How to calm your anxiety (so you can write again)

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to calm your anxiety…

If worry and concern over the pandemic has affected your writing, consider ways in which you might be able to help yourself.

Cognitive psychotherapist Lindsey Antin offers some excellent advice in a recent blog post running under the headline, “Three tips for wise minds to calm coronavirus anxiety.”

Her tips are simple and straightforward:

  • Structure your time
  • Take a news break
  • Create thought charts

The first two tips are easy understand at a glance, but let me delve into the third one in a little more detail. Antin is talking about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT.

Here’s how Antin puts it: Thought charts help you look at the thoughts you have about yourself, your future, and the world around you—and see what messaging you’re giving yourself based on these thoughts. For example, at this time many of us are looking at the world around us and telling ourselves we ought to be afraid, and speculating on worst-case scenarios.

However, we can’t know the future, and with practice we can learn that this repetitive messaging is not productive for our lives. We can acknowledge the truth of our thoughts (if evidence supports it) and then add our own choice of response that includes two things: self-compassion and a plan of action.

I’ve written about CBT for writers and I encourage you to reread that post now, to see if there’s any way in which CBT might be able to help you. (I bet there is!)

Finally, I echo Antin’s recommendation of the book Mind Over Mood. It’s a truly excellent source.