5 Ways List-Making Can Help You Take Control Of Your Anxiety

Making a list is a powerful action for your mental control. By taking the buzzing, fluttering thoughts in your head, and putting them on paper, you are physicalizing your worries and concerns. If you can hardly get started with your day because you can’t stop thinking about how much you have to do, maybe it’s time to sit down and make a list. Here are 5 reasons making a list can help you curb your anxiety.

1. Combat Information-Overload

Anxiety thrives on confusion and chaos. It is a wild, jumbled mess in your head, buffeting you every which way. The first step to overcoming anxiety is removing the chaos. Lists are a great way to organize information. The list of lists you can make is endless! You can make lists for work, errands, even hobbies and things you like. By writing down the things in your head, you begin to sort through the whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, memories and experiences that may be plaguing you.

2. Avoid Avoidance

If you experience severe anxiety you may find yourself avoiding the things that trigger it. This can pose a problem if those triggers are important things that need to happen. Triggers can also come from things you enjoy. If they didn’t matter, you wouldn’t worry about them. Because these are things you care about, avoidance is rarely the best solution. Making lists is a powerful way for you to be aware of your triggers and to face them head on. By forcing yourself to be aware, you have taken the first step to getting past avoidant behavior and doing the things that you need and want to do.

3. Make the Intangible Tangible

Much of anxiety is feeling like things are outside of your control. You feel anxious when you don’t know what is going to happen, or don’t feel empowered to do what you need to do. By taking these intangible, jumbled fears, thoughts and responsibilities and putting them on paper, you have taken something that doesn’t exist and brought it into the real world. By looking at your ephemeral thoughts on paper, you can gain control of them. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to list the things that are overwhelming you. Then list the tasks required to overcome them. You can regain control.

4. Get Your Priorities Straight

When you go to the grocery store without a list, you are more likely to purchase items that you don’t need. This wastes time and money, and can result in throwing out perfectly good products because you didn’t actually need them. The same goes for your daily tasks. If you know you have things to do today, but haven’t taken the time to order them in your mind, you may end up neglecting the most important ones. By making a list of the most important things you have to do, you can feel prepared and at peace with the actions you’ve chosen to take. It will also help keep you from splitting your focus between tasks because you know you are doing the right thing at any given moment.

5. Practice Mindfulness

If you have a million things to do today, you may feel guilty taking the time to write them down. You may feel the need to plow into your day by jumping into the first task that comes to mind. It may cause you to have a “just get it done!” mind set. This will kill any enjoyment or satisfaction you may have been able to gain by your tasks. By sitting down and taking the time to organize your thoughts, you are practicing a mindfulness technique. You are slowing down and allowing yourself to be in the present moment. This grounding action can help you feel calm and empowered. It can even breed creativity and help you be more efficient and successful in your tasks.