I used to worry a lot.
And when I say a lot I mean a lot.
I used to worry about everything.
Literally, you name it - I’d worry about it.
As you can probably imagine worrying about everything made me miserable - I was constantly stressing out and over-thinking possible scenarios. Keeping myself busy with all of that negativity, I started missing out on amazing opportunities, which only made me even more miserable. At that point I knew it was time for a change, so I started doing yoga and daily meditation. Of course, doing a “downward-facing dog” made me feel very zen, but once the session was over I somehow managed to find my way back to my old worries. This is when I stumbled upon “The 7 Habits of The Highly Effective People” - a book which, as you might have guessed by the title, focuses on efficiency. Well, it turns out that sometimes books on efficiency provide not only tips on how to increase your productivity, but also - how to change your life.
You know when you walk into the supermarket because you need just that one thing and then walk out with a full bag? That is kind of what happened here too - I started reading, aiming to improve my efficiency, and there I was, on page 10, realizing that what I had just read was the solution to all of my problems (except for the productivity part, that came after I got a bit further than page 10). To make a rather long story short, in order to stop worrying about everything I simply had to realize that there are things in life, which are out of my control. So instead of banging my head in the wall and worrying about them, I can focus all of my energy into the things which are under my control.
If we take an exam, for example, me before this realization would have spent countless hours worrying about the questions that might come up. Me after, however, would instead focus on studying as much as she could, so no matter what would come up she would be prepared. This same mindset was translated into all aspects of my life - I was no longer miserable because of stress. In fact, it was the exact opposite - I was more driven than ever before, knowing that I can give my full 100% to the things that were under my control and forget about the ones that aren’t.
This motivation, of course, was not a constant in my life - I had my down days, I had anxiety, I sometimes would overthink situations. Like any person, I wasn’t perfect, but what truly mattered was that I was making the conscious effort to improve. Once I had that goal in mind it didn’t bother me that I was taking two steps forward and one back - that one single step forward kept me going.
Today, almost two years later, I continue perceiving life with the same attitude. I put effort into what I can affect, not in everything. Here I sit on day 10 of the quarantine writing this. With the hope that the mindset that changed my life can help others whose anxiety is heightened by the current situation. Frankly speaking, I was also worried in the first days - I am currently stuck in France where I am on exchange. There are no flights going back to my home county and my room is nine square meters, so I do get a bit of cabin fever now and then. It took me a few days to pull myself together and remind myself that complaining or worrying isn’t going to do any good for me, so I sat down and I made a list. On that list, I wrote all the assignments I needed to finish in order to finalize my semester abroad. As well as some personal goals like completing the hundred squats per day challenge and start drawing again. Every day I look at the list and I try to tick off at least one assignment and one personal goal. This helps me not only to keep my mind off of the things I cannot control but also to become a better version of myself.
Right now if you aren’t a scientist working on the vaccine or working on the front lines, there is not a lot you could do to improve the situation except to stay home and do as much social distancing as possible. This, however, gives us the opportunity to improve ourselves; to do the things we’ve never had the time for. Start a new online course, try out that amazing recipe for cookies you saved months ago, catch up with your long-distance friends on Face-Time. So just take the time to unwind and pamper yourself - do whatever would make you happy. If you still have lectures or assignments to finish - try making a list and balancing the workload and the fun activities. Keep in mind that once all of this is over we will have to return to our “normal” lives and the more active and focused you remain the easier that transition is going to be.
This is a turbulent time, and I am not proposing that we turn a blind eye to what the world is going through and instead learn Spanish and do face-masks. However, I do believe that if we put our time and purpose into productive activities we can make the most out of our time in quarantine. We may come out of quarantine as the best version of ourselves, or at least one step closer than before.
If you take one thing away from this article remember this: the only thing in this world that is fully under your control is you, so if you want to change anything this should be your starting point.
By: Daniela A. Zasheva
Daniela is Bulgarian and a third-year International Business student. She is currently on exchange in France. She loves traveling and managed to visit 18 different counties in 2019. She also absolutely adores coffee, would even go as far as to call herself a coffee connoisseur. She is on the path to essentialism and is passionate about provoking dialogue and change.