How to Use Worry Time to Manage Anxiety and Worries

[Read Transcript]

Hi there, I hope you’re all doing okay, as we trundle through yet another week of lockdown.

On my Ask Me Anything post on Instagram, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to manage anxieties and worries.

And for a lot of you, this period of time means a lot more time on your own and that can mean a lot more time for thinking, which can mean a lot more time for rumination.

And while it’s normal to worry, just a bit more during this period, because there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air, it doesn’t mean that you have to be ruled by your anxiety. It doesn’t mean that you should let yourself be bombarded by anxious and intrusive thoughts all of the time, okay?

So what can you do if you are finding this difficult?

What can you do if you find yourself with no escape, from your own thoughts?

Well one thing that I like to teach my clients is something called Worry Time.

Now I love Worry Time, because what it teaches you to do, is to postpone, or delay your worries and anxiety to a time that you control. It gives you a greater sense of control over your thoughts, and allows you to manage your anxieties, more effectively.

I love it because it’s simple, it’s effective and you can start doing it, right away.

So how does it work?

So Worry Time includes three steps and the first step is about creating a Worry Time, creating a period of time, every day, same time every day, put it in your diary, where you are going to worry, that you set aside particularly for the task of thinking and reflecting upon your anxieties and worries.

Pick a place in the house that will be your worry place. Not the bedroom, not the living room, just a unique place in the house where you will just worry, okay?

So you’ve got your time and I’d say maybe 15-20 minutes, no more than that, where you’re just going to worry every single day and your worry place, that’s step one.

Step two, this is the trickier bit, is to postpone your worry, delay your worry. And the way it works is this. That when one of those little thoughts comes in and starts attacking you and starts bullying you, you just press the pause button, and you say, “Ah, ah, not right now. Not right now, this is not my Worry Time. I am going to make a note of you, and I’m going to put you away for when my Worry Time comes.”

And I would recommend keeping a little notebook or some of my clients use a jar and they call it the Worry Jar, and they write things on like little yellow Post-It Notes and stick it inside the Worry Jar. You can make a little list on your phone. It doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is that you note your worry briefly somewhere.

And again, just remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later. Those worries will come in and say, “Think about me, think about me, think about me, think about me.” You say, “Ah ah, I will think about you, but not now.”

And one way of doing this, of helping yourself move away and put it on the list, for later, is to really engage in whatever it is you’re doing in that moment. Whether it be cooking something, or whether it be eating a meal or whether it be drawing or helping your child, with their homework, or cleaning or a meeting that you might have, really try and be present with that task.

And that will help you to move away from the worry and kind of put it on the shelf, until your Worry Time.

Now the final thing you need to do, is actually engage in your worry period. So when the time comes in your diary, you go to your place in your house, step three, you either take out all the Post-It Notes, or you take out your list, or you open your phone and you have a look at all of the worries that you have put on the list. And you worry about them. You reflect upon them.

And I think what you’ll find is this, is that some of them won’t have so much power anymore. And if they don’t, then don’t worry about those because you don’t feel you have to.

So only worry about the things that you feel you have to worry that are still really bothering you. And reflect on them and if there are solutions to them, you can engage in those solutions. You might want to write some things out and reflect on them, in that way.

But this is your time to worry the heck out of them, yeah?

But only do it for that 20 minutes, 15-20 minute period. And then you’re done. You can put them on the list for tomorrow. But then you’re done.

Now this is a fantastic exercise. I know it seems a bit strange, okay, but it puts you in control of your thoughts, rather than your thoughts being in control of you.

We want to be able to choose which thoughts we attend to, and when, on our terms.

We don’t want to be the victim of these bullying thoughts and Worry Time starts to give you a greater sense of control over your thinking, so that you can decide when you’re going to worry about something. And you can clear out the rest of the day to engage in your life, feel meaningful and find things that you really want to be doing, other than worrying.

So give this a go, let me know how it goes.

If you run into any difficulties with it, or any problems, and you want to ask me some questions, just drop me a message and I will do my best to respond.

So keep well, keep safe and I will see you again, soon.

If you are struggling with a mental health difficulty and would like some support during this time, please click here to get in contact with us and arrange a free consultation call.

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