Writing Wednesday: Worry list

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worried sidewalk

Worries tend to swirl around in our minds, and after awhile can make us feel bogged down. This exercise will help you break the worry cycle by getting your worries out of your head and turning them into actions.

First, get a big piece of blank paper. A page out of the printer tray is perfect; don’t use your nice journal. Next, do a brain dump of everything you’re worried about. If you’ve never done a brain dump, you can see how it’s done here. It’s simple really: just write down everything you are worried about. Don’t categorize anything, don’t stop to think about any details right now. Just get it all written down.

Write down everything you can think of that you are worried about, big and small. Your personal health. Your work and/ or financial situation. Your children’s grades and/ or social interactions. Your grandma. Your parents. The political situation in your country. Global warming. Get everything down on the page. Get another page if you need to.

It can feel daunting to have all your worries staring back at you. But next is the empowering part.

Get a new piece of paper for every worry, and do a mind map. If you’ve never done a mind map, you can see how to do one here.

Designate one page to each worry, and write what you can do about it. For most worries there is something you can do, although you might have to look at it from a different angle. If you are worried about your work situation, it might be time to train for a new career or different role. If you are worried about your grandma, be in touch more. If you live nearby, visit her more often, offer to take her to the doctor or do her grocery shopping for her.

Whatever the worry is, write down anything and everything you can do about it. Break down ideas into tasks you can do. Then go through with your highlighter and focus on your priorities. What can you do RIGHT NOW to take action? And what are longer-term steps you can take? Write tasks and priorities into your planner.

By getting your worries out in front of you and thinking about what actions you can take toward them, you will break through the worry cycle and move forward with productive actions.

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