Don’t stop worrying; intentionally devote time to worrying.
I know what you are thinking. It sounds counter-intuitive?! Surely this cannot be helpful, but it can if it is done correctly.
- Schedule 15 minutes of Worry Time every day.
- Start by saying, “This time is for my worries, and I will not give attention to these worries outside of this time.”
- Spend this entire time thinking ONLY about your worries
- Write them all down (multiple times)
- At the end of 15 minutes immediately let go of those worries with some deep breaths
- Return to your regular activities letting all your worries go
The goal is to think of nothing positive. Don’t look for the positive side. Look for every bad side of your worries. Let them come up in your mind, and continue to look for more of them. Try to be as miserable as possible. Make sure you use up the entire 15 minutes, not a second less.
After days of this, most people will find it difficult to fill 15 minutes. That is one of the goals. Instead of worrying, you begin to have other emotions. You’re tricking your body’s emergency response system.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t do it before or near your bedtime. There’s no reason to lose sleep.
- Put it on your calendar. Scheduling worry-time can set the tone for your day, so try to do it early.
- Really let go of your worries. I like to crumple up the paper and throw it away to signify that I am letting it all go.
- If you start to worry outside of worry-time, tell yourself to let go of those thoughts until the next appointed time. This will be hard at first and may require positive self-talk.
- If you kept the worry-time writings, you can review them at the end of the week with your therapist. It might help you find worry-loops or reoccurring themes.
Keep in mind that worrying is an attempt at problem-solving and a way to deal with the uncertainty of life. Those who worry too often get stuck in the what-ifs which can be overwhelming. If you are able to identify an issue and take action, take it. If not, tell yourself you’re doing the best you can. Put your attention on something else until worry-time happens again. This will help.