How to create your own escape plan
I should first start with this. I love plans. I am a complete nerd. I love planning. I hardly ever stick to them, but there’s something about the sense of control, the reduction of anxiety, and the idea of dreams becoming reality that I find really appealing. Not quite Ryan Gosling appealing though. I’ll leave that for my X rated blog that is not appropriate to share here (joke, I’m way to busy for that.)
I love the big plans, the no-fucking-way plans, the big ass plans that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Nothing inspires me more than hearing stories of people who decide they want to change things up so make a plan to pack their things, travel the world or go move to another country and design a life that follows their passions.
But I also LOVE the small plans. The maybe plans, the just incase plans, the they-look-comforting-on-my-flower-post-it-note-plans.
As passionate people, I think it’s fair to say we get in all kinds of sticky situations. Through genuinely wanting to help other people, and wanting to use our strengths and skills for good, we end up in circumstances we don’t want to be in. We tend to say yes. A lot. It’s as if the word wants to burst out of our mouths before we’ve even been asked something.
I mean, we’ve all been there - roped into ‘helping’ someone we vaguely know (read: doing all the work for a project that we thought would take ten minutes), trying to get away with checking our watches to find a way out of a meeting, sitting with a friend we haven’t seen in a while - and now we remember why - and trying to find an excuse to leave but our imagination seems to have flown out of the window.
Or maybe we’re just somewhere we really don’t want to be, but we can’t find a way out. This is especially pertinent to being in the depths of burnout when we're forced to stop, or feel completely overwhelmed. Our anxiety levels can increase, the simplest of tasks can feel impossible and our confidence and self esteem can dip.
Now, learning to say no is another completely different topic so I'll leave that for a separate post. What I want to talk about here is what we can do to keep a strong sense of who we are and what we want, in moments we wish we could escape.
And that's where the small plans come in. A list of 4 things that you can do when things get too much and you want out. Like, right now.
Everyone is going to have different escape plans, so I'll share mine to give you an idea.
1. The bathroom breathing plan
This is one of my favourites. If you're stuck somewhere, let's say work for example and you start feeling overwhelmed and get the 'must leave now' urge, the bathroom could well be your best friend. When fight or flight kicks in, I can calmly walk to the bathroom, lock myself in a stall and BREATHE. Makes all the difference.
2. The deadline plan
I often use this when I'm nervous or my anxieties are playing up. I set myself an ideal time that I would like to finish the activity/conversation/whatever it is that I'm worrying about. Then I half it. Now here is the important part - tell the person/people your second, shorter deadline at the earliest possible moment. Set the expectation and boundaries at the earliest possibility and it takes a lot of the stress away. You might even find that you stay longer than you thought because you start to enjoy yourself now you're not under so much pressure and have the option to escape.
3. The treat plan
Sometimes, and this pains me to say it, there are very little ways out. Sometimes, things just have to be done. For those times, plan yourself a treat for after. Give yourself something to really look forward to. It could be having a nice coffee after, buying a magazine, having a long soak in the bath or something else that makes you feel good. It's about acknowledging you got through it when you thought you couldn't, and being proud of yourself.
4. The honest plan
Honesty is sometimes the best policy. Making people aware of your feelings can often work out in your best interest. Generally people are so wrapped up in themselves that they don't take much time to think of anything else. What you think must be blindingly obvious to them (your nerves, anxiety, panic), more likely than not goes completely over their heads. By making people aware of how you're feeling - if you feel able to - you might be surprised by how supportive they are, and how much release this gives you. (But perhaps don't tell your friend she is a complete fun-sucker, it is always nice to treat people how you like to be treated after all).
So next time you feel stuck somewhere you don't want to be, or everything gets too much, get this baby out of your toolbox and take her for a spin.
What are your escape plans? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!