What, me worry?

After writing last week’s “Using the Hoard” post, I created a few of the specialty pocket notebooks that I wrote about in that post—the Pen & Ink log, the Menu/Grocery log, and the Worry log. Of the three, the Worry log has been the most-used this week—a real game changer for someone who is prone to stewing about life’s complications, large and small. Perhaps you’re the same?

I chose a Field Notes pocket notebook from an open pack and labeled it up.

Then I simply added start and end dates to the first page.

Now let’s get to the good stuff—the worries!

On the left-hand page, I list my current concerns—the stuff that’s bugging me. Each worry gets its own sequential number and a little checkbox. (Hand-drawn checkboxes bring me joy.)

This simple action makes it pretty darned clear which bothersome issues I have control over and which I do not. This realization is key to breaking the cycle of all of the mental grinding that wears me down. Those things over which I have no control are released to play out as they will. (Not always easy, I know!) Those things that I CAN control are tackled by taking action. Just noticing this distinction helps to clear my head, and gives me an illuminated path out of the fog of fear and anxiety.

On the right-hand page of the spread, I record the resolution (or progress) associated with each particular worry.

Some problems take longer to solve than others (Captain Obvious here!), so there may be multiple entries on the Resolution/Progress pages before a particular situation is fully resolved. In-progress worries for which action is being taken, get a diagonal line drawn across the checkbox to indicate that work is underway. Once a problem is fully resolved, the associated checkbox is completely filled in. Bye, bye worry!

Worries that are not at all under my control—typically having to do with other people—will get an “X” in the checkbox. I have no control over my mom’s eye surgery scheduled for July, so I’ll “X” that one out and release that worry. Again, easier to say than to do, but learning to let these things go gets somewhat easier with practice.

One more thing—starting from the back of the notebook, I record quotes and sayings that help me in anxious times—a little reference for boosting my mood and spirits.

I come upon these gems in books, on Instagram (e.g., Ryan Holiday), from wise and wonderful friends, from Stephen Brown’s videos on Stoicism, and from curated newsletters. Rather than letting the quotes and passages simply pass through my mind, I make a point of recording them for future use as there will always be troubling times and situations for which I’ll need perspective, comfort, and wisdom.

I have to say, I really love how this came together and how much it’s been helping me in just one week.

Are you a worrier, too? How do you tame the worry beast?


7 thoughts on “What, me worry?

  1. This is brilliant. Last year I read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to stop worrying and start living” which still contains plenty of sound strategies for managing anxiety, decades after it was published.
    Also I took part in a series of six online cognitive behavioural therapy sessions from a National Health Service agency in our borough. There were many tips to take away from this but the worry log idea was one of the topics and you have adopted that already. Simply identifying whether worries fall into the hypothetical category, or are something that you have any control over, is a good first step and you can let go of things which “may never happen”. There were many other tips – such as to improve your sleep patterns, exercise more, plan your time to get a balance of work rest and play (an analogy was a three legged stool), and many other tips. Making lists, and making progress (however small) on achieving something, is one that helps me.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this idea! I am a ruminator/worrier/pessimist, and I often get stuck in thinking that there’s no resolution to anything. I am super excited to start this in one of the many journals I already have (do not buy yourself a new notebook, profesorahb…)

  3. I definitely do worry a lot and pour all of that anxiety into a journal, but the thought of just structuring that instead of occasionally having an idea while journaling never crossed my mind. I might start experimenting with that later! I do have to ask though: why not put the start/end date in the inside of the cover where there are blank spaces just for them? 😛

    • That works on some covers but are hard to see on this dark blue one…and I always set up my pocket notebooks this way because they’re typically in a cover. Creature of habit…haha!!

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