Craft For The Soul Creativity Nice Life Reminders

Things to worry about

Okay. I admit it. I am a worrier. I can’t help it. Worry me.

I also battle with anxiety on an almost daily basis. It’s a whooshing, chemical thing. An unsettling friend. Sigh.

Perhaps worry is the dark side of imagination and creativity? Maybe all those good ideas and meandering mind wanderings HAVE to stray into overthinking, what-if, holy sh*t, yikes territory? Maybe it’s just part of the deal?

Anxiety, on the other hand, is pretty much devoid of redeeming qualities and should be sequestered to a deep, dark place in a galaxy far, far away.

Where worry feels like it might be tamed with some measured thinking and various practical machinations, anxiety has a life of its own and often knows no boundaries/logic.

What I’ve learned dealing with both anxiety and worry personally is that things like exercise, hot baths, craft, stories, sleep, movies, music and friends or family help to quell the wobbliness a lot. (For me at least.)

For me, anxiety is kind of like the tiger in The Tiger Who Came To Tea. No need to fight it. Better to take a deep breath and step sideways, let it wander about, offer it a drink and watch its tail flick in and out of view.

Quite possibly it might eat all your crisps and buns and cake and tea, scaring the crap out of you in the process and requiring you to breathe into a paper bag or get under a blanket for quite some time, but eventually you’ll see the back of it and you can always make another pot of tea. Hopefully. *Attempts not to get caught up in the meta cycle of getting anxious about anxiety. #BrainSwirl*

F Scott Fitzgerald wrote a letter to his daughter Scottie when she was eleven – not so much about anxiety – but about its second-cousin WORRYING and about what truly matters. It goes a little something like this:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about: 

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about: 

What am I really aiming at? 
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to: 

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them? 
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it? 

With dearest love,

Daddy

(ViaF. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters)

 

Obviously I worry about quite a few things on this list… Mosquitoes, for instance.  And insects in general. I possibly have a lot to learn. What I do know is that a list makes me feel anchored and this one is a witty, thoughtful foundation for some pondering.

I worry about all the usual things, I think. Run of the mill, round-the-house, round-the-world type stuff. And then I am really good at making up extra worries. Things that will never happen but that play out in a gripping-yet-weirdly-entertaining way, in between my ears. With a soundtrack. And sound effects. Oof.

I’m not so special though. I am certain others feel the same, and despite the fact that these kinds of things can be a bit much to tussle with at times, I figure these twists and turns are where stories and personal growth come from… and they give us a chance to practice resilience and measure out some perspective. #perhaps

Of course, ANXIETY shouldn’t be smiled at weakly or dumbed down with sparkly optimism or cheeky lists. I’m lucky to be able to manage what goes on with me, but some peoples’ anxiety is less of a tiger who came to tea and more of a body-exiting-monster-from-Alien. Fist bumps and squeezes to those people. Hot baths and leafy walks are definitely too soft-core for them. Mosquitoes are probably not even on their radar. Palling up with an excellent health professional is (hopefully) their jam. Best idea ever. (If this sounds like you and you’re not treating that thing that makes you feel like an Alien is trying to exit your body… and you are suffering in silence, maybe this post is a sign that you should head to your GP and spill the beans?)

Me? I am mostly walking off, sipping off, breathing off or soaking off the thoughts of giant kitten-eating mosquitoes or kids accidentally caught up in gang fights or next week’s budget deficit. And remembering that breathing should not feel sharp and fizzy and wild.

And also worrying about dolls. Won’t somebody think of the dolls?

Is anxiety or worry a thing for you? And is your anxiety a tiger or a hamster or a dark cloud of freaky whoosh, would you say? Or a different kind of thing altogether?

pip signature

 

Help for anxiety sufferers:
SANE
Beyond Blue

30 Comments

  • Reply
    Bruna
    March 23, 2017 at 1:08 PM

    How can i to buy tour book Craft for the Soul?
    I’ m brasilian people. I want It.

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 24, 2017 at 7:41 PM

      Hello! It is on US Amazon still, I think! 🙂 Thank you!!! xx

  • Reply
    Anissa
    July 14, 2016 at 8:39 PM

    Oh my, it’s a thing around here. Watching my nine year old be stumped by it is SO hard. There’s so little support for the young ‘uns. We have tools but sometimes the hard times cycle around and there ain’t much to do except head for those bed covers. We homeschool and I work from home but I’m a single mama and some days are just fecking HARD. Thanks for writing so candidly about your journey, I was sitting here feeling quite isolated in our little anxiousland but now I feel better. And it didn’t involve chocolate. You’re the best. I am going to read your blog post out to the little dude in the morning. More proof that others have their dances with anxiety too and that you can create a kick ass beautiful life alongside that dance. x

