The power of the written word when you’re constantly worrying.

Helen Redfern
3 min readSep 6, 2023

Writing it all down helps.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I thought when I hit my forties I’d start to worry less. I’d be more together and more confident and discover the small stuff isn’t worth sweating about.

But here I am. I’d like to say in my mid-forties, but who am I kidding? I’m forty-seven and yesterday sent a text to my friend after a particularly stressful period had come to an end.

I wrote: “Last night I was completely overwhelmed and couldn’t sleep. Lots of stress is finally over so I’m now stressing about the small stuff and listing it all in my head. Why am I doing this? It’s over!”

My friend knew exactly what I was talking about. “Why do we always find so many things to stress about???”

Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about generalised anxiety disorder here. I’ve been there and it’s awful. I’m not talking about actual stress either even though myself and my friend have used the word in our messages.

I’m just talking about intentionally filling my head with worries and never allowing myself to fully relax.

What I’m worrying about is what the internet would call ‘first-world problems’. I know I’m lucky in many senses of the word. But that doesn’t stop my head from catastrophising small issues that can go wrong, worrying what companies or people will think if I don’t do something immediately, getting annoyed when so many little things seem to be going wrong throughout the day and thinking it’s personal.

Even on holiday during the summer my mind was full of ‘what ifs’. What if this goes wrong? What if this person does x? It was never-ending.

I’d lost all hope of ever having a peaceful head when I decided to pull my phone out of my bag and open up the notes function.

I then listed all my worries and came up with some worst-case scenario planning should my worries come true.

And that’s when I saw, in black and white how ridiculous my worries were. How irrational I was being. How I was worrying about an event before it even happened. And should it actually happen — well, there were various options at my disposal. I was not a sitting duck. I had choices.



Helen Redfern

Notebook addict, writer and mentor. Helping creatives struggling with confidence around their writing and creativity.