Worry is natural. It is an anxious way of thinking about oneself and the world, usually involving what could go wrong in the future. Worries increase when there is danger, problems, or uncertainty, so it is understandable that many people today are worried.
However, intense, frequent worrying can interrupt daily life. It can make concentrating on work difficult and cause sleeping problems, among other things. Below is a five-step plan for reducing time spent worrying, provided by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Designate “Worry Time”. Set aside a half hour each day for “worry time”. This half hour should happen at the same time every day. Choose a certain place to spend your “worry time”.
Watch for worries. When you worry, learn to recognize that you are worrying. It can be difficult to recognize that you are worrying, but with practice you will be able to catch worrying earlier and earlier.
Postpone worrying. When you catch yourself worrying, take a breath. Remind yourself that you will have time to worry about the issue during your “worry time”. There is no need to let it upset you until “worry time”.
Focus on the present. Think about what you are doing, or what is next on your to-do list.
Worry Time. Use your “worry time” to worry about your concerns as much as you like. Some people find it helpful to distinguish between problems they have no control over and problems they can influence. For example, you may not have control over whether you get sick. However, there are many things you can do to prevent getting sick, such as washing your hands and staying six feet away from others. Others find it helpful to recognize that when they have no control over a problem, they are only making themselves feel bad when worrying about it. Different people find different methods helpful, so remember to spend your “worry time” however is helpful to you.
The steps listed above may be difficult. It takes time and hard work to change patterns of thinking like worry. If you believe your worries are excessive and uncontrollable, you may consider talking with a health care provider about how your worries are impacting your daily life.
Find out more from the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.