  • Reply
    Little White Dove
    June 17, 2016 at 5:00 PM

    Pip I just loved this… the uninvited tiger swooshes his tail around, knocking things down and occasionally breaking things during regular visits around here … and getting anxious about anxiety is my specialty, unfortunately I’ve got better with age on that one… I used to think I was just a stresshead but somwhere along the aging line it seems to have morphed… my relief comes in similar things like craft, sleep & baths, but meditation is my most effective path to guiding the tiger back out the door… and a new one I’ve recently added is sitting on the back deck and watching the cows and sheep, the tiger seems to vanish. thanks for your beautiful words as always x

  • Reply
    Marissa Treichel
    June 17, 2016 at 4:42 PM

    Yes what a warm and reassuring post and comments.

    Well meaning friends and family often suggest I not, “think so much”. That would be lovely!

    As a kid watching The Outsiders, I looked at happy-go-lucky Sodapop and sighed, “Ah. If only.” Too young to have a Rob Lowe crush, this was the sigh of already knowing I have a really different nature to that. Damn.

    Its not easy for me to switch off, to not ask big questions or get stuck in loops of little worries. Yet a part of me would not trade it if given the chance. Maybe I also connect creativity and insight, into that worrier inside me.

  • Reply
    RebeccaHJ
    June 15, 2016 at 8:53 PM

    SUCH a good post Pip – you really have the knack of delving into big topics and making them seem better, more manageable and opening them out for discussion. I feel my worries come in storms – some days nothing, the next day – hour – everything all raining down on me at once. And then a list or a cry or a bath or a cuppa – usually ALL of those things and more. And sleep. And then it’s back to normal. I think issues of the mind need to be talked about more. I’m letting the tiger into my storm xx

  • Reply
    Wendy
    June 15, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    Initially I used to get the Alien bursting out of the stomach….these days it’s the Tiger coming to tea. Remembering to breathe helps me, as do family, friends, talking, tea, music, getting enough sleep and (lately) crocheting. Take care everyone and thanks Pip for your astonishingly wonderful post xx

  • Reply
    Kevin
    June 15, 2016 at 5:39 AM

    This is a wonderfully relaxing post in itself. I suffer from anxiety (have done for years now) and I’ve also learned to recognise it as something that will turn up, even when you least expect it, but most importantly, it will slink back out of life too if you just keep going – usually when you might least expect it too. I was on holiday a couple of months ago and got freaked out at the thought of being in a busy city centre, but by breathing steadily, taking some “time out” in a toilet cubicle and letting my partner know how I was feeling, I calmed right back down – in the middle of the upstairs section of a clothing store. There’s no worse feeling than when anxiety hits you like a bus, but the release and satisfaction of surviving it half an hour later should also be accepted and acknowledged.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    June 14, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    Me too guys! This is just what I needed this morning! It’s always good to remember (daily) that breathing should not be sharp and fizzy and wild. Otherwise it’s like being a bottle of gingerbeer that you’ve left to ferment too long and it you know it will explode when you open it, so you don’t, and the pressure just builds up and up and up. Dangerous! I’ve fallen off the daily de-fizz breathing wagon – I think I should hop back on – thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • Reply
    Gabby
    June 14, 2016 at 4:00 AM

    Well here I am, middle of the night not sleeping and reading your post because the dreaded worry monster has me in his grip! Anxiety is a nasty time-wasting monster who sucks the life out of me at times. Crochet, reading helpful stuff (particularly from you Pip) and a great psychologist has definitely kept me going, because sometimes it’s tough. Thank you!

  • Reply
    maura
    June 13, 2016 at 11:36 PM

    i totally know that feeling

  • Reply
    Amy
    June 13, 2016 at 11:23 PM

    Lovely post Pip! I’ve had a long dance with anxiety and depression over the years (two sides of the same coin!) and thanks to an amazing psychologist and a lot of self care work I’m now in a good place. It will never go away fully but I have plenty of handy tricks up my sleeve now to keep the demons at bay. One thing that has really helped lately has been Morning Pages! I gave it a go this week after reading about it in Craft for the Soul and its been brilliant. I love how cathartic it feels. Definitely a new morning routine- thanks for the tip! Keep shining your happy light around – the world needs more brightness! xxx

  • Reply
    Denyse
    June 13, 2016 at 11:03 PM

    How I appreciate your post and its honesty Pip. To know we are not alone in this world is so helpful. Anxiety is not a ‘seen’ condition but a felt one so we have no idea unless we actually know a person well if anxiety is part of their daily life challenge. For me, making 3 major life Changes in the past 18 months has triple dealt me the blow of anxiety & with it, it’s friend (not!) IBS diarrhoea. I’ve gone from a confident & social human to one who lives in anticipation & dread..BUT I am a derermined and persistent person and my lifestyle change has seen me embrace daily meditation, enjoy gardening, walk most days and the big win is my jump in creative pursuits and I’m loving art! I set myself a daily challenge to blog each day from 1 Jan 2015 and I am succeeding. On some low days & there are more high days than lows just knowing I have to do a blog post is my win for that day. I used think I had to get rid of anxiety but now I know (thanks to you various meditation and other gurus) that to accept its there and see it as a cloud passing over the blue sky .. It works – mostly! I still have my teary times & rail a bit but thanks to an amazing hub & supprtive GP & psychologist I’m ok!

