UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


I am overthinking and becoming anxious

When I haven’t got a routine or things to look forward too, I find it easy to start overthinking and become anxious. Distraction has always been a key in helping me get out of my own head - but now that I can’t leave my house and I left all my hobby supplies in my university accommodation – I am finding it hard to distract myself from these anxieties in a productive and creative way.

How do I stay out of falling into bad habits and negative thought processes during a time when routine and distraction is virtually non-existent? 


A Student


Reply from DClinPsy Trainee Pandora

Thank you for sharing with us your struggle. This is indeed a time that our usual way of managing life is being challenged, and our creativity is most needed. Given the circumstances, it is natural to feel a bit more anxious. We can also feel a bit frustrated that we might not be as productive as we would like to be. It is important to acknowledge how difficult things have been, and to give yourself credit for keep on trying despite the challenges.

As you have pointed out that things seem to get more difficult as our normal routines are disrupted, so a good place to start is to create a balanced timetable to structure our days.

In your timetable, you can:

    1. Adapt things that you used to enjoy
      1. for example, having indoors workout in place of gym, or virtual pub quiz instead of night out
    2. Introduce new things that you would like to try
      1. For activity ideas:
        - weekly and monthly creative challenge (http://dothinkshare.com/)
        - creative isolation resource page (https://www.marchnetwork.org/creative-isolation)
        - creativity wheel on our page
    3. Schedule in a “worry time”
      1. Dedicate 30 minutes (avoid before bedtime) a day for your worries
      2. During the day if you notice your worries pop up, you can tell yourself that “I notice that this thought comes up, it is interesting. I will take note of it and think about it later during my worry time”
    4. Have a screen-off time and relaxation activity
      1. Avoid looking at the screen before bedtime to improve sleep quality
      2. Use apps like Calm or Soundcloud for relaxation exercises

The priority during this time is to take good care of ourselves and not necessarily to put pressure on ourselves to strive. I hope you can approach these new ideas with this in mind, and that you might find this helpful.