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I don’t know about you guys, but the fall semester has officially begun at my school. It’s been two days of class, and I’m already very stressed about everything.

But it did get me thinking about how much anxiety surrounds the academic year.

College students are eternally busy. We have class, work, school work to do outside of class, social lives, clubs, and plenty of other commitments. Without paying attention, anxiety can swallow you whole.

It’s really important to remember to look out for signs of anxiety and know how to cope with them. One of the ways that I like to calm my anxiety is by making lists.

Related: How to Organize Stress

“Say what?”

I know, it sounds weird. (Let’s be real, most of the things I write kind of sound weird, lol.) But hear me out! I’m gonna walk you through the 5 lists that you should make when you’re feeling anxious.

Lists to Make When You're Anxious

1. Brain Dump

What in the heck is a brain dump?

I’m glad you asked.

Basically, a brain dump is when you write down literally every single possible thing that’s on your mind. It’s not a fancy list, and it shouldn’t have to be organized at all. (At least not right away.)

Write down everything. Errands to run, assignments to get done, phone calls you to make, or things you have to get done around the house are all great examples. Just write it all down.

Seeing on paper is so great because it allows you to get rid of the chaos going on inside your head.

That’s just the first step, though! There totally is a way to take this to the next level.

Look at your list, and prioritize what is most important. Think of what you have to get done in the next 24 hours.

Get those things done first. 

When you get that set of stuff done, move on to what’s important after that.

Managing a system like this is great because anxiety makes you overthink and worry about too much at once. When you prioritize things visually, you can get a lot more done without your head swimming!

2. A Done List

I love the idea of done lists. They’re so great.

A done list is essentially when you write down all of the things you’ve already accomplished. Why in the heck would you want to do that?

Because anxiety has a wonderful way of making us feel like we’re not getting anything done. When you write a done list, you can see the things that you’ve already accomplished and it reminds you that you’re still getting shit done!

Make sure that you write down things both big and small. Let’s be honest, we don’t accomplish big goals on a daily basis. We accomplish the little ones.

Write down if you got out of bed a little earlier, if you took a shower before noon, or if you had a healthy dinner when the last three meals were chicken nuggets and Coke. (All three of those would be on my done list, tbh.)

Mikaela from jamimico.com has a great post about how she uses a done list, so check it out!

Lists to Make When You're Anxious

3. Favorite Songs

This a list that I really recommend you keep somewhere in your planner or bulletin board.

I don’t know about you, but when I try and find music to listen to, I usually forget like every song I’ve ever heard and end up listening to the same five artists all the time. (Which is really annoying, because I love music and have a heavy music background!)

So having a list that you can look at of your favorite songs is a great resource to help calm anxiety!

I love listening to classical music or jazz fusion when I’m stressed, so I recommend finding your favorite artists or genres and making a playlist out of them. Use music that either calms you or makes you happy.

Have it on repeat when anxiety is knocking on your door.

4. Favorite Things to Do

Again, this might just be a me thing, but I have a tendency to forget what things make me happy when my stress gets really high.

I love keeping a list in my planner of what I like to do for self-care so when my anxiety is spiking, I have a reference.

Making one of these lists in the middle of your anxiety can be really helpful, too! It can help get your mind off of things and take you to a better, happier place in your head.

If you need help thinking of self-care ideas, read my post here with a bunch of them!

5. Gratitude

Finally, make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Finding gratitude in your life at a time outside of Thanksgiving is really important.

It reminds you of what you have, the things you’ve made it through, and where you are going.

This, again, doesn’t have to be of things that are mega super important or big. Oftentimes things on my gratitude list are very simple and even a little silly.

Here’s an example of a gratitude list I would have:

  • my boyfriend. He makes me laugh every day and we have a healthy relationship.
  • going to college. I’m accomplishing a dream of mine and making memories!
  • potatoes. I love potatoes so much and I’m glad they can exist and be my favorite food.
  • my best friends. I don’t know where I’d be without them and they are huge part of my life.
  • the world. It gives me opportunities to travel and experience new things.
  • my planner. If I didn’t have my planner, I’d be a hot mess, so thank goodness I have it.

Do you see how there was a variety of things? Try it out!

Pro tip: I use a horizontal Happy Planner as a daily journal (which you can find here!), and I use the monthly layout as a way to track daily gratitude. I highly recommend it! 

Find the time for lists to make when you’re anxious!

Seriously, it can really help. Tell me in the comments below what other lists you would make!

Sierra Mafield Blog