  • Reply
    Angela
    June 13, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    Anxiety stinks. It never seems to hit when big problems happen, but keeps me worried and sometimes out of commision when trying to deal with the day-to-day. And I’ve gotta worry about the dolls cause they FREAK me out! Thanks for opening up about your worrying and I hope you have a great day.

  • Reply
    Claire
    June 13, 2016 at 9:53 PM

    Hi Pip
    What an excellent post. Whilst it’s pretty crappy that you experience anxiety, it’s really great that you are prepared to share your experience and help other sufferers feel less alone.
    Anxiety gives me the pips! Its annoying habit of lurking, even when things are going well, really takes the shine off life. Craft (knitting) is what I turn to when I’m feeling anxious and I loved Craft for the Soul as others have said. I felt like you were giving me some home truths about just fronting up to life each day, in the kindest possible way.
    You might like the book ‘The Anxiety Book’ by Elisa Black that was released two weeks ago. Admittedly I know the author but it is a beautiful memoir mixed with research and practical ideas to help take the beast.
    Anyway, thanks for posting and for being so real and genuine in everything you do.
    Claire
    X

  • Reply
    Nadene
    June 13, 2016 at 7:01 PM

    Thanks for your post Pip – brave of you to share a part of your soul with the world.
    I’m hearin’ ya!
    Crocheting has helped me a lot – funnily enough – as has going down to the beach and sitting and watching the waves/ water and sewing. Boy I sound like a Grandma – haha!
    Xo

  • Reply
    Lisa
    June 13, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    Many thanks for writing such a vital, heartfelt and uplifting article. It struck a chord with me – always a worrier – but have been visited by sneaky fox anxiety since being bullied at work lately. He wakes me up a 1:32am and gives me a hard time. Thanks also for ‘Craft for the Soul’ – I blitzed through it in a weekend and now am thinking about the lists etc and thoroughly enjoying all the new thoughts and ideas coming to me. Cheers Lisa

  • Reply
    Reannon
    June 13, 2016 at 3:09 PM

    It’s really very helpful to a person like me to read things like this. I am an expert worrier & between 2-5 am seems to be the time my brain amps up the worrying. I can worry so much, about things so small but seem so big, about things that may never happen, about anything & everything. Sometimes I worry so much I silently cry or my stomach hurts. It’s very frustrating being a worrier! I wish so much that my brain was carefree, that it would settle down & stop with such crazy nonsense but alas, I am not that person so I deal with it as best I can. Its nice to know I’m not alone in the worry game x

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 13, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story Pip. I’ve always been a worrier but a few years ago anxiety dropped in too, man that sucker likes to stick around. I’m learning to live with it and mostly it’s just the tiger at tea. I don’t like it and still have trouble doing what I know I need to do to care for myself. I’m scared if I don’t learn to put those needs at the top of the list the alien will take over my body and I won’t have a choice.

  • Reply
    Erin@TheMumsGroup
    June 13, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    Yes this is me. A long time worrier. Sometimes anxious mess. I know when my worries become more. I know my triggers. It still doesn’t always help that I know them, to stop it from coming on. But I am trying. It’s part of me. Sometimes I think it’s the part that makes me sensitive and caring and empathetic. Sometimes it’s a giant pain in a panic attack. Thank you for this post Pip xx

  • Reply
    Gabriella
    June 13, 2016 at 1:33 PM

    Thanks for writing such an honest and uplifting story Pip. I really enjoy reading all of your articles. I am a Naturopath working in Melbourne, and I might mention your article on an up and coming blog of mine if that is ok?

  • Reply
    Vana
    June 13, 2016 at 1:27 PM

    Me too Pip, me too. Both anxiety and worry. Rarely a hamster, mostly a tiger and only on a couple of long ago occasions was it a dark cloud of freaky whoosh. I manage it much the same way as you and I actually had wondered whether you had the same constant companion in your life from some of the previous things you have written…I guess when you experience something it is easier to pick up when someone else is experiencing that same thing, even without them saying directly. I agree with what Kristy says about Craft For The Soul, there are some really beautiful, helpful self care tips in there. And I also agree that it seems to be the other side of being a creative type. As I get more experienced at these things though, I have discovered that it is rare for things to ever work out as badly as I might fear and on many occasions they work out even better than I could ever have hoped! The knowledge of that in itself definately helps me through when things start feeling a bit patchy.

