Georgia Shaffer from Pennsylvania
One coaching client emailed me, saying, “Every time I sit down to write, I’m flooded with anxious thoughts. The voices in my head shout that I can’t write and nobody wants to read what I have to say. How do I deal with all this anxiety?”
In highly motivated people like this woman, I’ve found it is often anxiety that interferes with our creativity and ability to focus. Obviously not all anxiety is detrimental to writing. These feelings can motivate us to take action. But constant anxiety can lead to moodiness, writer’s block, headaches and even insomnia when our brains don’t shut down at night.
You can help yourself resolve some of the anxiety by first asking yourself multiple questions. Could I be trying to do too much? Is this just a difficult challenging time? Do I need to put this writing project on the back burner? Do I need more sleep? Or am I only anxious when I write?
I knew this particular client had been gradually trying to write later and later into the night. Her most productive hours, however, were in the morning. Working longer at night allowed her little time to relax. Since she went to bed, still tense, she had problems falling asleep. The next morning she felt sluggish and had difficulty concentrating.
For her, the solution was to move away from her computer earlier in the evening, allowing more time to wind down at night before she tried to go to sleep. She found she slept better and had more energy to confront the negative thoughts that haunted her. As a result her writing dramatically improved.
Here are a few more tips you can use to overcome your anxiety and improve productivity.
1. Learn to Unclutter Your Mind
A cluttered mind is an anxious mind. An uncluttered mind has room to hear God’s voice and experience his presence. Like Martha, in Luke’s Gospel, our minds can be filled with all kinds of demands and deadlines. Like Mary, we need to make the choice to clear out the junk and make space for our Lord and his wisdom, peace, and love.
2. Seek Peace through Prayer
In Philippians 4:6-7 NLT, Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Make a list telling God exactly what you need. Then make another list of things God has done for which you are grateful. Give God both lists, after that rest and trust in him to be with you and guide you as you write.
3. Stay Connected
Being connected to people who will encourage you is critical in managing toxic worry. Whether you talk to a coach, a loved one or caring friend, you will feel better verbalizing your writing frustrations and concerns to a good listener rather than stewing over them alone.
4. Let Go of Your Agenda
A desire to control your life and make things happen according to your timetable leads to more tension, stress, and exhaustion. Instead of holding tightly to your agenda, choose to surrender it all to God.
5. Rest, Eat Well and Exercise
If every little thing overwhelms you, then it’s always time for some rest and good nutrition. It’s amazing how much smaller your problems appear after a satisfying meal and a good night’s sleep. (See 1 Kings 19:1-9.) Any activity requiring physical exertion–lifting weights, jogging, cleaning the house, and digging in the dirt–can release endorphins and reduce anxiety.
If anxiety is a problem in your writing, be willing to try these different tips and discover what method works best for you. Be intentional and confront your worries so that you avoid getting ambushed by anxiety.
About Georgia Shaffer
Georgia is an author, Christian life coach, and licensed Psychologist in Pennsylvania. Her books include Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make; Taking Out Your Emotional Trash; and12 Smart Choices for Finding The Right Guy. For more information on Georgia or on her coaching of authors and speakers, visit www.GeorgiaShaffer.com