The Perks of List-Making: Calming Anxiety

list-makingPeople love lists. List-making brings order to chaos, help us remember things, relieve stress, keep procrastination at bay, and focus the mind. Completing a list item brings a sense of accomplishment, as people take their pens out, and cross it off. Here are six great benefits of lists:

  1. List-making provides us with a positive psychological process, helping us to work through questions and confusions—true purposes often surface when lists are made.[1]
  2. List-making helps us to foster a capacity to select and prioritize, which is perfect in situations where there is an information overload.1
  3. List-making helps us to separate what is trivial from what is important—good for identity and achievement.1
  4. List-making helps us to determine the steps needed to take to achieve a goal, informing direction and plan.1
  5. List-making helps combat avoidance—taking the abstract to concrete sets the stage for action, especially if deadlines are added.1
  6. List-making helps us organize ourselves and contain our inner chaos, helping life seem more manageable.1

With so much information flooding you, it is easy to become reactive, rather than proactive.1 You can’t breathe, you can’t sleep—you are stressed to the max. This is why people who are naturally anxious, or are going through a particularly stressful time in life, often benefit greatly from lists. You conquer stressors one step at a time, and lists allow you to write out those steps and prioritize them. Simply having them written down allows your overwhelmed mind to take a breath, and referring back to the list over the course of the day, guides you in the direction needed to get through a situation. At the end of the day, with many things crossed off the list, you are able to relax a bit more and feel as though you have accomplished what is needed—which you have. In the end, a list can make you feel proactive, grounded, calm, and clear—the opposite of anxious and stressed—making them a great way to combat those negative feelings.1

Lists shouldn’t be a chore—they should be fun. A list shouldn’t be something boring to look at—there are many ways to make a lists, and this skill provides an opportunity to be creative.1 Pick up some paper that makes you feel peaceful or happy or fun. Use a color pen that isn’t associated with drudgery. Print your lists in different fonts, make them on a fun app on your phone. Do whatever you can to make the lists something that you don’t dread looking at. According to Ethel Person, M.D., when we entwine pleasure with duty, we are much more productive.1

Let a list provide you with inner solace and motivation.1 Let it help you calm your anxiety and stress.

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