How running commentary helps me with anxiety, driving and writing


Running commentary is an amazing tool, not just for life, but for writing as well. I can’t remember who taught me this or when I started, but it’s something I do on a daily basis.

For Anxiety

I have this problem that my mind tends to wander and focus on negative thoughts. This happens when I’m waiting for the bus, walking during lunch, or even while at work! I start thinking about something bad that happened to me 10 years ago and how it’s ruined my life and how I can’t do anything right and it just keeps going and going until I’m all riled up and become anxious. Over absolutely nothing important.


One way to stay focused is to remain grounded in the moment. And I do that by observing every single detail around me.

Example while waiting for the bus: The man beside me is old and wearing a tan leather coat. His pants are tucked into his boots. A young woman stands on my other side with the hood of her Canada Goose jacket pulled up over her head. I can hear someone’s headphones blaring music, it sounds like really good techno music. A crack runs across the pavement in the bus platform. The tree across the platform is losing it’s leaves. A red bird sits on the highest branch. It tweets every few minutes. And here comes the bus.

The key is to constantly observing your surroundings. It works to stop my mind from wandering towards miserable thoughts.

While Driving

My driving instructor taught me running commentary to help me calm down while driving. It’s the simple act of observing everything around me in the car and keeping me focused on the cars around me. Instead of being a passive driver, I become an active driver.

Example: I’ve turned into the street. I am in the left lane, now I am switching lanes into the right lane. I glance into my rearview mirror and there’s a red car. He accelerates and I signal and merge after he’s passed. As I approach the intersection the light is green and the way is clear. A pedestrian stands at the corner but doesn’t cross. The car in front of me is slowing down, I might change lanes. Check the left lane but no, it’s full, I’ll just stay here.

And Finally, Writing.

Using running commentary keeps me always observing my surroundings. This helps while writing to ground a scene with key details. You don’t have to throw in every single detail about the bus platform, but one or two main details will help the reader visualize the scene in their minds. It’s also really helped me while describing characters, whether it’s the tan coat or the socks being tucked into the socks. Key details can say a lot about a character’s personality.

I know that I need to stop overthinking, and I’m working on it through positive affirmations and mindfulness meditations, but in the meantime, I’m trying to use it to my advantage.

These Things Only Happen to Me #8756 aka There Must Be A Story In That #4445

When someone asks me to list the weirdest thing that happened to me and I’m taken back to the time we had multiple spies working in our office and our boss left and we went out for drinks and he was Irish and obsessed with Whiskey shots and we sat there doing whiskey shots and then my coworker noticed that one of the guys from our department kept tossing his shots over his shoulder instead of drinking it…

Cheaper Gas: Is it worth it?

I was driving in an area I don’t usually go to (Weston/401), and stumbled upon a gas station with prices listed a full 4 cents below the usual gas station I fill up at.

My reaction:


I know it’s only 4 cents. But since the price of everything else is starting to creep up, I’m slowly learning that every penny counts. My heartbeat accelerated and hope surged through my veins. Is this it? Have I found the glorious secret gas station that has actual cheaper gas?

I get out of my car and start filling up my car. As I’m standing there, a giant SUV pulls up to the pump beside me. A woman gets out and starts pumping her own gas. All normal, right?

I thought so. Until I heard shouting coming from a truck driver who was parked off to the side.

“Hey, lady! What are you doing???”

Completely oblivious, I glance around. Me? Is he talking to me? I’m just pumping gas. Am I doing it wrong?

It takes me a few seconds to realize he isn’t shouting at me. He leaves his truck and starts waving wildly at the woman across from me. “You can’t do that, are you crazy?”

By now, I’ve filled up my car and am heading into the booth to pay for my gas. That’s when I notice a giant pool of gas collecting under the woman’s car in the gas bay right beside me!

Truck Driver Guy is still shouting at her. She’s shouting back at him. “My gas tank has a tiny hole in it, I just need to fill up as much as I can to drive to get it fixed!”

Lady. That is more than just a tiny hole


She’s literally pumping gas into a tank that is emptying the gas onto the pavement under her car!

I get inside and the truck driver’s friend runs in, shouting at the attendant. “You’d better get sand out there, this lady’s leaking gas everywhere!” They run outside, leaving me no choice but to toss my cash onto the counter, jump into my car, and floor it before the entire place blows up from a spark.


Lesson learned: things are cheaper for a reason. And it’s not always worth it to drive ten minutes further just to get cheaper gas if it means having to deal with crazy drama.