  • Reply
    kate
    June 13, 2016 at 1:23 PM

    I don’t think I am worrying about horsemanship nearly enough, and I do worry about dolls. I noted one of the “old dollies” as my grandkidlet calls them has a tear in her skirt and it needs a mend.
    Jokes aside, worry and anxiety are part of all our lives. Give a little, take a little – not too much. Be flexible. Be kind. That’s all we can ask of ourselves and others.

  • Reply
    SARAH @SARAHDIPITY
    June 13, 2016 at 1:14 PM

    I’VE SUFFERED FROM ANXIETY FOR MANY YEARS AND FOR MANY YEARS I TRIED TO FIGHT AND TRIED TO FIND ‘THE CURE’. BUT I NOW KNOW THAT ANXIETY IS JUST SOMETHING I NEED TO LEARN TO LIVE WITH AND MANAGE AND I’M GETTING THERE…SLOWLY. THANKS FOR SHARING PIP X

  • Reply
    Frog Goose Bear
    June 13, 2016 at 12:56 PM

    What a great post. Love that poem. So nice to know that those of us who suffer from anxiety are not alone. It’s something that reared its ugly head a few years ago for me and after getting a wee bit of professional help at the time, I’ve found now that all of the things you mentioned above are permanent necessities in life for me too. No longer seen as a luxury to have a walk, sit down for a cuppa, get a good night’s sleep, but are absolute necessities for one’s health and well being. As you have shown with your life, if you look after yourself, you can still achieve great things. No need to push yourself beyond what’s bearable.

  • Reply
    Carolyn
    June 13, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Anxiety. I’ve been there. Was really awful during my childhood and teenage years. Back then it was a pretty constant companion – the tightness in the throat and chest, the shallow breathing that accompanied going to school each morning, a trip to a shopping centre, the movies, a restaurant. The fear that I might be sick in public. The worrying about the ‘what ifs…’ I started practising yoga 16 years ago and I found that really helped. It keeps me more present, it has deepened my breathing which I think has helped to create a greater sense of calm in a day to day basis. But there are still days when being out in a social setting sends the heart racing. And now I see my daughter who has always worried about every potential scenario that might occur, that needs her little routines fulfilled to be able to lessen her anxiety before walking out the door each morning, who has fallen victim to panic attacks at school and other social settings. It’s yuck. It doesn’t really go away, we just have to learn to manage it and to reassure ourselves that nothing dreadful is going to happen.

  • Reply
    Therese
    June 13, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    So good of you to write this Pip. It makes it better for other anxiety sufferers to know that even successful creatives like you can feel things like us mortals 🙂 I suspect I’ve battled anxiety most of my life, but in the last few years it’s been more of a tiger, and in the last six months definitely the Alien. A great counsellor and anti anxiety drugs have helped me get back on with my life again. I don’t even care about the stigma. If you’ve got flu you’d take medication, so do whatever you have to to get back on track I say! Thanks for talking about it.

  • Reply
    Deb Baker
    June 13, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    I’m so glad you wrote this Pip. Ordinary folk like me often look at successful folk like you and think you really have it all together and marvel at how you do it all. I’ve suffered anxiety all my life but at the start of this year I got a nasty visit from the alien monster depression and I thought I was going to fall into a pit of nothingness. My life was frozen and I basically couldn’t function in the real world. Luckily I recently opened up about it and have now sought out medical help and I feel SO much better. I think it all starts with worry and empathy and it seems to hit creative types the hardest. Like you say it’s the downside of all that good stuff. I guess you can’t have it all. Anyway I guess I just want to say if anyone is feeling they’re not coping (like I was) please seek out help. It makes such a difference. And talk about it. I was so worried (there it is again) about the stigma.

  • Reply
    Kristy
    June 13, 2016 at 10:49 AM

    Anxiety is a recent visitor to my life – about two years ago she made her presence sharply known, and it was the Alien busting out of the stomach kind. Help from a good therapist and lots of love from an amazing community of friends really helped and it’s now more of the tiger come to tea kind. Some of the tips I have to manage the tiger came from YOU and your Craft for the Soul book – particularly the bits about living by your own rules and accepting what is important for YOU to feel good, even if that’s not the same as it is for anyone else.

    I’m off for a cup of tea and a wander around the garden. Hope you’re having an ace long weekend X

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      June 13, 2016 at 11:07 AM

      Aw man. The alien SUCKS. I am so glad you got some support and that you found a way to deal with your anxiety. It’s heartening for everyone else to read, I KNOW. Thanks for sharing such big stuff – and thanks for the kind words about my book. It means a lot that it’s useful to people. xxx

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