During my recent studies and research on anxiety I came across the notion of ‘Worry Time’. To begin with, this baffled me. Why would I put aside time to worry each day? Surely this seems counter-productive when you suffer with anxiety? Surely you don’t want to be having extra time to worry when you already suffer with anxiety? This isn’t the case at all. In fact, when I read about worry time I felt suspicious about whether or not this would work but nonetheless I decided to give it a go. In this article, I am going to describe the process of worry time and why I think it’s important and a great way to start tackling your anxiety.
Firstly, I would try ‘Worry Time’ for about a week to see how you get on.
I would say during this first week, it is important to have a small pad and pen nearby at all times. If technology is more your thing, then open up a new notes page and use that instead and make sure that that is accessible to you throughout the day. I tended to use a bit of both, if I’m honest because I would use the notepad and pen if I was at home and had access to it, but if I was out and about I would use the notes on my phone so you can always combine the two. But by the end of the day, you need both copies on you and try to write down the notes from one onto the other- so all of your worries of the day are listed in one place.
Whilst I’ve been suffering with anxiety, I have noticed that I am a constant worrier. These worries can be about small things, big things, just anything. Sometimes it feels like my mind always worries and it doesn’t seem to switch off. I could literally be there all day with my brain flowing with worries constantly. Once my brain has gone into this pattern, I find it really difficult to switch off and focus on what I was doing, or who I was with. I would switch to these worries through the day, I’d be consumed by it all. I know that this is a very common symptom of anxiety and I’m sure that many of you can relate to this and have probably experienced this on some sort of same level.
So why is worry time important?
The aim of this is ‘Worry Time’ is to reduce the amount of time you worry through the day and allows you to re-focus your energies on your every day life and offers a process to help you to manage your worries and in turn your anxiety. It allows you to take control back a little bit. I think this is really important in making life more bearable and reducing anxiety in your everyday routines.
The process of worry time is pretty simple and it should be fairly easy to follow.
The trick is to remember why are you doing it and to not ruminate over your worries during the day. You need to be strict and and only allow your worries to come out at the specific time.
Throughout the day hundreds of worries and stresses could potentially pop into your head. This method teaches you how to regain control over them. So all you need for this method is to have a piece of paper and a pen handy or you could use the notes on your phone. Just make sure that you have something that you can record down some of your thoughts.
I personally used a mini pad and pen and had that accessible at all times. I love my stationary so this wasn’t really a chore to have this around and it’s quite nice to have the excuse to have a new pad especially for this task. Basically throughout the day, any time that you feel worried or anxious about something, no matter what it is, you need to record that worry onto a piece of paper or wherever you are jotting it down on.
We are not pushing the worry away, because actually there is evidence that by trying to a avoid your worries that you end up making your anxieties worse, but you are just saying to this worry and this anxiety that you’re feeling, that you are too busy to deal with this right now and you will come back and address the worry when you have your specific time later on. So any worry that pops into your head throughout the day, jot it down and then you are to re-address your attention back to your current task at hand. If you are currently not doing anything, my advice is to indulge and get involved in an activity. This could be anything from doing some washing up, another household chore, to having a bit of pamper time, going on a walk, phoning a friend, reading a book. It can be anything practical, but the importance is to put your attention and mind back on something else and to focus rather than ruminating over your worry.
By the end of the day you will have a few of the worries you have experienced written down. At the same time every day you need to allocate 10 to 20 minutes to sit down and have your worry time. It’s best to put a timer on for this so that you don’t end up using the worry time to ruminate and get excessive and take up too much of your evening, so I found that between 10 and 20 minutes is more than enough to complete this worry time task. Make sure that you have no distractions and that you are on your own ready to go over your worries.
The next part is to go through your list of worries one by one.
As you go through the worries, you may find that some have already resolved themselves, you may find that some don’t bother you any more. With the remaining worries that you have in front of you, you need to then categorise them into two; one being hypothetical worries. These are worries that you can’t do anything about. These are the what if worries and these are the ones that when you usually have them on your mind, they run away with you and you start to panic and think what if this happens, what if that then happens etc. These hypothetical worries can get you very caught up, however, if there is no practical way of resolving them and they are just what if worries you have to try your best to think that there is nothing you can physically do about this worry and you have to put your faith someone into life and hope that with time this may resolve.
