Do you find that you spend too much time excessively worrying? Well, you are not alone. People who struggle with anxiety issues may sometimes have excessive, chronic anxiety and worry that impair their everyday functioning. Chronic worriers may try to control the worry by avoiding the real issues that they are worried about. They may try to engage in thought control by suppressing these thoughts, thought stopping, or engaging in distraction. Assigning a specific time of your day as “worry time” helps to address cognitively avoiding your problems.
Worry time is a useful Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tool which exposes you to worry thoughts and shows you that worrying is not dangerous. I have outlined a number of steps below to show you how to implement worry time.
How do I implement worry time?
- Begin by selecting a time of day that you would like to allocate as your worry time. You may want to start by creating 15 – 20 minutes some time during the day to designate for this task (e.g., 4pm every day). Try not to allocate worry time before going to bed!
- During your allocated 15 – 20 minutes each day, write down all of your worrisome thoughts that are on your mind. Remember that you do not need to provide solutions to any of these issues right now. Writing down your worrying thoughts can be a therapeutic task. You can gain more clarity once you see what you have written down on paper.
- If you find that your mind has wandered back to worrying again in between your allocated time for worrying, gently let go of these thoughts. Remind yourself that you can worry about these thoughts during worry time. It may be hard to change your tendency to worry outside of your allocated time at first, so some encouraging self-talk may be needed. For example, gently reminding yourself to only thinking about your worries in your allotted time.
- Try to implement this new “worry time” schedule for a week. Have a look through your notes. Are there any patterns to what you worry about frequently? What are the top five things that you worry about? Has the content of your worries changed over the week?
- After reflecting on your worry thoughts, you may want to implement this schedule for another week.
Changing ingrained habits takes time
Remember that implementing a new schedule to change ingrained habits takes time. You may not get it right the first time around, and that is okay. Simply try your best and try again. By giving yourself an allocated time to worry, you will find that it will become easier to set aside worrying thoughts with practice.
Anticipatory anxiety are worries that are future-oriented in nature, where individuals feel a sense of uncertainty towards the future “what if’s”. In addition to implementing this new technique, mindfulness may also help individuals focus on present-moment awareness and what is happening now. Learn more about how to begin incorporating simple mindfulness practices in your life here: Incorporate these two easy mindfulness practices in your everyday life.