An Exercise That Helps Me When My Worries Take Over

Everyone out there struggles with worry from time to time. Worry that keeps you up at night, makes you pace the floors or takes over your thoughts.

Worry and anxiety are persistent and debilitating struggles for me. Freezing and becoming non-functional during these times is a common reaction which then leads to more anxiety and fear that doing nothing is making everything worse.

So I have an exercise I have used from time to time (and am using more now) to help with this problem. If any of you out there need a hand, you may want to check it out.

1. Get out a notebook and pencil.

2. Write “My Worries” at the top of the page.

3. List them all out.

4. Order them in level of discomfort they cause you.

5. Take the first one and write it at the top of a new page.

6. Write: “My Thoughts” as a header and below it list all of the thoughts you have about this worry. (“I don’t know what I’m doing,” “I can’t do this,” “People will think I’m stupid if I fail,” etc.)

7. Write: “Reality” as a header and below it list the actual nitty gritty of the situation and what it actually means. (“I don’t know everything about this project but if I ask I can learn,” “I can do this, I’m just facing a new fear, which is hard,” “I’m not going to fail — but even if I did, what person out there hasn’t failed and stands to judge me?”)

8. Repeat for as many of the worries on your list as you see fit.

9. If you want to take it a step further, you can put an action step or two under each worry so you can feel empowered to use the information you just reflected on and turn it into positive action.

When I do this exercise, I’m able to attend to the self-defeating and erroneous thoughts that tend to overload my brain when I’m anxious. By facing the reality of the situation, writing it out and revisiting it when the worry comes back, I free myself and feel more grounded in reality.

This has been a lifesaver lately.

Just because I think it doesn’t make it true…

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