Worrying is one of the most common issues that people suffer from, it causes nuisance and distress. Anxiety and worrying go hand in hand. Sometimes, worrying can turn into a loop which is difficult to escape. This means that practising methods that help to stop worrying is crucial. These methods I’m about to share with you come from years of studying Psychology and a group CBT that I have attended for 10 weeks. While everyone is different, these methods are aimed at everyone who suffer from worrying / anxiety.
What is worrying?
Before I dwell further into the techniques used to tackle worrying, let’s look into what worrying
actually is. Worry is a behaviour in which your focus is concentrated around negative material – thoughts, images, situations. It is characterised by catastrophising (thinking worst will happen) and what ifs. To stop worrying, you need to change how you approach the behaviour itself.
Types of worries
There are two types of worries – hypothetical worries and practical worries. Hypothetical worries refer to imaginative scenarios, for example worrying about your parents passing away when you are on holiday. In contrast, practical worries are based on everyday life issues. For example, paying bills, making a phone call, education related things etc. Before you apply the techniques to stop worrying, learn to classify your worries.
The negatives of worry suppression
Suppressing negative thoughts is not the way to stop worrying. In fact, trying to suppress your worries can lead to more worries surfacing later on. Ironic Process Theory in Psychology explains that deliberate attempts to suppress thoughts will make you think more about those thoughts.
If I tell you:
DO NOT THINK ABOUT THIS WHITE BEAR
|Photo credit: Pexels|
The likely chance is – you are thinking about the white bear.
Accept that you have worries, do not try to hide them or suppress them.
Worry – Time
Worry – Time is a technique used to stop hypothetical worries. It may seem strange at first, but it is effective. This method is simple. Give yourself time to worry, without any distractions. Worry – Time has four simple steps:
1. Plan worry time.
Plan a time in a day where you are able to dedicate a moment for worrying, no longer than 20 minutes. Try to do it consistently every day. Ensure that worry time is not done before bed, as it may affect your sleep.
2. Write down your worries
Every time you have a different worry surfacing in your head, keep a note of it. You could have a worry diary on paper or on your phone. You will come back to your list during your worry-time slot in the day.
3. Refocus on the present moment
After you write down your worries in the list. You need to refocus on the present moment. Try to do something that you enjoy. Read a book, listen to a podcast or music. This is where self-care comes handy!
4. Do your scheduled worry-time
During your scheduled worry-time, all you need to do is worry about the things that you have listed on your worry list. If new worries surface during the worry-time, that’s okay. Allow yourself to worry freely.
Over-time, this technique will help to worry less in the day. If you think that dedicating a period in the day just for worrying is pointless – great. Hypothetical worries are pointless.
Problem – solving
Problem – solving is the best method to stop practical worries. You need to tackle the problems that are related to your worries. Break down these problems into steps and think of solutions that help to solve these issues. Do not let the problems mount up, because simple things could snow-ball out of proportion.
What is your problem?
Example : I have lost a job. How will I pay my bills?
Think of all the possible solutions related to your practical problem.
Example: Could borrow money, could search for a new job, could go to citizens advice for further support
Pros and Cons
Think of all the pros and cons to the solutions.
Example: Borrowing money could lead to debt, searching for a job takes time but is something that should be done, citizen’s advice may help with benefits in the meantime.
Implement your solution to tackle the practical worry.
Example: Go to Citizen's Advice appointment.
Review your feelings after implementing the solution. Are you feeling less anxious? If your worry is still there, try to implement another solution.
Beliefs of worries
For worrying in general, you should question the beliefs and thoughts of your worries. If you understand where your worries come from, you could start tackling these deeper causes. A lot of the time, the main causes for worries are unconscious / subconscious.
So here you have it, these are some useful techniques to help you stop worrying. Like for most things, these techniques should become a habit. Make sure you practice these consistently. Your worries won’t stop in a day. It’s all a process. I hope you have found this post helpful, do let me know in the comments of any other methods that you use in order to tackle your worries.