To-do lists are how I survive. I use to-do lists for work, blogging, wedding planning, working through ideas, literally everything. At anytime my list is organized, broken a part by tasks, and usually long. And, when I have bad days, which everyone does, whether it is from anxiety, depression, or just a classic bad day, the list can be overwhelming.
Many of you know I went through quite a rough patch this past winter in dealing with my PTSD, anxiety, and depression. On top of trying to take care of my health, my to do list seemed to be piling on. Every time I looked at or added to my to do list it increased my stress and, quite honestly, made me feel bad about myself.
That is not a normal feeling for me with my to-do lists. Usually, they make me feel motivated and take a weight off of my shoulders because all of those lists aren’t banging around in my head. The I did list is the exact opposite of a to-do list. As you do things throughout the day you write things down. On my worst days, a productive day could include: getting out of bed, changing out of my pajamas, and brushing my teeth.
As I got better I added in activities, making a meal, walking Luna, going to play in one of my volleyball matches, having a girls night with friends. Slowly, my days built and built until I was able to handle tackling my to do list once again. By building an I did list every day as I was going, I was able to bring myself back into my normal lifestyle without getting crazy overwhelmed.
In theory a to-do list is not in itself overwhelming, but not getting tasks on the to-do list done does tend to push my anxiety higher than usual. When my anxiety is already high, that stress can take me from having a bad day to not being able to function. Sometimes minimizing even the smallest stresses can make the difference in the quality of your day.
The key to the I did list is to recognize and appreciate that sometimes the smallest actions mean the most. On your worst day, maybe getting up and brushing your teeth is an accomplishment. Taking it step by step can take what seems to be an overwhelming day and break it into doable pieces. Remember, reward yourself for the small accomplishments, and definitely the big ones, however they fit into your life.