Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Feeling anxious? Try safe mode!

I'd like to break my silence on this thing to introduce you to a small productivity concept that has resonated strongly with me. 

Do you sometimes wake up feeling anxious? Depressed? Rundown, disoriented, and nondirectional? Do you poop out of parties?




Or, did you have a little too much fun last night, and can't afford to take the day off? Feeling overwhelmed about all your myriad projects, big & small?

Why not try putting yourself into what my good friend Allison calls "safe mode"? 

"Safe mode" is a diagnostic state in computer operating systems in which the computer runs tasks and completes operations at a slower, less efficient rate. This is because something is wrong with the system and it cannot fully function, so it runs basic functionality including only the essentials until the larger problem is addressed. It is perhaps akin to low battery mode on iPhone, when background refresh, automatic downloads, and certain visual effects are deactivated. You can still text, check apps, make calls--but nothing fancy, important, or overly taxing.

When I wake up feeling anxious or otherwise, I go into safe mode. I make a list of small, easily executed tasks that perhaps I have been putting off. Emails, stray response papers that need grading, an online training course I've been avoiding, scanning PDFs for my class, updating the format of my CV, setting up Grade Center on Blackboard, ordering books for next semester. (Did I mention emails?) Nothing that involves too much active energy or engagement, nothing that deals in high stakes. These are arranged in a sequential order such that the small feat of completing one task enables you to pass onto the next one - like passing on to the next level in a video game. 

I prioritize things that will make me feel better about myself, reinforce my competency, and translate the nebulous work of much of academia into itemized tangibles--or, dare I use the language of assessment, deliverables. I end the day with a sense of satisfaction that I honored my need for some distance from my major, stress-inducing responsibilities, while having crossed a number of items off a list, clearing space for greater focus once I feel well enough to reenter normal mode. 

Leave the big tasks for a different day, when your desk is free of the small stuff. Try safe mode! It acts not only as a symptom of anxiety, but also serves as an antidote, for the accumulated little things can contribute to overwhelm in ways that we might not even recognize.

Source: mytherapistsays on IG

Safe mode is sometimes useful to switch on even when you aren't feeling anxious or overwhelmed, because it is so easy to let the small things pile up, and before you know it you've missed a deadline or disappointed a friend or colleague. I guess in that instance, you might be in safe mode and you don't even know it, sloughing off on the tasks that don't present themselves to you as immediately pressing. But at any rate, you might want to try blocking out a section of time on your calendar for safe mode tasks. With safe mode, you can spoon your way to better mental health!




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