November 19, 2013

Stressed? Write it Down

“When you’re lost and alone, and you’re sinking like a stone… carry on.”

While Monday was a day when it seemed like I just kept getting lucky with things going right, today was one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days where I got so stressed out that I wanted to go cry in the office bathroom. Evidently I wasn’t the only one…

WashingTina on Crying at Work

Finally, though, the day is over – so while I still have some work to do, I can at least do it from the comfort of my hotel room. (Which means it’s now my party and I can cry if I want to, though I’ve finally regained control of my emotions so that probably won’t be necessary.) However, while talking to one of my best friends who is similarly stressed and short on sleep, I gave him the following instruction, which I’ll now share with all of you.

Stressed? Write Down Your Problems
Original image credit: Prayitno Photography

Okay, so this tip is a totally simple one that a lot of you probably already do, but it honestly helps me a lot so I thought I’d throw it out there. Always, always, always keep a pen and paper (or better yet, your to-do list) next to your bed. When you’re tossing and turning and your brain starts thinking of ALL THE THINGS in the middle of the night, you can write them down. Whether you’ve actually solved them or not, writing them down can make your brain feel like they’re temporarily solved, so that you can get back to sleep… and wake up rested and ready to actually tackle them.

Writing down your emotions has been scientifically proven to help the healing processes, both mental and physical. And if you want to get all woo-woo about it, you can even try an old trick my mom told me about when I was a little kid: write down your biggest problem or greatest goal on a piece of paper, then put it under your pillow. The idea is that your subconscious mind will then be thinking about it when you actually drift off to sleep, and the solution will come to you in your dreams. When I was a little kid and wrote down “how do I win the lottery?” on my scrap of paper, I can’t say that it worked for me… but I do think it has some merit if you’re trying to come up with a creative solution to a more realistic problem 🙂

Last night, I was having one of those stressful nights where I just kept worrying and worrying about something… until I finally decided to just send the damn email to start fixing the source of the problem, and then was able to fall asleep right away. Ever since I switched to my super detailed to-do list system, I’ve found that I have far fewer sleepless nights because I can write down all the tiny little minutiae that go whirling through my brain. By identifying your problems and pinpointing what’s bugging you, you can actually decrease your stress, since identifying the problem is half the battle in finding a solution. (Or sometimes, when you see your problems in the broad light of day and are in a clearer frame of mind, you realize that they’re not that bad and you were worried for nothing.)

And if you happen to go to bed after a night of drinking? New “anecdotal research” suggests that pen/paper can still come in handy… if only for giving you a good laugh 😉


2 thoughts on “Stressed? Write it Down”

  1. I love it when all of those things come together when you send an email out, BUT I am the type of person who dreads (and I mean HATES!) to then get a response to an email that I poured a lot of time and effort into. 9 times of out 10 the issue is not much of an issue, except in my head and the response is fine. But I have so much invested in it. Anyway, sorry you had a bad day. If it helps, I have cried two nights and 1 day in the past 3 days (luckily the day was a weekend and NOT at work). Turns out, starting a new job, buying a house and planning a (albeit super small) wedding are really, REALLY stressful. All things that should be good! Writing is always the solution in my mind, too 🙂

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