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Inertia Can Both Stress You and Save You

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Have you ever found yourself paralyzed with anxiety? Maybe a better question would be “When was the last time you were paralyzed with anxiety?”

I don’t mean physical paralysis, where you literally cannot move. I’m talking about being so overwhelmed with so many things to do that you just can’t seem to do any of them. Or even this: when you don’t feel like doing anything, including doing nothing!

When you are dealing with cancer or another serious illness this situation seems to come up even more because a) you have more things to do, b) you have less time to do them, and c) you have more than enough overwhelm just from the illness you are dealing with.

Someone recently pointed out the concept of inertia and how it applies to this type of paralysis, and it changed my perspective on the topic. Let’s start with the basics: what is inertia? Inertia is a term in physics which describes the tendency of an object at rest to stay at rest, and an object in motion to stay in motion. In other words, if you’re stuck you stay stuck, and if you’re doing things you continue to do so.

A bicycle is a good example. When you first start out it takes a lot of energy to get up to speed, but once you’re on your way it takes relatively little energy to maintain that speed. The difficulty starting the ride is due to the inertia of you and your bike at rest to stay at rest. Once you get going, though, it’s easy to maintain your speed and that is also due to inertia; the inertia of you and your bike in motion.

So how can we use this concept when we have so many things to do that we can’t do any of them? We are trapped by the difficulty of getting ourselves moving. To use the bicycle metaphor if we just start pedaling, even slightly, each time we go around will be easier than the last.

In other words, when you just can’t seem to do anything you need to start doing something, anything, to get yourself moving and take advantage of the inertia that that will create. Even if it isn’t the most important thing you have to do, you can depend on the inertia that you create to carry you into more important things. Start by doing something very simple: for example, wash just one dish out of the pile in the sink. Once you do that, you’ll discover that the next one is easier, and the third one easier still.

Look! You’re moving! Keep it going and when the dishes are all washed then you can make those phone calls or do the shopping.

Try it. Just think; you can actually harness one of the basic laws of physics!

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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