The great thing about living in a place as vast and varied as New York City is that there's always so much to do. And the downside is also that there's always so much to do that I sometimes feel as if I've "wasted" a weekend just sitting around in my apartment.
But if you're lucky enough to have a ton of weekend options, Kevin Chapman, PhD, a member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says that there are a lot of reasons you might be a little anxious about what to do during your time off.
"Part of it is the paradox of, I have so much to pick from, so I pick nothing," he says. "The other part of it is that if you struggle with anxiety, uncertainty is a problem. So if you don't know if this activity is going to be fun or not, you might avoid it."
The paradox of choice is definitely something I relate to: There's so much going on all the time and so many people to see that it can be hard to pick just one thing without feeling FOMO over the other choices. Dr. Chapman says that it's essentially being afraid you're going to make the "wrong" choice about what to do, so you avoid making a choice in the first place.
But anxiety isn't always a bad thing — Dr. Chapman says he likes to call it "preparatory coping," or our way of preparing us for the potential of a future threat. When you think about that in terms of the anxiety you might experience over weekend plans, you can try to stop it by making some sort of plan, even if that plan is just to do one thing that you enjoy.
If you struggle with anxiety, uncertainty is a problem so if you don't know if this activity is going to be fun or not, you might avoid it.
Kevin Chapman, PhD
It might seem obvious that making a plan helps reduce anxiety. A 2011 survey found that planning was the best de-stressor among 3,000 participants because it fights anxiety before it even begins. But actually putting something down in a planner might make you more likely to follow through, and Dr. Chapman says that once you do one thing, it'll be easier to work towards doing more things you want to do.
"If you do something small first, motivation to do more will follow naturally," he says, adding that for example, washing your dishes might lead to you wiping down the sink, organising your dishes, and so on, and before you know it, you've cleaned the entire kitchen.
In that sense, if you want to get out of the house, start small — maybe decide to see a movie, or go to a café, and see where you go from there. But that being said, you don't always have to do a million things to make your weekend worth it.
"We’re so focused on what we accomplished and got done, but you can also ask yourself what you learned that weekend," Dr. Chapman says.
Maybe you learned that you really needed a day or two to stay inside and watch TV after a week of hopping from happy hour to happy hour. Or that you needed to decompress and get some errands done. Either way, if you still truly feel like you wasted a weekend, remember that there are more weekends to come, and you have time to do all the things you want to do.
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please contact Samaritans on 116 123. All calls are free and will be answered in confidence.