How to send your worries on their way

Why on earth would someone write something down, then throw it away, and be pleased they’d done so?

Jenny G. from Bristol in the UK has the answer, and she’s more than happy for me to pass it on.


You see, Jenny – perhaps at times like you? – finds herself worrying about all kinds of stuff.

Listen to her describe it: “For me it’s always worst in the middle of the night. I fall asleep with no problem, but then for some unknown reason wake up around 2am and the dreaded anxieties start creeping in – then quickly begin FLOODING in. The thoughts go round and round, getting worse and worse. My chest feels tight. Sleep is impossible. I hate it!”

Jenny found something that works for her, though. She keeps a pad of paper and a pen by the side of her bed, and as her worrying thoughts start to overwhelm her, she writes them down.

“I have a little flashlight by the bed just for this purpose so I don’t disturb my husband more than I have to,” she told me.

Once Jenny’s worries are, literally, transferred to the paper, she quietly screws it up into a tight ball and tosses it away from her into the corner of the room. Settling back down again, remarkably she’s soon sleeping like a baby.

Jenny admits her friends thought it sounded a bit loopy when she told them about this, but they soon changed their minds when they tried it for themselves – not only in the middle of the night, but whenever anxiety loomed ominously.

I think what’s going on for Jenny is that she’s smartly discovered that when she writes down her worries, she acknowledges them, rather than trying to bury them. Attempting to ignore anxiety scarcely ever works.

Then, by screwing up the paper and literally throwing it away, she tells herself that she actively chooses not to be disturbed by such unwanted thoughts.

Maybe a similar strategy could work for you? Why not give it a try?

And perhaps Jenny’s story reminds you of some ingenious mood strategy you’ve discovered yourself, which you wouldn’t mind me writing up and passing on? I’d love to hear about it, by email please to

7 thoughts on “How to send your worries on their way

  1. A similar technique I have to this is to imagine putting the thoughts into a box then shutting it and throwing it away. It works well for me.

  2. A great idea but am very concerned about the throwing part waking up the other person in the room! Writing stuff down is always good for me!

  3. Apparently washing your hands works in a similar way when you want to “move on” from an difficult or grubby issue (as used by Pontius Pilate of course), or “wash that man right out of my hair”. You feel better afterwards. I think it’s called embodiment of emotions. Metaphorical actions actually are helpful it seems.

  4. If you can afford a ‘Voice recorder’ ( dictaphone ) speak the worry into it, and then answer yourself iinto it, as if it’s a very good friend answering you … ( and then playback when you are alone ? )

  5. how funny it is that this came up when last night at 4 am I did the same thing. Journeling is so theraputic. My boyfriend cheated on me so I haven’t been able to sleep at all, but journeling my feelings helps me grieve and release them. I’m even thinking of burning some of the pages once im over it just as a final release.

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