Tuesday Beauty Tips: Facts Versus How I Feel, a List Exercise to Help You Get Perspective When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed or Down

Published in: Beauty Tips, Just For Fun

The other day, I was feeling a little down, disorganized and overwhelmed by the projects on my plate, so I comandeered a big table at home, cleared it off, grabbed my biggest sketch pad and a pencil, and started putting everything down on paper.


By the end of it, I’d covered two 11” x 14” pages with mind maps and circled words and phrases with dozens of connections.

I also came up with a new productivity exercise (new to me) involving lists.

Now, you know I love me some lists. 🙂

I call this one, “Facts Versus How I Feel,” and it’s been very helpful for me. I hope you find it helpful, too.

How’d it come to pass?

I cannot recommend mind maps enough. I think they’re a great exercise when you’re faced with a challenging or difficult decision, or when you’re just completely overwhelmed.

I sat at that kitchen table for two hours, brainstorming and jotting down my thoughts, including everything I wanted to accomplish this month and over the first half of next year.

Long-term planning is not one of my strengths, but I’m hopeful that things like this will help me improve.

Anyway, one thing I realized over the course of that epic brainstorming session was how my emotions tend to color the way I perceive different tasks and situations.

What are we really talking about here?

Big surprise, but I’m kind of an artsy-fartsy person who likes to talk about her feelings. 🙂

I’m also very emotional, which can be a source of strength, but sometimes it’s also an obstacle. I’m often driven by my emotions, and if I’m feeling any sort of bad energy, like if I’m overwhelmed, frustrated or angry, it interferes with my ability to make rational decisions…

Which is a roundabout way of saying, “I become irrational.”

This exercise helps me sort things out.

What it can do for you

If your emotions sometimes also get the better of you, “Facts Versus How I Feel” might help you see a problem or situation more clearly, and maybe by changing your perspective, you’ll feel more in control.

How does it work?

When you’re feeling really agitated or fired up, grab something to write in/on (I like to use a notebook, but a smartphone or computer would also work) and a pen or pencil.

On two fresh pages in my notebook, I write the words “Facts” at the top of one of them and “How I Feel” at the top of the other.

On the “How I Feel” page, I write down all of the things I’m feeling, using short phrases like, “I’m tired,” or “I feel like crying.”

Then, on the “Facts” page, I write down all of the things I know to be true, like “I’ll calm down eventually,” and “I’ll feel better after I eat.”

How does this help? Well, I don’t really know why, but for some reason, it does, at least for me. Getting things down on paper and being able to see the two separate lists right there in front of me has been a huge help.

For example…

Last Friday was a long day for me, and by the time 7:30 at night rolled around, I’d been going at full speed since 6:30 in the morning. I was beat, fussy and about to throw a fit. Right before the first tears starting rolling down my cheek, I grabbed my notebook and made my lists.

Under “How I Feel,” I wrote…

  • I’m tired.
  • I’m cranky.
  • I’m hungry.
  • I’m tapped out.
  • I want to cry.
  • I’m frustrated.

And under “Facts,” I wrote…

  • I don’t have to do anything else for the rest of the night.
  • I’ll calm down eventually.
  • It’s okay to feel like crying, especially if you’ve been “on” for 13 hours.
  • I’ll feel better after I eat.
  • I’ll feel better after I shower and put on my pajamas.
  • If I have something to look forward to, that usually makes me happy.

I started calming down almost immediately after writing those lists. Fit averted.

After a quick bite to eat and a long, hot shower, I put on jammies and parked my butt on the couch. Then, I watched TV for a couple hours and looked up movie times for the following day, so that I had something fun to look forward to (I watched Argo, BTW, and it was great!).

To be honest, normally, if I hadn’t done my lists, I probably would’ve cried for at least an hour before calming down enough to get anything else done. What’s worse, I probably would’ve been cranky anyway for the rest of the night.

These “Facts Versus How I Feel” lists have been a boon for me lately, and I hope they help you, too.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Liliane says:

    Karen, I’m definitely going to try this sometime! I’m a junior, which is arguably the most stressful year of high school and it’s taking a toll on me for sure! Your post could not have come at a better time :).
    I have actually found that making lists helps me, too. If I know I have a lot of things to do, it’s often really beneficial to just write down all the tasks that need to get done. It really puts things in perspective and lets me take a step back and plan.
    Thanks for sharing your new exercise!
    Liliane recently posted … Advent 2012: Day 3

  2. Katie says:

    I’m gonna try this sometime. I love lists, too. I CANNOT organize my thoughts without seeing everything written down. It’s actually what I’m doing right now, figuring out end-of-the-semester deadlines and goings-on the next two weeks. Le Sigh.

    To offer a bit of my own writing-related “Tuesday Tip” – I still keep in touch with one of my former professors, and after a particularly stressful time, he made me send him a weekly short email (usually Monday). I write him two things: 1) What I did for fun the previous week, and 2) at least one fun activity I can look forward to doing at the end of the week. For those of you who are super busy like me, this simple exercise really puts your priorities in perspective. It also motivates you to work hard that week for that “reward.”

