Tool 5: Engaging in Life
Spending time with family and friends
Sometimes when we are anxious we tend to isolate ourselves, especially if we want others to see only our best and “happy” side. We can start thinking that we don’t have the energy to fake it anymore. Isolating ourselves can give us a bit of relief in the short term, but we are depriving ourselves of one of the most powerful tools for managing stress – spending time with people we care about.
It is important not to underestimate how vital it is to spend time with people to whom we feel attached. Research consistently tells us that the support we get from others is one of the strongest predictors of overall well-being. But sometimes we need to push ourselves to reach out to others or let them in. Even a five-minute phone chat can help. If you are worried it will take too long, start by saying, “I just have five minutes to chat but I really wanted to catch up.” If fear is getting in the way of being around others, visit Facing Fears for ideas on building confidence.
What we want to avoid, however, is asking others for reassurance over and over about our worries. See Resisting the Quick Fix for more details.
For our mental health, sometimes the best time to spend time with others is when we “feel” like doing it the least!
Scheduling pleasurable activities
We schedule our to-do lists full of appointments, errands, and tasks. We sometimes forget to schedule in some fun and pampering! Our bodies are doing such important work right now and this can be a time when we can treat ourselves with massages, pedicures, and other little indulgences.
For 185 ideas for fun activities, see the Centre for Clinical Interventions’ Fun Activities Catalogue.