16 'Simple' Things That Are Harder When You Live With Anxiety
Cooking dinner is something I enjoy, and comparatively, it’s one of the more simple and low-pressure tasks I get to do every day. But when my perfectionism and anxiety take over, suddenly a seemingly “easy” task become hard and even painful.
Even though I’m only cooking for me and my boyfriend, I feel like I’m preparing a feast for a world-renowned food critic, and my non-existent future career as a chef is on the line. I tend to cook the same meals over and over again, because whenever I try something new, modifying anything at all makes my perfectionism go into overdrive. I read instructions again and again and again to make sure I read them right.
I end up getting stressed and anxious — and sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Although it’s something I’m trying to get better at, I’m also learning to not be hard on myself. It’s OK if cooking makes me anxious, and if you have a similar story, that’s OK too.
Sometimes anxiety can make things hard that are “supposed” to be simple. That’s why we asked our mental health community to tell us one “simple” thing they struggle with because of their anxiety. If this is you, you’re not alone, and there are steps you can take to make these things less stressful.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. Making a Phone Call
“Calling anyone. It’s almost as if something is physically holding me back from being able to. My blood runs cold, and I have to prep myself every time.” — Ashley P.
“Phone calls. I hate answering the phone. But I also hate having voicemails. I always assume the voicemails are something bad.” — Lara M.
“I can’t make them. I can’t answer them. I converse strictly in text messages unless it is an emergency. I especially cannot make appointments for myself… I always have to beg my mom or brother to call the doctor or my therapist or psychiatrist for me, because otherwise I’ll just sit for hours staring at the phone repeating the number in my head and trying to figure out how to say words.” — Nicole L.
If you can relate, this piece might help: “8 Tips for Managing Phone Anxiety”
“Really silly, but sometimes my basic hygiene suffers, like brushing teeth, hair, showering, etc. In fact, that’s one of the first things to go for me.” — Lauren H.
“Basic hygiene is one of the first things out the window for me. And talking on the phone. That’s all my job used to be. I can’t do it. I hate it.” — Priscilla G.
If you can relate, this piece might help: “15 ‘Hygiene Hacks’ for When You’re Depressed“
3. Falling Asleep
“Falling asleep at night and getting out of bed in the morning. The feeling of panic and anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks when it comes time to try and relax, and when I first wake up. Sometimes it’s debilitating.” — Sahar S.
“Falling asleep at night causes my mind to wander to ‘crazy’ stuff.” — Mariah A.
If you can relate, this piece might help: “19 Tips for When Anxiety Keeps You Up at Night“
4. Leaving the House
“Walking out my front door. Being away from home makes me very anxious. Honestly, even just being out of my bedroom makes me uncomfortable. When I’m away from home my stomach is knotted, I’m hypervigilant, jumpy and my emotions are extra sensitive. It’s not uncommon for me to be irritable, cry and/or find a way to escape.”
“Leaving the house. If I get busy and don’t keep track of my general mental health, my anxiety gets so bad that sometimes when I try to leave the house, it puts me into a panic attack. As a result, sometimes I have to cancel plans with friends or family and it makes the anxiety worse because I feel like I’ve let them down.” — Anila P.
5. Finding a Job
“Finding a job/working. It makes me very ashamed of myself that I can’t contribute to society as I should. Just thinking about an interview sends me into a panic. It scares me so much.” — Rianna J.
6. Talking in Social Situations
“Speaking up in social situations. Whether it’s at a party, in a class or a group of friends. My anxiety is so high in these situations, it’s like my brain freezes and I can’t speak.”– Katie S.
“Starting conversations with people. If I’m required to initiate contact, it will take me a long time to work up the nerve to do it. This includes in person and also online, too. I actually really want to, it’s just really hard for me to reach out first.” — Jessica S.
7. Ordering Food
“Ordering food. Saying ‘excuse me’ if I’m trying to slide past someone. Saying ‘no.’ Stating my opinion in a conversation. Answering simple ‘my favorite is’ questions. Standing up in a room full of people (even if everyone is already standing).” — Courtney L.
8. Being Alone
“I have a very difficult time staying home alone when my boyfriend goes out of town for work. I almost always end up with an intense panic attack (full of hyperventilating and crying) and stay with my parents for the duration. I’m 25 and I wish more than anything that I could just be a ‘normal’ adult.” — Stephanie R.
“Going to the store alone, I get anxious even when separated in the store from whoever I go with, just being alone in general. I mean I like my ‘alone’ time in my room, but other people are still in the house.” — Tracy S.
