Making Lists to Ease Anxiety

Surprisingly, one of the simplest actions that can help ease anxiety is making a list. Yes! Apparently making lists to ease anxiety has been around for a long time. I’ve always been a list kind of person–it was a necessity in coping with A.D.D. I’m getting off track a bit, but often women with A.D.D. are hyper-organized because from a young age we learn that is how we can function. I was diagnosed in my 40s, but have been meticulously organized since I was a child. Makes sense.

Back to the lists. There are several types of lists that can be helpful in dealing with anxiety. I’ll touch on two that I use on a regular basis and give you links to other resources and articles discussing the benefits of lists. Ready?

To-Do List

Possibly the most common is the To-Do List. It can be a daily, weekly, or monthly list. Beyond monthly, you’re likely goal setting or long-term planning, which is very beneficial also. This article in the Huffington Post notes that the act of planning a vacation can increase your happiness, and this article in Psychology Today discusses how making lists can lead to creativity. Just the act of writing your feelings on paper (not electronic) has a calming effect.

The short-term To-Do List relieves your mind of trying to remember all the things you need to do. Sounds simple, and it is! Just write down on paper the tasks you need to complete. Once that pressure of having to remember everything is gone, you’ll be able to think more clearly. Having your tasks on paper is helpful with organizing those items, thus you become more efficient. Win win!

Personally, I keep my To-Do List simple. If I find myself in long-term goal territory, I break that down into simpler tasks. For example, one of my goals is to paint my master bath. I could put that on my list, but that’s a large task that can be overwhelming. So I’ll add to my Monday list “choose color palette for bathroom.” On my Tuesday list “check paint supplies,” and on my Wednesday list “purchase 2 gallons paint and 3 roller covers.” Now I’m not paralyzed with indecision as to what to do first, and my plan is set into motion. Most importantly, my mind is clear because it’s all on my list.

Gratitude List

Next up is the Gratitude List. I’ve been doing this for about a year and I didn’t realize I was actually making a list–I thought I was journaling! Taking the time to acknowledge the positive things in your life, however large or small they may be, gets you to see the positive rather than dwell on the negative. Anxiety causes us to think the worst, or thinking the worst causes anxiety. Either way, a Gratitude List trains your brain to think positive.

I keep a journal on my nightstand, and each morning before I get out of bed I list three things I’m grateful for. It can be anything: I woke up, I have a home, I have heat. Just write three things that are good in your life at that moment.

At the end of the day I write at the bottom of that same page three things I am grateful for. This is different than my morning gratitude because I’ve had an entire day to experience more positivity. Maybe I had a great lunch, did well on a project, or got a call from a friend or family member. Again, anything goes as long it sparked happiness or gratitude.

The more you are grateful, the more positive you will become. The more positive you are, the more you’ll have to be grateful for. This is not an overnight fix, but if you make this part of your daily routine, you’ll likely see results. Try it!


  1. The act of writing your feelings on paper has a calming effect.
  2. Making a To-Do List helps clear the mind.
  3. Writing a daily Gratitude List will train your brain to be more positive.

If you feel you are dealing with anxiety, seek help from a medical professional first. I am not a medical professional of any sort. I am many things: a blogger, a human being with human experiences, a lover of makeup and lists, and as always, hopeful that you enjoy what you read here!