Worry Planner

Worrying about being worried is horrible. Worrying whether you’re worrying too much or not enough and losing track of your worries so all the things you could do to deal with them are overwhelming to even think about. So, here’s a way of getting some worries out of your head a bit and into a better place where they can still worry you, but you don’t need to worry about them as much.

First, you need someone reliable to remember each worry for you, made out of paper and definitely not alive. Here’s a sheet of my own which you can print out, or draw your own. Blobs with eyes will work fine. They need arms or something to hang on to things with, as worries do.

Cut them out – no need to be neat.

Pick a worry and write it on a beast. If none of mine suit your worry, feel free to write the worry on an unsuitable one and tell it off for being inadequate. It’s just paper, you can’t hurt it. And sometimes just saying that things aren’t right and suitable for you helps. Or you can tell it: I am sure you’ll grow to the task, thank you for doing this. See what feels best.

Make a few. No need to be exhaustive, you can always make more later.

Now you need a place to keep them. A sheet of paper makes a nice wall planner, if you want your worries to be where you can keep an eye on them.

Hook them on the top edge. Then write one thing you can do about the worry underneath each one. A manageable thing, probably not the solution (although sometimes there’s only one small thing that’s hard to do). Just one thing is fine.

No one can read the worry, it’s tucked away, you will remember what it is. They can just read your to-do list.

But if you’d rather have a private place for your worries, put them in a book instead. They’ll be fine in your notebook if you have one, or you could start a worry book just for them.

Cut a slot into the page about a third up (have a quick measure to check where the armpits are to make sure they fit, unless you enjoy them peeking out at the top).

Tuck them in. There. Cosy.

Again, just write one doable thing to do.

Now when you feel worried, you can look at the paper beasts. See? Yes. You have reasons to worry. That’s why you’re feeling bad. There are your worries. You’re keeping track of things. Good. And there are things you can do. So, do a thing and cross it out.

I like to scribble my items out so I can’t even read them once I dealt with them. I’m not trying to keep track of a project here. I just want to see that I am dealing with stuff. Draw a few stars, you earned some stars. Also they go with the scribbles. Maybe that page will fill with scribbled clouds and stars, if it’s an ongoing worry. See? You are dealing with things. You are alive and scribbling. Things are not just happening to you.

When you have scribbled out an item, look your worry beast in the eye and say something. At the very least: “Ha.” But maybe something like: “I am really looking forward to putting up the pictures in the new flat”, if you’re worried about finding a new flat, maybe. Pretend you are excited instead of scared. It’s easy to fool a piece of paper. Be angry. Gloat. Or be reassuring, tell it that it’ll be fine. Maybe you want to look after those little beasts who look after your worries. Just go with what makes you feel better. The paper can’t hear you, but your own thoughts are hearing what you’re saying, and saying it to someone, real or not, makes it stick.

After a while, some worries will stop being worries. Things will get resolved, or just stop bothering you. Then you can give the worry beast in question a new job. Scribble out the worry on its belly, or leave it there if it feels good to look at it now that it’s over.

Tame worries make good bookmarks. I keep mine in a jar on the bookshelf.