Setting aside time to worry can actually help lower your anxiety

. 2 min read
The All Mental Health Team

We know... it sounds strange. But there's research to suggest that planning a specific time to worry can actually keep it from creeping into the rest of your day.

Imagine two scenarios:

  1. You wake up, feeling uneasy. You have a quick flash of anxiety, related to your breakup. But you try to push it out of your mind and go on with your day. Later, when you're eating lunch, you remember it again, and feel stressed. And again, on your drive home. And again, before bed. All day long, you have a feeling that something is just not quite right.

  2. You wake up the next day, feeling uneasy. Your anxiety spikes when you think about your breakup. But this time, you decide that during the afternoon, you'll focus fully on that worry. Right now, you're going to get ready, and go about your day, knowing that you've got time set aside later on. During the time you planned, you focus on the breakup (more about how you'd do this in a bit). Then, later that night, you feel a bit lighter, a bit more in control.

Okay, so if you're still with us, let's talk about what that worry time could look like:

  • Set aside 15-30 minutes of your day when you won't be interrupted. It's best if you can find a quiet, comfortable, and private space.
  • Choose how you'd like to focus your worries. You can record them by writing them down, or using a voice recorder on your phone. You could also just sit and think quietly, or speak out loud. We recommend recording them, since the act itself can be helpful. But really, it's all about what works for you.
  • Set a timer. Remember, this is all about being deliberate. You're creating a time box for your worries. So, don't let yourself keep going and going after the timer goes off.
  • Take a few deep breaths. That might have been a pretty intense 15-30 minutes. So, give yourself some time to decompress. You could listen to a guided meditation, or take a few deep breaths on your own.
  • Remind yourself that you already worried. If the worry pops up again later in your day, remind yourself that you already took the time to focus on that issue. If needed, you can always schedule another session.

Try it for yourself, and see if it helps. Remember, worrying is normal. But there are strategies to help you get through your day feeling more calm and in control.

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