Worry is an obsessive series of thoughts that needs to be diverted. Stress is a body thing that needs to be purged like bad sushi. But you can’t just think your way out of Anxiety. You need distractions that have a physical component. The New York Times suggests listening to music, skipping rope or rubbing velcro.
I have another remedy.
I open my sketchbook, uncap my pen.
Drawing is a mental and a physical activity.
It drags me off the obsessive carousel of worry and puts me into physical action. It breaks the spell and gives me a job.
Drawing diverts and slows down my overstimulated imagination and it anchors me in the Now. The Taser effects of stress start to wash out of my system. Adrenaline and cortisol get filtered away. My heart slows. My breathing normalizes. I get perspective on what I’m drawing and on what is roiling my mind.
I’ve found sketching to be very helpful, in exactly the way he describes.
Even more helpful that that are the words of Mark Rice-Oxley in The Guardian:
The most annoying question news anchors ask their correspondents is: “How worried should we be?” Not just because worry is hard to quantify (“er, very”?); not just because it’s a leading question.
But because the answer should always be: “We shouldn’t worry at all. Worry is pointless. There is bound to be something better that we can do.”
Indeed, psychotherapists might go on to say that if we are eaten up with worry, we should ask ourselves about the worrisome thoughts we are having: are they actually true? And are they helpful to us? If the answer to either is no, then worry is not serving us well.
It’s perhaps naive to simply say that we shouldn’t worry because worrying isn’t helpful: it were only that easy.
But I’ve found it uncommonly useful regardless.