Time anxiety is a real thing and here are strategies to cope

Originally published at: Time anxiety is a real thing and here are strategies to cope | Boing Boing

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Also helpful, musings from the battlefield. Marcus Aurelius has some helpful insights. This is an excellent translation:


An interesting one, for me at least, was when I got a so-called ‘dress watch’. A fancy, wind-up, mechanical watch with one interesting feature: it doesn’t have a ‘seconds’ hand!

Wearing it is oddly relaxing; without that continual tick-tock of the seconds going by, it is just ‘time’, if that makes sense … it removes a lot of urgency. Urgency I didn’t even know I felt until I wore that watch.


Seconded. Embracing elements of Stoicism does wonders in reducing one’s anxiety and blood pressure.


So does single malt scotch.


[you all knew it was coming]


While yes, this waking hours anxiety is critical to deal with, I am going to do a “what about.” What about night-time free-floating anxiety? Around 1 to 3 times a week since the pandemic started, I have been waking up around 2 or 3am and my mind is absolutely racing. It takes me an hour or two (or three) to calm down and get back to sleep. At first, this new anxiety was completely jarring and disconcerting. I had to get high a few nights in a row so I could get back to bed.

Then I realized a few things: stop drinking alcohol or eating sugar or carbs at night, so that I can sleep better. The carbs and alc alone will wake me. If I skip them, I will take a deeper dive, biorhythmically. Second, I started taking a pretty high dose of Melatonin: like 24mg, sometimes more. That helps me stay asleep. I also keep a glass of filtered water next to the sink, so that I can take a few sips in the night when I get up to pee.

But… all of this is neither here nor there, because I STILL wake up a couple nights a week, even with all these countermeasures. Now, I am so used to it that I pretty much dismiss it and don’t fret or give it any power. But it still happens regularly, despite everything.

I also realized a couple things about it: There is rarely a single topic of the anxiety. It is not “about” my next work day. It is typically an uncontrolled romp through everything stressful in my life and at 2am, precisely none of these problems are going to be solved, so I basically have given up and accepted defeat while this whole thing plays out. I don’t fight it anymore. I just get up and go read in the TV room for a while, maybe make some oatmeal or tea and sit quietly while my mind rages itself back to sleep.

Any words of advice about this? Does it happen to anyone else like I described? What do you do about it?


Try focusing on the here and now rather than allowing your mind to run free.

Focus on how warm your toes are for example. And how comfortable you feel. That sort of thing. Sometimes I imagine I’m snuggled up in my hammock in my winter sleeping bag.

I find that this is boring AF and it sends me back to sleep.


I had this problem, and still sometimes do. I look at my brain as a kind of computer that runs different programs, some in the foreground, some in background, at the same time. The anxiety is a program I call “worrier.” Normally it monitors what is happening to see if it is dangerous. It also compares current or possible future situations to those in the past where I screwed up, so that I don’t make the same mistake. The problem is that the Worrier is running out of control and makes life miserable (or wakes you up each night to do so).

A psychologist I saw said that the Worrier was a part of myself from the past, like the child I had been, and that I should try talking to and reassuring it. This is a theory called Internal Family Systems ( Internal Family Systems Therapy | Psychology Today). Whether it is true or not, I tried it, and it helped quite a bit. So next time 2am finds you with anxiety, try talking to it like it is a child that needs reassurance and to know that it is loved.

Sometimes, though, an icy shot of vodka will to the trick.


@BarchanDunes @Mercenary_Garage
Those are great suggestions, both of you. Thank you. I will try presence. Also, a nurturing stance instead of a hostile or indifferent stance could be more useful.

When I’m up, at first, I feel like the beginning of a panic attack - edgy, don’t know where to go or what to do, fidgety, jittery. But then, getting up, going into my routine for making tea or oatmeal… that’s what starts to bring me back down, doing a basic kind of self-care. So, I think you are right to be in the present moment actively, and to look at the Worrier as part of me, looking for some reassurance. Which I am. I do need reassurance and thank you for it because your comments were very reassuring. It’s why I asked instead of just being a stoic dick who acts like he has all the answers. I don’t, and I appreciate you both taking the time to write out your thoughts.

Also, bonus, for the LULZ:


This is happening to me as well. A lot of times there is an identifiable yet distant ‘stressor of the moment’ that get exaggerated to the point of emotional urgency and then breaks through my sleep and causes unpleasant pre-dawn anxiety. Examples like the lead up to the election and potential coup attempt or my brain turning some signs of structural ageing of my apartment and a nasty roof leak into 'hearing´ my house crumbling and wanting to get up and ‘go check’. Never had this until last year, either.
The technique suggested by a previous commenter seems to work for me as well: focus on everything physically comfortable about the bed and fluffy bedding and tell myself how great it is and how nice and how I’m so lucky to be able to be all snuggled up here enjoying such comfort … yadda yadda. The tangible.
Overall it pisses me off that I’m having anxiety attacks, sometimes nasty ones set up with such a lame metaphor (“everything’s falling to pieces around me” /“the ground is being torn from beneath me”) but whatever.


Same. Was ‘fine’ before Trump and then got even worse during the pandemic. I think I’m dealing with it ok, on the balance. It’s just not me. I’m usually energetic. But for the last year, I’ve been a complete slug. And this biorhythmic imbalance allows these anxieties even more space to grow into their own unwelcome existence.


Claudia, what is your meditation routine like, if I may ask?

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