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Would You Benefit from a Worry Time?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Anxiety and Panic Workshop at The View, Grandview’s community center, went very well. We had a great dialogue and lots of good questions were asked. I handed out a lot of valuable information and techniques for people to begin using and practicing right away. In September I will be leading another workshop on stress management, so keep an eye out for that!

One of the techniques I covered at the workshop was that of worry time. In a nutshell, you intentionally spend time worrying. Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it! But it’s an evidence-based practice, meaning research has found it to be effective.

Ideally, you will determine a particular time and place for your worry time, and you will stick to that. If you are someone who finds that all kinds of worries start up as soon as your head touches the pillow at night, then I’d recommend making your worry time part of your evening routine, but not right before bed. Make the place you choose for your worry time a place you don’t use much otherwise, and make sure you can be comfortable and focused.

During the day, whenever you notice a worry starting, jot down 2 or 3 words about it, enough so you’ll remember it later. This means you’ll have to keep a piece of paper nearby for notes or use a memo app on your phone. Then remind yourself that this is not your designated worry time. Let that worry go, secure in the knowledge you will address that worry at the designated time.

At your designated time, set a timer for 15 minutes. You set the timer so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of time or checking the clock. Now, start worrying! Review the list of worries you made during the day. Some of them may no longer worry you, and if this is the case, you can ignore those. If new worries occur to you, add them to your list. If you are able, do your worrying on paper (or in a word processing document on your computer). The act of writing about your worries involves more parts of your brain than simply thinking about your worries and writing also slows us down. If a possible solution or approach to dealing with a worry occurs to you, you can write that down, as well, but the point of this worry time is not to try to resolve the worries. Many people find it’s quite challenging to fill 15 minutes with worries.

So why do this? Research shows that after practicing this new approach to worrying for several weeks, people report a drop in the amount of worrying they do. With practice, it becomes easier to stop your worries and wait for the “worry time.” And gradually you’ll have fewer worries because it turns out that worrying can become a bad habit. Practicing this technique breaks the reinforcement that supports the ongoing worrying and creates the new and desired habit of waiting until worry time for those worries that might still need attention.

Whether you’re dealing with anxiety, stress, or something else like life changes, I invite you to give me a call or text for either a free consultation or an appointment at (816) 226-4678. Research shows that many people experience some relief as soon as they have scheduled an appointment, so call today!

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