The ‘Worry Hit List’

June 3, 2021

Have you felt stressed in the last weeks or months?

Whether it’s low level concerns about kids and work, or bigger ticket items most of us are dealing with worries of some kind or another. It’s part and parcel of life.

The problem isn’t that we get stressed – it’s that these stressors have a tendency to build up in our minds and overwhelm us. Small frustrations merge into bigger issues, and we start to feel uncertain about what we should do.

Don’t ignore what’s bothering you

Anxiety is fuelled by ambiguity and if we don’t have a clear view about how to deal with things that are worrying us it only drives our stress levels up further. If instead, we can reduce the ambiguity around a situation by getting clear on our options, we can dial down our feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. 

One way to do this is what I dub my ‘Worry Hit List’. It is a simple and effective tool that allows you to identify the things that are causing you stress and deal with them. 

How it works

Firstly grab a piece of paper (or open a spreadsheet) and label four columns as follows:

  1. What is worrying me? 
  2. What are my options to resolves it?
  3. What option am I choosing?
  4. What is the first action I need to take to make this happen?

Things to consider

  • There are always at least two options – do nothing OR take an action of some description.
  • Given the options that are available to you make a conscious choice about what you want to do. Do you want to do nothing and let it run its course? Or do you want to do something to improve, finish or investigate it? Either way – you choose.
  • Once you have decided the option you’re taking identify the first action you need to take. If your decision is to do nothing it might be “go for a walk” or “see a friend”. Something that removes you from the situation.

Rinse and repeat

You don’t have to stop at the big ticket item that’s bothering you. Repeat the process as many times as necessary, getting all the worries big and small out of your head.  

While it won’t erase the difficulties you’re facing this process will help put you back in the driving seat. In doing so it shifts you from the emotive part of your brain back in the executive function.

The increased clarity on the situation additionally acts as a circuit breaker for feelings of paralysis and gives you a sense of a greater sense of control, which in turn reduces the associated sense of anxiety. 

It really is a very simple but effective tool to deal with stress.

Got something on your worry list? Give it a shot. 

Want to chat about this topic or anything else. Get in touch!

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