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Making a List of Your Worries Can Help

pen-calendar-to-do-checklistThings have been getting heavy recently, It seems like I’ve been bogging myself down in stress from my desire to move, from my inability to find more writing gigs and from personal stuff like relationships.

The fact of the matter is that I’ve been worried about a lot of stuff, and it hasn’t been good.

It starts pretty simply, a passing thought here or there that sits in your head. It has a gravitational pull though and pretty soon it’s pulling all sorts of other related thoughts and worries into it. It becomes this big ball of yuck.

Another apt metaphor would be a simple cut or wound that you don’t clean and then soon it becomes infected by myriad other germs and starts to fester.

In essence, you have to be careful about worries, if you don’t take care of them they get bigger and infected and pretty soon you get to the point where you can’t think and where you can’t possibly muster up the energy to take care of them.

I got to that point this week and I had just had enough, I was so frustrated and worn down and I just didn’t know what to do.

Out of nowhere I just decided to try to do what I do best which is write. I sat at my computer and what came out was a list. It was a list of everything that had been on my mind, everything that I was worried about. From the burnt out lightbulbs in my bathroom, to my crappy neighbors to my problems with money everything came out. It poured out for a while until it came to a slow trickle and when I was done there must have been forty or fifty things on that list.

While I realize that I wasn’t exactly making any headway on any of those things by making a list, the simple practice of purging them out into a document was incredibly freeing.

For the first time in probably a couple months I felt like I could take a deep breath.

There have been all sorts of studies about the therapeutic benefits of writing, there’s a kind of catharsis in it and even if you’re not writing per se but just making a list, at least you’re getting that stuff out of your head where it bounces around and pulls things in with it’s gravitational weight and festers.

Making a list is also good because it gives you a sense of organization, it’s like you’re putting things into line by taking the time to recognize and grapple with exactly you’re dealing with.

Thoughts are pretty intangible, they’re vague shadows careening through your head and when you take the time to take them and turn them into tangible, concrete things and get them out it can clear a lot of the cobwebs out of the attic.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed I’d recommend sitting down and writing out everything that’s on your mind. It will definitely do its part to free things up a bit.

These little practices that I come upon pretty randomly seem to help and if it can help me, I’m pretty sure it can help you too.

Making a List of Your Worries Can Help

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2016). Making a List of Your Worries Can Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Mar 2016
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