“When I have to go anywhere alone. My husband is my rock, he carries me through everything, so I will try not to have to go places if he can’t go with me. Everything about being alone in public is way too hard. I save all errands for his days off so that if something does go wrong. he is there to fix it and pull me through.” — Nina S.
9. Dealing With a Small Change in Routine
“Change! I hate change unless I choose it, and in life, that’s not always possible. I always have anxiety when it comes to change, especially big things.” — Jen S.
“Going off routine. When something comes up — an unexpected day off work, having to work late, can’t take my normal route home — the anxiety I’ve been carefully controlling bursts out of me and I stop being able to function due to a panic attack.” — Kayla M.
If you can relate, this piece might help: “When Your Brain Can’t Handle a ‘Small’ Change in Plans“
10. Getting Up in the Morning
“Getting up in the morning. I can either get up and get showered and leave the house within half an hour of getting up, or it might take me all day to work up to being able to get out of bed to go to the toilet and then eventually eat and shower. I also finding opening and responding to messages and emails difficult and phone calls are even worse.” — Ruth C.
“Getting out of bed in the morning for work. I wake up and then the anxiety kicks in. Then I’m late getting ready and anxious about that. Then I’m late to work and I’m anxious about that. It snow balls into a full-blown panic attack by the time I get into morning meeting. Then I feel like I’m being stared at. Sigh… starts over the next day repeats.” — April D.
“Getting out of bed in the morning to face the day is a chore within itself. There’s that brief moment when my mind is clear, and I feel so at peace. Then all my problems and things to do come flooding back and fill my head. Attempting to get certain things done can be extremely difficult. Just looking at the things to get done on my daily to do list gets me anxious and overwhelmed. Many people don’t understand this and they act like I’m ‘crazy’ for not just doing something and getting it over with. My logical side knows it’s simple, but my anxiety says everything is too much work. It’s exhausting.” — Gloria V.
If you can relate, this piece might help: “22 Things People With Anxiety Do First Thing in the Morning”
11. Grocery Shopping
“Going grocery shopping. My goal is to get in and out as quickly as possibly. I get so stressed about it, I usually forget my list. I try to remember throughout the store but I am so flustered I can’t think. I get half of what I need if I’m lucky.” — Jennifer D.
“Running errands: grocery shopping, getting gas, farmer’s market, lines, talking to the cashier. I usually end up saying nothing, or something ‘dumb’ and get mad at myself as I walk back to my car.” — Jackie M.
If you can relate, this piece might help: “The Words That Help Me Overcome Grocery Store Anxiety“
12. Going to a New Place
“Going to a new place for the first time. I get petrified because I’m so afraid I’m going to be in the wrong place.” — Savanah B.
“Going to a new place. I panic and strategize on how to get there first. And once I’m there — I’m looking to locate all restrooms and exits for quick escape.” — Lauren R.
“Driving a car. I can’t even drive my kids to the park down the street. I feel like I’m no fun because of my anxiety. Then I get anxiety that I’m constantly making my kids miss out, because I am. And I have to rely on others to take us places.” — Tracee W.
“Driving outside of my ‘bubble’ by myself. Family/friends don’t understand what that simple thing actually does to me. If I don’t know where I’m going, my anxiety is so bad, my body physically reacts. I shake uncontrollably, my hands get clammy. I become scatterbrained and impulsive. Clearly not safe while driving. GPS does not help. I don’t trust it. It’s always rerouting.” — Shannon M.
“Replying to texts. If it doesn’t fit my set of answers I have in my head, then I have no idea what to do. It’ll take me a good three to six tries to type out a reply that seems ‘right’ and then after that I’ll still be preoccupied by it.” — Lucy W.
“When someone takes long to respond to my text, or if it shows they read it but they don’t reply right away. I always worry I said something wrong, that they don’t like me or that they find me boring. It makes me sick to my stomach sometimes.” — Becca S.
15. Asking for Help
“Asking my parents for help. I always feel like I’m bothering them or my mind convinces me that they’ll just be angry, so I tend to avoid them sometimes.” — Makenha C.
16. Asserting Your Needs/Saying “No”
“Telling people ‘No.’ Asserting yourself is hard because you tend to want others to think good of you. Being confident in your own answer and choices.” — Anwar T.
“Asserting myself in the tiniest ways. For example, if I am saving a seat for someone and someone else comes up it’s hard to say, ‘This seat isn’t available.’” — Julia L.
What would you add?
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash