Posted 2 years ago

COPING WITH COVID (and other life stressors): THE WORRY TIME TECHNIQUE – PART 2

In part 1, we spoke about setting up your worry time – here, we’ll discuss what to do when worrisome thoughts emerge during the day, and about being mindful of how you spend your worry time.

STEP 2 – PARKING WORRIES TILL IT’S WORRY TIME

Telling yourself that you’ll assign yourself a 30min worry-window a day is easier said than done, because it’s likely your mind will suddenly through panic-induced thoughts at you in the middle of the day.

“WHAT IF WE NEVER GO BACK TO NORMAL?!”

It can be hard to stop these thoughts from entering our mind, but we can approach them with compassion and simply choose to put these thoughts aside till our designated worry time.

For example, instead of entertaining that thought there and then, and planning out what Armageddon will look like, you can write that worry down and come back to it later.

As such, ask yourself this: What am I going to do when an anxious thought pops up? And what will I do to help me postpone those worries (e.g. call a friend, workout, listen to my favourite song, do a 5min meditation…)?

When we have a plan, we are more likely to follow through with it and like that, you can continue to get on with your day and reduce the impact these concerns have on your daily functioning, which will lead to better wellbeing outcomes.

STEP 3 – USE YOUR WORRY TIME EFFECTIVELY

This is where it’s most important to remain level-headed and as rational as we can. Spending your 30min worry time on concerns or outcomes that you have no control over will only leave you more in distress.

As such, it’s important to be mindful of spending your worry time taking action on the things which are under your control.

For example, you may be worried about losing all of your progress at the gym – if you are, speak to your current coach (or if you don’t have a coach, you can drop any of the VW Physique coaches a message) to make a plan for home workouts, nutrition, and check-ins that will keep you accountable and ensure you come back better.

If you cannot control the outcome – such as how long this might go on for – ask yourself whether it’s really worth worrying about it, or whether you can just let go and take it day by day.

Here’s a summary of the worry time technique and how you might apply it in your own life:

I will allot myself ______________ minutes (15-30, no more!) of worry time a day, in which I can read news articles on coronavirus, and just spend some time sitting and worrying. My worry time will happen at ___:___ every day and I will do it in/at/on _______________ (not my bedroom or anywhere comfortable where I might start to ‘enjoy’ the worrying). Outside of my worry time, if a worry thought comes into my mind, I will write it down (on my phone or a post-it note) to come back to in my worry time, and will then ‘postpone’ the worry using one of the below methods:

  • ___________________________________
  • ___________________________________

Clara Swedlund MSc MBPsS