Do you ever feel like your worries are out of control? Do you stay up at night thinking in circles? Do you over think when you're driving, or showering, or during any free moment?
For many people with generalised anxiety, worrying can feel like a never-ending cycle that goes on and on. It can interfere with daily life, making it difficult to concentrate on anything else. However, there is one strategy that can help: worry time. Setting aside time to worry can minimise the impact of constant worry on your life. In this post, we'll explore what worry time is and how you can use it to take control of your worries.
What is worry time
Worry Time is a psychological intervention that can be used to manage symptoms of generalised anxiety. It is a structured and specific way of dealing with anxious thoughts and concerns, and can be an effective tool for reducing anxiety and improving overall well-being.
The basic idea behind Worry Time is simple: set aside a specific time each day to focus on and address your anxious thoughts and worries. This designated "worry time" can be any length of time that works for you, but it is generally recommended to be between 15-30 minutes, and sometime in the morning.
If you find yourself worrying at any time of the day, the goal is to defer the worry to the next worry time. This is sometimes easier than telling yourself to stop. People with generalised anxiety in many ways want to worry. Deferring is sometimes an easier sell to the part of the brain intent to working through some worries.
What to do during worry time
During worry time, you can write down your worries and concerns in a journal or on a piece of paper. This can help to organise your thoughts and make them more manageable. You can divide the worries up into those worries that you can do something about, and those that you can't. Perhaps you can problem-solve some, and make a commitment to letting go of others.
Another way to use worry time is try using the "five-minute worry rule". This technique involves setting a timer for five minutes, and allowing yourself to worry and think about one particular issue. When the timer goes off - you stop and move on to the next worry. This can help to limit the amount of time and energy you spend on each worry, and prevent you from getting stuck in an anxious worry loop.
Another technique is to challenge and evaluate your worries. This involves examining your worries and concerns, and asking yourself if they are realistic and based on facts. If they are not, you can reframe your thinking and come up with more balanced and realistic ways of thinking about the situation.
In addition to these techniques, it can also be helpful to engage in relaxation activities during worry time. This can include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness exercises. These activities can help to calm your body and mind, and make it easier to focus on your worries and concerns.
How does it help?
Worry-time seems simple, but it can help in a variety of ways, Including
1. The net effect of reduced worrying over the course of the day can help to reduce overall anxiety and improve mood. Which can, in turn, improve sleep, stress, and overall physical health.
2. We learn how much our specific worries are tied to mood. Often when it comes time to worry we realise that we don't actually feel so worried about that particular things right now. It 'feels' different.
3. We learn that we can control our worries. In a way, practicing worry time is training that skill. This is huge because often-times worriers will feel absolutely controlled and at the whim of their worries. It can be very liberating to feel more in control of our worries.
Overall, Worry Time is a simple but effective intervention for managing symptoms of generalised anxiety. By setting aside a specific time each day to focus on your worries and concerns, you can learn to cope with anxiety in a more structured and effective way. This can lead to reduced anxiety and improved overall well-being.
B Psych (Hons), M Psych (Clin), MAPS
Elizabeth Talbot is a Clinical Psychologist and the Principal Psychologist at Clinical Therapy. Whilst Elizabeth enjoys her clinical work, she is also a lover of behavioural science and has a keen research interest in the psychology of decision making, moral reasoning, cognitive biases, magical thinking, and conspiratorial beliefs.
Content note: Unless otherwise labelled, all blog posts are intended as discussion pieces, and are not academic texts. Articles pertaining to research or making an academic argument will be labelled as such and include supporting evidence/references. All examples (including client names) are fictitious, to illustrate a point, and are not based on actual clients.