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Using Lists to Beat Anxiety Today

Using Lists to Beat Anxiety Today
I’ve always been drawn to lists.
Probably because I’ve always had anxiety, and they help me get control of my thoughts.
But I realized something…
The way I created lists wasn’t helping me whatsoever.
Now, today, I’m happy to teach you a more effective, anxiety-busting approach.
In three minutes, you’ll be ready to give it a shot and get some control over your anxiety.

My Futile Attempt to Manage Anxiety
But first–let’s back up and talk about anxiety.
What happens when you’re anxious?
For most people, their thoughts begin to swim and swirl.
The body begins to ache and tense up.
And then there’s the inaction and indecision.
For me, the biggest sign that I’m anxious is that I’m overthinking and underdoing.
I want to take action, but I just can’t.
Can you relate?
Anxiety might be a hidden force, but it’s a force all the same.
Let’s just put it this way–when you’re anxious, you’re not at your best.
The way I first tried to deal with my anxiety was by mapping out my entire life–first in my head, which didn’t work very well, and then on paper.
Trying to map out my entire life in my head was like trying to see the whole world while being stuck in quicksand.
No matter how hard I tried, I never seemed to get anywhere.
But then I got my thoughts down on paper, and I started to see a difference.
The problem was, I had my approach all wrong.
I thought that if I wrote down everything I wanted to do, with completion dates, then my life would be all set.
I thought I needed to just name my intention and that everything would be alright.
But now I know that I was in a dream state.
I wrote down the map, but I never had a plan,
And this is where lists come in.
A List Appears (The "Right" Kind of List)
A list doesn’t need to be fancy.
In fact, I’ve found it’s better if it’s not.
A list, at its most basic, is just a collection of words on one line followed by a collection of words on another line.
Even one word can constitute a line on a list.
Because the power is in the process.
It’s a form of poetry if you really stop and think about it.
When you’re overwhelmed, one of the best things you can do is just get everything out of your head in list format.
Because once you have several lines on a page or a screen, you start to notice patterns.
Then, suddenly, a timeline appears.
You can sort through the lines and reorder them.
You can combine multiple lines if you realize that it makes more sense to do so.
Now, I should warn you.
Don’t make every list a task list.
To-do lists have their place, but this is not exactly the kind of list I’m talking about.
The type of list I’m referring to here is best if you’re facing a wall of anxiety due to a looming project–or due to not even knowing where to start.
The goal is to get your thoughts on paper so that the paper can get your thoughts in place.
The paper is the medium, and your mind is the musical instrument.
Just like a jazz musician works off a music sheet full of organized notes but can improvise from time to time, you can work off a list while adding your own flair.
So I want you to try this today.
Think about a major project that has been causing you pain and making you anxious.
Then, take out a piece of paper and a pen.
And start to write down your list.
Keep each line simple.
There are no rewards for using big vocabulary words, my friend.
Start with whatever comes to mind–and write away.
I find that changing the location of where I start writing on the page often changes my thought process, so experiment with that as well.
The left part of your brain is very good at finding patterns and creating order out of nothing.
But the right, more creative part of your brain can come in handy, too.
Start writing the list in a way that feels right to you.
The entire point of this exercise is learning to trust the process.
I can’t think of a single time that writing a list hasn’t helped me make sense of a big project that has been causing me anxiety.
And the best part of this technique is that you can do it whenever you want.
You don’t need a guru to give you permission, and you don’t need to worry about doing it the right way.
Your brain is a natural, ultra-powerful list-making tool.
Start using it today.
Never did I ever think I would grow up to write about the power of lists. Boy, life can get real interesting, can’t it?
Jokes aside, I love lists, and I think you’ll love them too if you don’t already.
Give this approach a shot, and let me know how it goes!
Happy Tuesday from your goofy mental health guy,
P.S. Here’s my favorite list-making tool, Workflowy. The free version is more than enough for what I need.
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