How I Counteract the Anxiety That Makes Me Lose Sleep


I usually sleep well, but today I have woken at 5:15 and can’t sleep.

There is fierce, raging activity in my head that consists of a series of worries and anxiety.

1. Something happened at work last week. I am worried that, although I know I did the right thing, others may not see it like that.

2. I have to run a working party today with a range of colleagues, and I fear they won’t like me and will realize I don’t know what I am talking about.

3. When the meeting is over, I will have to write it up and produce notes and actions, but I have not put any time in my diary to do this.

4. I have training to deliver on Monday and Thursday next week, but I also haven’t planned the training yet.

5. I have entered a singing competition in three weeks and do not know any of the songs yet.

6. My daughter is still unwell after flu and has stopped eating properly.

7. My husband may have to stop working, which may leave me with sole financial responsibility. And my cleaner has left.

8. I have woken up too early and will be exhausted today. I’ve arranged to take my kids to see a live stream Shakespeare for three hours tonight, but I’m now worried I will go beyond exhaustion because of it.

I could actually continue with more, but eight is probably enough.

What to do? Give up? Ring the doctor? On paper, these things may seem trivial, over-dramatic, irrational. But they feel very real.

I can manage them. Because I have before. A useful exercise I discovered before Christmas is to write them down, name them as feelings/worries and then force myself to counteract them with what I know.

Here’s how I counteracted those worries:

1. Something happened at work last week. I am worried that, although I know I did the right thing, others may not see it like that.

I have lots of evidence of what really happened, and I need to hold to that.

2. I have to run a working party today with a range of colleagues, and I fear they won’t like me and will realize I don’t know what I am talking about.

It is not about them liking me. I have done huge research, and I have a plan, agenda and a clear vision.

3. When the meeting is over, I will have to write it up and produce notes and actions, but I have not put any time in my diary to do this.

I will write detailed notes in the meeting.

4. I have training to deliver on Monday and Thursday next week, but I also haven’t planned the training yet.

I have PowerPoints I can adapt with experience and ideas. It is not about me but about what my audience needs.

5. I have entered a singing competition in three weeks and do not know any of the songs yet.

I can record the songs and listen to them as I drive.

6. My daughter is still unwell after having the flu and has stopped eating properly.

I can’t control whether she is hungry, but I will help her get better however I can.

7. My husband may have to stop working, which may leave me with sole financial responsibility. And my cleaner has left.

We only to have to get through two years and things will improve. I do need a new cleaner, though.

8. I have woken up too early and will be exhausted today. I’ve arranged to take my kids to see a live stream Shakespeare for three hours tonight, but I’m now worried I will go beyond exhaustion because of it.

Remember my university days. Frequent nights with four hours of sleep. Baby days — ditto. Did I die? Nope.

Our minds can be devious, and feelings and worries play tricks. But by getting them out, ordering them and challenging them, I believe we can get through them.

I try to focus on solutions. I have within me the skills and experience to solve problems and face challenges like this.

If your worries are stealing your sleep, take time to write them down and challenge them. And maybe talk them through with someone else who can help you find solutions.

A version of this post was originally published on staffrm.io.

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