Do you find yourself caught up in your worries? When my stress levels increase, I find that it’s easy to become distracted from the present and find myself caught up thinking about things outside of my control.
Whilst it’s normal for everyone to have worries, if you’re finding anxiety is getting the better of you, or you can’t seem to stop thinking about everything that’s going wrong, it might be time to schedule in some worry time!! “What!? Why you you want to worry even more!?” you ask.
Worry time is one of my favourite CBT techniques to help reduce ruminative worries. It’s worked well when I’ve taught it to clients, and I also found that it worked really well for me personally (particularly when going through stressful events or major life changes).
The reason worry time seems to work so well, is that by giving your worries the time of day they’re asking for, they become less scary, less over whelming and less daunting.. and they stop capturing your attention throughout the day, because you’ve made room for them.
So here’s how you do it!
- Schedule in a time each day that you will devote purely to worrying!! Yes, you heard me!! It might seem crazy and paradoxical, but the point is that by allowing your worries some time of day, you may find that they aren’t so distressing any more….or that you even start to tire of thinking about them!! You might allocate 5 to 10 minutes per day – I strongly suggest doing this in the morning, not at night or before bed. During your worry time, set a timer or alarm to signal the end of your worry time.
- During your worry time, think about all the worries that have been causing you stress. Give them time of day – if you run out of worries, repeat the ones you’ve already covered! You can say them silently in your mind, or you may find it easier to say them out aloud.
- The first few days you try worry time, you may find this quite upsetting, but the more you practice, the easier it will become, and the less distressing the thoughts will feel. If you feel worked up after worry time, try taking some deep breaths, or having a hot shower to help you refocus.
- The more you do this technique, you may even find that you find it difficult to fill your 5 – 10 minutes time slot, which means it’s beginning to work – you;re giving your thoughts the time of day they’ve been asking for, and they’re becoming not so scary and overwhelming anymore!!
- Over the course of the day, if you find your worries popping into your mind, tell yourself that you will address these during your next worry time – you can even write yourself a reminder note if this helps. You may find that over the course of the day, you’re not as distracted by your worries, and better able to switch off from them. This will in turn help you to feel more in control of your thoughts and feelings.
If you like using apps, you can also download the Reach Out WorryTime App, which can help you structure your Worry Time and allow you to enter your worries as they pop up.
Would you try this technique? If you’re finding your worries are stopping you from doing the things you care about, or if you are feeling distressed, speak to your GP, or contact Lifeline, on 13 11 14.