Posted 2 years ago

COPING WITH COVID (and other life stressors): THE WORRY TIME TECHNIQUE – PART 1

Worrying is the process of over-thinking negative things that could happen to us or others in the future. Although we’ve evolved to be able to worry as a survival mechanism, when we are not in control of a situation – such as the coronavirus now, or any other problem that may emerge – our worrying has no use. In fact, it can heighten our anxiety, which will have a negative impact on our mental and physical health.

Although we cannot stop worry – especially by telling ourselves “not to think about X Y or Z” – we can set boundaries that limit how much time we actually spend worrying. This is where the worry time technique comes in handy, because it’s not about stopping worry, but it’s about reducing the amount of time we spend worrying about things that are outside of our control.

There are three parts to the worry time technique:

STEP 1 – SET UP YOUR WORRY TIME

Your worry time is a designated time during the day in which you allow and give yourself the time and space to worry (e.g. reading the news, personal concerns).

Your worry time should be no longer than 30minutes, because you really don’t want to spend DAY in a “paralysis by analysis” state – you can always set a timer if you think you might go over this.

Similarly, when planning out your worry time, make sure you schedule it in at a time that works well: late enough in the day that you actually have something to worry about, but not too close to bedtime that it impairs your sleep.

It’s then critical to ensure you don’t sit/lie and worry about something in a space where you’re too comfortable or you might start to enjoy it.

Also, make sure you plan HOW and WHAT you’ll do to distract and pick yourself back up / boost your mood once your worry time is over.

So, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help set up your worry time:

  1. How long will I make my worry time?
  2. When (what time of the day) will I schedule in my worry time?
  3. Where will I spend my worry time?
  4. What activity will I do to end my worry time?

 

Check out the article on steps 2 and 3 to learn how to postpone your worries and use your worry time effectively!

Article adapted from copingwithcoronavirus.org.uk

Clara Swedlund MSc MBPsS