Do you often find yourself worrying about events in the future? And not just worrying a little, sometimes worry that can get so big it stops you from wanting or being able to do anything else but worry. When worries get so big that they start to get in the way of your day to day life, they start to impact you in all sorts of ways. Here are some ways that constant worrying can impact you:
Trouble with sleep
Trouble with mood regulation
Anxiety or feeling overwhelmed
Trouble with focus or concentration
Odds are that if this type of worry is something you struggle with, that you have been looking for ways to either reduce the worry or the impact it has on your life. A tip that may help you reach this goal is incorporating a specific worry time into your daily routine.
What is worry time?
Worry time is a time that is set aside and specifically scheduled in your day to allow you to have time to worry. This could be in whatever increment that you chose, some people think 15 minutes is enough time to set aside while some people use closer to an hour.
It may seem counterintuitive to set aside time specifically for worrying if the goal is for you to worry less, but there is a method to the madness! Dedicating time later in the day can help decrease the amount and intensity of worries experienced during the day. In order to understand worry time better, let's help get you set up with what you’ll need for worry time!
What do I need?
Worries: all shapes and sizes welcome!
A method of keeping track of worries: this can be done by traditional methods like pen and paper, a notes app on your phone, recording via voice memos on your phone, or another thought recording app (one of my favorites is Emotionary!)
An identified time frame just for worrying that feels comfortable for you
How do I use worry time?
Anytime a worry crosses your mind, write it down in your record keeping method and tell the thought that you understand its importance but that worrying about it right now isn’t productive, but that you’ll give it the attention it deserves during your identified worry time. Below is an example of what this kind of record keeping may look like to help get started!
Worry & Situation that caused worry
Intensity of emotion/worry (1-10)
E.x. worried a friend is mad at me because they didn’t respond to a text
What if they don’t like me anymore?
Did I do anything wrong?
I don’t want to be lonely
At your identified worry time, grab your worry log and allow yourself to worry about each item. Ask questions about them--are they all still as important as they were when you were worried about them? Are there any overarching themes? Are there any possible solutions? Are the worries based on facts? Below is another example of a way to address the worry during your worry time. If worry time starts to feel overwhelming, always feel free to transition into a self-care activity or grounding activity, or address the worry with a professional.
Worry & Theme
What are the facts?
What can be done?
How important is this? (1-10)
Worst case scenario & how likely
Plan to address worry
E.x. friend didn’t answer text --theme of relationships
She never said she was mad at me
She is on vacation
She was not mad last time we talked, and I have not done anything since
I could ask her if she is mad at me when she responds, if I am still worried by her response.
2, I don’t have any facts to back up she is mad, but I want to ensure my friendship is okay
She is mad, and we talk about why
I will wait for her to text me back and ask if she is mad, but won’t stress over it in the meantime
Once your identified worry time has passed, put away the worry log. Encourage your thoughts to return to the here and now with an activity that helps calm you down like a mindfulness or grounding skill, or even maybe a shower, arts and crafts or any self care item that works for you.
How worry time can help
Worry time can help in many ways other than just reducing worry frequency and intensity during the day. By using worry time, you are actively practicing and strengthening other coping skills associated with anxiety and depression. Some of these added benefits are listed below.
Increases mindful thinking
Increases objective thought processes and engages the wise mind
Decrease rumination and perseverative thinking
Increase emotional regulation
So, as counterintuitive as it may seem, setting up a worry time may be just the trick you have been looking for if your goals are to decrease time spent worrying during the day! For more personalized help to address worry and anxiety, book an appointment with one of our skilled therapists on our website or call (215) 922-5683.