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Prioritisation is a really helpful technique for when you feel overwhelmed with anxiety about lots of different things. When your mind is whirling and you don’t know where to start or what to do, quite often the advice is to try something calming or soothing, like meditation or a walk. Those things have their place but they don’t tackle the actual problem – which is what I think you need to do.

So if your mind is whirling and you’re feeling overwhelmed, try this:

  • Make a list of all the things you find yourself worrying about and then prioritise them – identify the ones that you think are most urgent and then the ones that are most important to you. Use a scale of 1 to 10 for Urgency, and A – Z for Importance.
  • You only have so much mental energy to go around, so allow yourself to focus purely on the things you have scored 1A, as those are the things that mean the most to you. There shouldn’t be more than one or two of these, if there are then go back and do your scoring again.
  • Now burrow down into each of your topics and work out which specific aspects of them concern you the most. For example, if you’re most anxious about the climate crisis, what specific aspect of it concerns you the most? Is it a lack of action from world leaders? The impact on wildlife? Or if you’re worried about coronavirus, what concerns you the most? Is it a lack of resources in the health services? The impact on the most vulnerable members of society? The long-term economic consequences? If you’re most anxious about your financial situation, what specifically worries you the most? Are your debts mounting and you don’t know what to do about it? Have you lost your job and had to claim benefits for the first time ever? Do you fear being unable to cope on 80% of your usual salary?
  • Once you have identified the specific things that worry you the most ask yourself what you personally can do to make an impact in that space, and then do it. So if you think world leaders aren’t doing enough, write to them. If you’re concerned about your local health services join a campaign group. If you’re worried about your finances, arrange to speak to a financial advisor. You may have to think creatively, and you will have to accept that you can’t solve anything on your own, but the more action you take the better you will feel, I guarantee it.

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