them way too much airtime. Who’s got time for that when you’ve got a bullet journal to maintain, huh?
So the big thing about bullet journaling seems to be how pretty it can look, fab if you’ve got great handwriting or good illustrating skills – me, not so much… But the other thing is the notebook fetish (something I do have!) – aficionados seem to use dotted pages only, the like of which you can get via the preferred Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks, or as luck would have it, a dotted Nuuna notebook – one of which I had stashed away in my collection of notebooks drawer. See, knew there was a reason I collected empty notebooks…!
Anyway, these are things that work for me, would love to know what you do that helps – let me know in the comments below!
This post created in collaboration with Qiktionary. All words & opinions my own, as ever!