    Off-topic, Karen — you and Tabs MUST see (and will appreciate) this: http://intothegloss.com/selects/2012/11/tgif-vanity-fur-cats-vanity-fair/

  3. I need to do this. I’ve been feeling rather irrational lately too-everything seems to be pushing my buttons lately. And then I can’t let go of it either. Sigh. I will try this-at least it will help me talk it out in my head and sort things out.
    P.S.-WHERE’D you get the pink dinosaur from?? He’s cute! Reminds me of when my daughter was little-she’d draw all over her dinosaurs giving them makeup and lipstick hahaha!
    Tracy@Beauty Reflections recently posted … Beauty In The Bitter COLD with Russell Organics, Korres, Avon and more!

  4. musical says:

    I do something similar to analyze my feeling and thoughts AND to put everything in perspective! It’s a neat little exercise, which doesn’t cost a thing and is immensely rewarding!


  5. Chris El says:

    Thanks for writing this post Karen. With the holidays around the corner and winter travels coming up soon for me, it’s been a little hard to keep myself organized, thoughts included. This is a great exercise to keep things in perspective while trying to stay calm and collected.
    Chris El recently posted … Burberry Dark Spice Dramatic FOTD

  6. Melissa says:

    I am really going to do this, thank you so much for posting it! This past year has been really tough for me. I didn’t get into my preferred uni so I took a year out which has worked out for the better but with no money and nothing to do with my time apart from search for jobs and getting nowhere, I’ve felt so lost. And lonely because all my friends and my twin sister have gone off to uni and have started to live their lives to the full. The good news is that I volunteer at a couple of kids clubs and have really loved it and I was offered a position in the Civil Service just a couple of weeks ago! However, I still don’t have a start date because there’s so much paperwork to do before I can be officially hired and I’m so worried that I’ll be incompetent or they’ll hate me or it’ll all fall through and I’ll be back where I started or something! Anyway I hope that this will help and it’s a relief knowing someone else has those moments too! Thank you again, Karen, your blog always makes me see the bright side!

    • Krisabelle says:

      Hi Melissa! I felt compelled to respond to your post as I was in a similar situation about 12 (AHHHH! Where’d the time go?!) years ago. I waited a year before I went to college; I didn’t actually decide that I wanted to go until after the application deadlines so I decided to wait to save up money. I had a FT job at the time but it was hard because most of my close friends had gone away to college, leaving me feeling a little behind. I did go the next year and met tons of friends and had a brilliantly fun time. Unfortunately, I could not pass the rigorous math requirements (I was doing well in everything else) and was forced to leave school shortly into my 2nd year. I appealed the decision and fully believed I would be allowed to come back and re-take the math course I’d been unable to pass previously. I still remember the day I received the answer to my appeal, all these years later. The university had denied it and I would have to either transfer to a 2 year community college for 1 year, pass the math course, and then transfer back, or wait 2 YEARS and re-apply at the school I’d been going to. I was devastated. I had never imagined being told I couldn’t return. I was crushed and heartbroken, and felt like a failure. I got a job as a server and met a lot of people my own age and started to have fun again. As time passed, I heard less and less from my friends I’d made at school and at first, that was so hard; knowing that I was being forgotten because they were busy moving forward with their education and having fun with other friends at college. I eventually got a FT job as an administrative assistant and had a full calendar of fun things to do with friends I’d met since leaving college. As a bonus, some of my friends that had kept in touch during college graduated and moved back home (where I was working FT) and we started to hang out a lot. This long tale is just to let you know you’re not alone and that you will get through it. Try not to beat yourself up when you feel “behind” your friends because the course you’re on will be the right one for you in the end. I hope you get to start the Civil Service position soon and you meet tons of cool people there! Hang in there and good things will happen! 🙂

      Karen, thank you so much for posting this! This is so helpful and something I will not only try but share with friends. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during the holidays when it seems everyone’s To Do List triples every time you turn around! Thanks again so much for all you do!

      Lots of love!

      • Melissa says:

        Hi Krisabelle! Thank you so much for your reply! It made me feel so much better knowing that you’ve gone through a similar situation and you’ve had a happy ending! What you described is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I’m glad everything has worked out so well for you in the end. Thank you so much for your kind words and support!! 😀

        Melissa xx

  7. Deidre says:

    I actually have that same little pink dinosaur….. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to start a makeup blog. However, I can’t afford many of the nicer brands(I’m 14, so 5$ is like a lottery jackpot) and I don’t have a camera to upload any pictures with. Any advice? (P.S Could you review some Bonnebell products in the future? It’s a pretty inexpensive brand, and they have some rather nice lipgloss.)

