Put Your Anxiety on a Shelf

March 7, 2021

Categories: Anxiety

For some reason, I tend to struggle with anxiety more at night, when I’m trying to go to sleep. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something about lying in bed that allows my mind to wander toward all the unresolved things in my life. Whatever the reason, it’s frustrating. I know I need to sleep, but my anxiety is keeping me awake.

Anxiety and Fear

Part of the problem is that when I’m trying to get to sleep, I can’t really do anything about my anxiety. At its core, anxiety involves fear that something bad is going to happen. Usually if I do some work on the thing I’m concerned about, my anxiety dissipates. At night, however, there isn’t anything I can do about my problem. I’m stuck.

Put Your Anxiety on a Shelf

One idea that has been helpful for me is to put my anxiety on a shelf in my mind. In other words, I recognize the problem is something I need to deal with, but I also know I can’t do anything about it right now. So, I put it on a shelf in my mind, and plan to get to the problem the next day.

Write it Down

One action that helps me put my anxiety on a shelf is to write down the problem I’m feeling anxious about. In fact, I keep a notecard and pen by my bed for this very purpose. By writing down the thing I’m feeling anxious about, I know I will remember it the next day. I’m not trying to trick my mind into thinking I will get to it the next day—it’s right there on the “shelf” of my notecard.


What has helped you deal with your anxiety when there isn’t anything you can do right then in the moment to make progress on your problem?


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