Now what you could do, is to make a note on a separate piece of paper with all of the hypothetical worries you have and remind yourself that you cannot resolve this worry tonight so you will readdress this tomorrow. It may be that a few of these you have to come back to each and every day but you realise that although you are worrying about it, you’ve got a certain time that you can worry about it and that’s at the end of the day so that it stops spoiling your day. I think with time you’ll see that a lot of these ones will either resolve themselves or you may not be that bothered by them any more.
The second category of worries are the practical ones. So these are the worries that you have that you can do something about. So if you’re worrying about money issues, then your next step is to write a step-by-step plan on how you are going to tackle this worry; what you are going to put in place to get through this problem. You will find that instead of excessively worrying about the situation, your head is turned into more practical thinking and you will feel better alone by just putting some practical steps and goals onto a piece of paper on how to tackle this worry. Then, of course, you should go ahead and follow the steps and break them down into as many tiny goals as you need to just to make you feel better about it all. By making the steps and goals into bite sized chunks, it all seems more manageable and less daunting.
When the timer goes off, you are to stop going over your worries. It doesn’t matter if you have any left to go over; those will then continue onto the next evening when you have that time again. As soon as you have finished your worry time, the aim is for you to just put your concentration and mind back into other aspects of your life and back to a current task at hand. As I would do my time in the evenings, I would then have a shower and go and watch some TV, knowing that actually I’ve gone over my worries. Some of the ones that I can’t do anything about, I can address another day and I’ve put some steps in place of ones that I can do something about. Now it’s time for me to go and carry on my life and if I have anything else to worry about, I will put it down ready for me to come to during my next time.
So that is ‘Worry Time’ in a big long nutshell.
- Basically any worries you have during the day, jot down as you go along. As soon as you’ve jotted those down, you need to put your attention back on the task at hand in front of you.
- Find something practical to do that will take your mind off these worries after they’ve arisen.
- At the end of each and every day, you allocate 10 to 20 minutes. Put a timer on. Sit down somewhere quiet and go over these worries.
- Some worries may have already resolved or you find that you’re not fussed about them any more. A lot of worries will remain. You then need to decide which category to put these into. Can you do something about this worry? Is it a hypothetical worry or practical worry? Determine which category they belong to and the hypothetical ones you need to put to one side to maybe address a different day or see if with time it goes away or if you are able to just try to let it go and let things be. You cannot physically do anything about that worry or it may be that you can’t do anything about that right now and you’re worrying about something that is a year away, or years away. What I would then say is to have a think about some steps you could put in place if that really happens but other than that I would try to just put it to one side as for now there is nothing you can do about it. Please stop beating yourself up about it. But what ifs may never happen so it is stripping away from your present joy in life by worrying about these.
- With the practical worries, you then need to write down some step-by-step goals on how to tackle these worries so that you can move forward with your life. You can then implement these steps and goals.
- At the end of the worry time, you are to go back to life and continue to jot down the worries you have outside of the time that you allocate each day.
I did this for a few weeks a couple of years back.
It did really help because if I had something I was worrying about I was able to say “Okay, I can’t deal with this right now, but I will do later” and I would write it down and just by writing it down, it felt like I had a load off my mind already. Over time as my anxiety has been getting better, although it is not perfectly okay, I have found a more modified easier version of this. I don’t need ‘Worry Time’ each day any more, however, when I feel that I have a lot on my mind, or I am worrying about several different things in one go, I will write absolutely everything that is on my mind onto a piece of paper. I will then put it away for a few hours, maybe even a day or two and then when I have a clearer mind and I feel like I can deal with these, I will bring this piece of paper out and go over each thing bit by bit. I find that by doing this, I already feel tons better and if it is a practical worry I then set about trying to tackle this with a clear mind and positive attitude. So this is something that you can aim to do further on, but I find that by writing everything down, it really does make things a lot easier to manage. Decluttering your brain is just as important as decluttering your physical space around you.
So I hope that you will give this worry time a go and I hope that you find this method helpful and manageable to do. If you have any questions do not hesitate to send me a comment or message on here and I will try to get back to you as quickly as I can. Do you have any other tips and tricks on how to manage worries? I’d love it if you could leave a comment, thank you. If you liked this blog post, then please share it on your social media pages and give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe if you want to follow my journey of improving my mental health but also improving the stigma around mental health. I am trying to get the message across that it’s okay to talk about this even if it is just to help each other out. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, the link is above at the top of this page.