Mad, Sad, Afraid, Glad

But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.
— Anne Frank

About a decade ago, a physical therapist recommended a technique to help with emotions. We all have emotions, and at times they seem to pile up becoming too heavy to carry. This technique is relatively easy to do, and should only take six minutes max.

You will need:

  • piece of paper

  • pen/pencil

  • timer (I use my phone)

Go to a relatively quiet location (I find this works best), and set your timer for one minute. Sit down, relax, and once ready with pen and paper in front of you, begin.


As soon as the timer starts ticking, write down the first thing that comes to mind having to do with what made you mad today or recently. Keep going until the minute stops.

It helps to use the phrase, “I am mad…”. Examples include: “I am mad the dog ate my shoe.” “I am mad so-and-so was late for lunch.” “I am mad I was late to work.”

sad nature.jpg

As soon as the timer rings, finish your sentence and stop. You can take a thirty second break, or keep going. Next is sad. Use the same formula, but replace mad with sad.

Examples include: “I am sad Aunt Tilly is sick.” “I am sad Fred passed away.” “I am sad I did not get a pay raise.”


Once the timer stops, quit writing about sad. Take a thirty second break if you please. Then go to the next emotion: afraid.

Examples include: “I am afraid of getting fired.” “I am afraid…” Sometimes the thoughts can be personal, which is why I tend to do this in a quiet place where I can be alone.

Yellow Monochrome --

End the exercise with the word glad. Examples include: “I am glad it was sunny today.” “I am glad lunch was delicious.” Whatever made you glad today or within the last few days. Stop as soon as timer rings, and you are finished. Feel free to throw away the paper (I always do).

The order given (mad, sad, afraid, glad) is the method to use. Jumbling everything around and picking whatever emotion comes to mind first doesn’t seem as effective. If you find otherwise, feel free to leave a comment.

Note: You can set your timer and say the words instead of writing them down on paper.

I have been doing this off and on for years. Usually writing rather than saying anything aloud. You may want to start by trying it daily for awhile, then do again whenever you please.

When first started, skepticism was a given. Could something so simple work? For me, it is a bit of a catharsis. I tend to utilize this when feeling overburdened with emotions or thoughts.

Sometimes the first thought to come to mind associated with an emotion surprises me. Try not to be judgmental. Every time I finish, the small satisfaction of simply tearing up the paper and throwing everything away is a bonus.

I do not know who invented this. If any reader does, please tell me so I can give credit. Thank you.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to constitute as medical advice, just sharing something beneficial to me.