When life hands you a big fat f**king lemon and you can’t be arsed to make lemonade, this practical guide by one popular author may come in handy.
Sarah Knight, the New York Times bestselling author of the international sensation The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Get Your Sh*t Together, and You Do You, has penned a practical guide to managing anxiety – and it’s going viral.
Sarah says that her new book gives you practical ways to manage the situation, not to mention your anxiety about the situation. The book acknowledges all the bad s**t that can and probably will happen to you – from break ups and breakdowns to floods and family feuds – and shows you what you can realistically do about it so you can get on with your life, stop worrying and wallowing, and start bouncing back.
Think of Calm the F**k Down as the friend who, instead of reassuring you that ‘everything’s going to be okay,’ actually shows you how to make it so. Here, Sarah shares an extract from her book, with a practical guide to falling asleep when you just can’t stop stressing…
Why 2019 is the year I’ll stop feeling so guilty about lack of exercise, missing birthdays and taking time for myself
“This seems like a good place to address the tarantula in the room, which is that when anxiety is keeping you up at night, you may be able to name your problem (Good job!), but you can’t necessarily solve it in the moment.
“I get that, which is why I want to take a moment to introduce you to one of my favorite mental magician-and-assistant duos: Tonight You and Tomorrow You.
“Let’s say it is currently 3:00 a.m. on Friday, and you can’t sleep because on Tuesday you made an offhand comment to your coworker Ruth that you’re worried she may have interpreted as an insult even though she didn’t give any indication of such at the time and even though not one single word that came out of your mouth could possibly, by any sentient being, be thought of as a criticism. Still. What if?!?
“Well, if it’s 3:00 a.m., then Tonight You CAN’T call Ruth and CAN’T tell her you hope she wasn’t offended by that thing you said and CAN’T feel better about it when she replies, “What? I don’t even remember you saying that, so obviously I was not offended, you silly goose.”
“But Tonight You CAN set Tomorrow You up for success – by getting some goddamn sleep, Chief.
“You may think it’s impossible to fall asleep when you’re anxious about making things right with Ruth or when your to- do list is scrolling through your mind on endless loop like the NASDAQ on Times Square, but hear me out – this might be the single most useful nugget in this entire compendium of calm.
“First, think of the problem in terms of what we’ve discussed thus far: Falling asleep is the more urgent issue, so it should be your priority, right? Check.
“Furthermore, it’s the only part of this equation you have some control over now, and it’s one you can actually solve, correct? Check plus.
This is reality. Can you accept it? Checkmate.
“Ah, but not so fast, eh? I can smell your annoyance from here – a heady musk of Fuck you with a hint of Don’t patronize me, lady. Do you feel like you’re being bullied into doing something you simply cannot do, even though you know it’s good for you? I get that, too. For whatever reason, sometimes taking good, solid advice from other people is impossible. Definitely an occupational hazard for moi.
“So let’s look at your problem another way. Say, through the lens of my early twenties – a time when my then-boyfriend, now-husband’s entreaties for me to hydrate after every third cocktail felt more like a scolding than a suggestion, and when even though I knew he was right, I didn’t like feeling pressured, condescended to, or preshamed for tomorrow’s hangover.
“Nope, there was no better way to activate the You-Can’t-Make-Me Face than to tell Sarah Knight a few V&Ts in that she “should drink some water.”
Did I regret it in the morning? Yes. Did I take his advice next time? No. ’Twas a vicious cycle, with extra lime.
“Then one blessed day, a friend introduced me to the concept of a “spacer,” and everything changed. This was not a stupid glass of stupid water that somebody else told me to drink. No, it’s a spacer! It has a fun name! And I get to control my own narrative by sidling up to the bar and ordering one. My spacer, my choice. Where the fuck, you may by now be thinking, is she going with this?
Why I never make New Year’s resolutions (and you shouldn’t either)
“Well, besides having just introduced you to the second-most-useful nugget in this entire book, I would argue that deciding to have oneself a spacer is similar to deciding to go to sleep. In terms of being in a state where you know what you should be doing but don’t appreciate being told to do it, “intoxicated” is quite similar to “whipped into an anxious, insomniac frenzy,” is it not? I take your point. But what if I just can’t fall asleep, even though I agree that it’s best for me?
“Good, I’m glad we’re getting somewhere. Because I think – based on extensive personal experience – that you CAN drift off to dreamland if you approach the task differently than you have been thus far. If you take control of the narrative. If you treat “going to sleep” like ordering a spacer or checking off an item on that scrolling to-do list. Set your mind to accomplishing it and therefore to feeling accomplished instead of feeling like a very tired failure.
“But you’re not going to be there to remind me of this helpful nugget every night when my brain goes into overdrive – and even if you were, you still sound kind of smugly self-satisfied about the whole thing, tbh. Noted. But remember Tonight You and Tomorrow You?
“They’ve been waiting in the wings for the grand finale …
“One night as I was tossing and turning like one of those Chinese fortune-telling fish, my husband looked at me and said, “Tonight Sarah’s job is to go to sleep. Tomorrow Sarah can deal with this shit tomorrow.” So I thought about it that way, and I gave Tonight Me her marching orders.
“And it worked!
“Maybe he adapted it from the spacer trick when he saw how well that penetrated my defenses, or maybe I married a goddamn wizard, but I don’t care either way because ever since, I’ve been able to reframe the I-can’t- fall- asleep conversation – with MYSELF – and shift my focus from not being able to do the only thing I so badly want to do, to doing the only thing I can do
“And you know, I’ve always trusted Tomorrow Me to handle tomorrow’s tasks, assuming she gets enough shut- eye. Now I recognize that it’s Tonight Me’s job to get her to the starting line in fine fettle.
“Talk about sleight of mind. Yep. Definitely married a wizard. But hey, you don’t have to take it from us. Take it from Tonight You – Tomorrow You will thank you tomorrow.”