Worry Time

Introduction

Worrying is a natural and common human experience. We all worry about different things, such as our health, our finances, our relationships, our future, etc. However, sometimes worrying can become excessive, intrusive, and interfere with our daily functioning. When this happens, we may benefit from using a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) technique called worry time.

Worry time is a simple and effective way to manage your worries and reduce their impact on your life. The idea is to set aside a specific time and place every day to focus on your worries, rather than letting them occupy your mind throughout the day. By doing this, you can gain more control over your worries and free up mental space for other activities.

Instructions

  1. Choose a time and place for worry time. It should be a time when you are not too busy or tired and a place where you can be alone and undisturbed. Ideally, it should be at least a few hours before bedtime, so that you don’t go to sleep with worries on your mind. The duration of worry time can vary depending on your needs, but it should not be longer than 30 minutes.
  2. During the day, whenever you notice yourself worrying about something, write it down on a piece of paper, in a notebook or store it in your phone. Don’t try to solve the problem or judge the validity of the worry. Just write it down and put it away until worry time. This will initially be hard, because you haven’t practiced this yet. Using apps that lock away your worries can help make this more effective (IOS or Android)
  3. When it’s time for worry time, go to your chosen place and take out your list of worries. Read each worry one by one. You might notice that some of those worries have already resolved themselves. You might have already completed the meeting you were worried about or your friend got in touch and wasn’t mad like you thought. Now go over the other worries on your list and and ask yourself these questions: Is this worry realistic? Can I do something about this worry right now? If the answer is yes to these questions, write down a possible solution or action plan for the worry. If the answer is no to all of these questions, acknowledge that the worry is out of your control. When you encounter one of these worries, you can use other coping strategies like grounding exercises to redirect your focus away from the worries or you could do something you enjoy and distracts you like watching your favourite TV show. 
  4. After you have gone through all of your worries, tear up or delete the list. This is a symbolic way of saying goodbye to your worries and moving on with your day.
  5. Repeat this process every day until you notice a decrease in your worrying.

Tips to make it more effective

  • Be consistent. Try to do worry time at the same time and place every day. This will help you establish a routine and train your mind to postpone worrying until worry time.
  • Be realistic. Don’t expect worry time to eliminate all of your worries completely. Worrying is normal and sometimes unavoidable. The goal of worry time is to reduce the frequency and intensity of your worries, not to get rid of them entirely.
  • Be kind to yourself. After worry time, try to focus on something pleasant or rewarding, such as reading a book, listening to music, or calling a friend. This will help you shift your mood and reinforce the idea that worrying is not the only thing in your life.

If you enjoyed this practice and would like to have a copy in the form of a worksheet. Please feel free to download a copy by pressing the download button.

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