Is it Possible to Outsource Your Anxiety?

Published on: 13 Mar 2018
Managing your anxiety by receiving help from another

You know the problems that come with over-scheduling yourself, but you do it anyway. And so you’re stressed, and you’re exhausted. All the competition for your time is manifesting into more anxiety, but you have little time to reflect on what you want and what you need to stay well.

If you want to ease your chronic unrelenting stress, then, “be less busy” is the obvious answer — but it’s an annoyingly unattainable one. After all, if you could just knock things off your to-do list to make time for an afternoon of reading by the fire, wouldn’t you be doing that already?

Overcoming the Endless Stress and Anxiety Cycle

Chronic unrelenting stress is the stress that keeps you up at night. The kind that comes when you reach the end of your day and the items on your to-do list are still not crossed off. It’s going to bed realizing you have to fight the same battle tomorrow — the list is there, and more will be added because it will be yet another day.

So what do you do to get off the merry-go-round of endless stress, and the feeling you will never dig your way out? Outsourcing help has been gaining popularity over time, but the concept brings its own questions or fears of judgement.

“Many people feel guilty about not being able to manage…others worry things won’t get done the way they want them to if they pass the responsibility to someone one else. Others have a self-critical voice that whispers ‘If I don’t do it myself, I must be lazy’ or ‘I know everyone else can manage, why can’t I?’” said Judy Cohan, a licensed clinical psychotherapist in Deerfield, Ill.

Outsourcing As a Solution

The outsourcing of domestic help, such as cleaning and lawn maintenance, became common centuries ago and continues to increase and modernize. Beyond help in the kitchen or around the house, there are now ads targeted to us from companies such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, which are helping make dinner time an easier affair and further popularize the benefits of outsourcing. House cleaning services especially are booming, and being employed even by those with limited disposable income. It seems the idea of outsourcing help is catching on.

But how do you know if outsourcing is right for you? Cohan suggests asking yourself a series of questions to see if outsourcing makes sense. These include:

  • Will outsourcing this activity give me my time back?
  • What will I be able to do with my extra time?
  • Will this allow me to use my time in a way that allows me to live more fully?
  • Have I tried to do it all?
  • How has that worked?
  • Are there tasks that I am not good at or don’t know how to do?
  • How does this chronic anxiety and endless array of tasks stop me from doing things that are important to me?
  • What important tasks am I putting off until I get certain task done? Can I afford to outsource?

Procrastinating can be a signal to outsource,” Cohan said. “Oftentimes, but certainly not always, we put things off because we don’t have the resources, knowledge or skills to do them well. Take revamping your website, for example. If you know you’d have to learn a new computer program that would require a lot of your time and skills that you don’t want, need, or would stress you out to obtain it’s worth considering hiring someone to help you out.”

Another way to decide if an extra set of hands would be beneficial is to make a list of all of your daily tasks, expectations, and general needs. For example, I know I need to set aside 8.5 hours for work, 2 hours for my commute, 7 hours for sleep, 3 hours for meal prep, shopping for food and eating, an hour for showering and dressing. Some nights I need time to answer emails or attend after-work meetings.

This leaves little time for friendships, spending time with my husband, exercise, straightening up our house, the almost-impressive overflowing pile of laundry, fixing that pesky leak in the bathroom sink…and this scarcity of time leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Making Outsourcing Work for You

Once you’ve decided outsourcing is a possibility, the key is to only interview a few vendors, not everyone you find — which will only add additional stress. Before getting in touch with anyone, identify what you want the person to accomplish and be clear with what you are looking for in terms of the process.

For example, are you looking for someone to work entirely independent of your direction, or do you want the person to check in with you? After you’ve given these questions some thought, start perusing boards such as Fiverr, neighborhood postings, or TaskRabbit to screen possible candidates.

Cohan suggests keeping several vendors in the loop to keep your anxieties of picking the right one at bay. “Try a couple of people at once,” she said. “Break up the tasks you have into smaller pieces so you can see who’s a good fit. The same person you hire to create a website may not be as skilled as someone else you can hire to create content. Similarly, the person you hire to cook healthy meals might not be the most efficient at catering your next dinner.”

Outsourcing chores by hiring a cleaning service or personal assistant might sound like the kind of splurge that a recession-era budget would quickly eliminate. But outsourcing certain household tasks can end up saving you much time and energy, and decreasing your anxiety is well worth the cost.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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