    • Amiee says:

      Hey Deidre! I know I’m not Karen but I thought I’d respond anyway. If you want to make a blog, go for it! It’s a lot of fun (I have one although I haven’t posted recently) and many others your age are in the same boat as you. Review the makeup you can afford right now. Tell your friends to read and they may tell their friends and so on. Google has images for everything so that’s a good place to start when you don’t have a camera (just make sure you link back to the original). If you start a blog now, you can hone your writing skills and get into the groove of blogging and then when you’re older and can afford more expensive brands, you’ll already be a seasoned blogger! Don’t give up and good luck! 🙂

  8. S says:

    Such a great idea! I really need to do this. Maybe I’ll actually start being more productive…
    S recently posted … One Hand Washes the Other Black Magic Cream Cleanser Review, Photos

  9. YadiQ says:

    add to your facts that you are amazing to a bunch of others – cause its true.

    i do these “rationalization” exercises often. whether its venting to a physical being or to myself in the shower

    going to try the list technique!


  10. Vanessa says:

    I love mind maps. I’ll try this sometime.

    Thanks for sharing, Karen.

  11. Kayleigh says:

    Aww I’m sorry to hear you get so stressed you feel like crying! But I’m glad you have a great way to cope with it!! I think adding “I can snuggle with Tabs to feel better” would be a good thing to put on the list! It’s what I’d do 🙂

  12. Carina says:

    O_O I love this exercise. I also have a tendency to become irrational only to regret it moments later, so this is actually something that could work. Thank you Karen! <3

  13. Sarah says:

    This is so useful, Karen! I often make lists, but they are awful and boring and after making them, I usually avoid looking at them because they kind of stress me out, which is so antithetical to how helpful lists can be in the first place! Phew. I’m in grad school right now, and I’m a bit of a basket case because of the stress, isolation, lack of “fun stuff,” etc. I think writing these kinds of lists will help me keep things in perspective and might also help me separate my (very justified) feelings from the facts. Thank you!!

  14. Linda says:

    Thank you…this is the “beauty” part of your blog! Thank you for sharing.

  15. Jennifer S says:

    Thank you for this post. I won’t sit here and type up all the reasons why this post helped but just know that it did. And know that you have helped me make it through many tough days.

  16. Katherine G says:

    Thanks for posting this! I realized when I kept a journal or made lists, I was able to keep my emotions in check a lot more. I’ve been a lot better, but it’s taken a lot of work to be as calm and collected as I am about most things now. I still have points where my emotions get the better of me, but who doesn’t? It’s a constant work in progress and none of us are perfect.

    Some things that have helped me: yoga (no lie, I started doing yoga again after a 3 year hiatus because of school, and I feel calmer and emotions don’t rule how I act on certain things), thinking about why I’m frustrated/angry/about to cry (kind of like your lists, but making the list in my head), being around positive people (I realized when I was going through some bad times, and wasn’t happy, my friends that had more negative outlooks were better friends then rather than now that I’m much more positive), and, learning that I am in charge of my happiness (I have learned that I can’t let family’s opinions or friends’/coworkers’ opinions of my career, life and future career get to me. I am doing this career because this is what I am meant to do to continuing helping people. ).

    This post has probably helped a lot of people, so thanks again for posting 🙂

  17. Bethany says:

    You just described me last Friday night. I’m definitely going to try this.

  18. Marina says:

    Making a list is always a good idea, I always right everything down when I am overwhelmed by the things I have to do and figure out what has to be done NOW and what can wait.
    Also, no matter how many devises I have, I always love using a good ol’ notebook and a black (!) pen. Works for me 🙂
    Marina recently posted … SACHAJUAN Volume Shampoo Review

  19. Kim says:

    I’m so glad that you’ve found this to help you to feel better. Just for some comic relief, I must tell you that I laughed out loud picturing myself, feeling frustrated, and grabbing a smartphone instead of a notebook. With my phone keyboard skills, I would have that thing smashed on the floor after about 10 seconds and I’d be even MORE frustrated. HAHA!

  20. Nina says:

    I used to do this as part of my former job. It really works, and I think its effectivity lies in the fact that when you put everything down on paper, its all more manageable and doable.

    It is easy to get overhwelmed, but having an organized list makes everything better.

  21. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing, Karen. It’s nice to see you blogging about things like this… about lacking creativity or feeling overwhelmed by the massive amounts of items on your to-do list. You’re basically wonderwoman to me, and I’m constantly amazed at your writing skills and how you manage to do something new and exciting every day. You were the first blog I ever started to read, and you were the reason I started my own blog so I just wanted to let you know that you’re an incredible inspiration. It’s helpful to know your coping techniques… because I definitely feel ‘alone’ when I’m going through mine and I never know how to really get out of it. Keep your head up high girl- we’re almost through 2012! 😀
    Jessica recently posted … [Gift Guide] The Girly Girl

  22. I needed this post Karen! Thank you so much!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … The favorites tag ~ Your favorite pink blush

  23. Janelle says:

    I find this extremely helpful information. I only wish I had read this two days ago lol.. Could have avoided a meltdown earlier. Thanks for the tip.

  24. Mei says:

    Great exercise Karen! I sometimes feel like crying for no apparent reason, and this seems like a great way to keep the emotions in check! I hope you have a great rest of the week! Love your blog more and more each day!!!


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