Can Scheduling ‘Worry Time’ Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. It can range from feelings of slight unease to intense fear and is often exacerbated by worrying.
Stress and anxiety in our lives can have negative consequences on our mental and overall health, but it’s not always possible to just “turn off” anxiety when we experience it. However, there are practical things we can do to reduce its occurrences.
This is important because chronic stress and anxiety are big contributors to mental health issues. In addition, many of the most common mental health disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and depression, are also linked with substance abuse.
Although anxiety might cause some people to use drugs or alcohol, the link also applies the other way around. For example, drugs like caffeine, alcohol, and cocaine can cause anxiety. What is crack cocaine? It’s one of many stimulant drugs that can induce wakefulness and agitation, worsening the symptoms of anxiety.
To prevent anxiety from getting the best of you, try this tip: Schedule your worry time. Just as we plan our workout time for our physical health, we can designate a specific time to worry in support of our mental health.
Put ‘Worry Time’ on the Calendar
It might sound counterintuitive to make time for worrying in order to beat anxiety, but the idea is that if the time is scheduled, worry is less likely to consume you.
No matter the amount of time you spend worrying or the number of things you worry about, try limiting your worry time to 15 minutes a day to start. You can always adjust this later.
Morning or early afternoon is the best time for your scheduled worrying. Try to avoid it right before bedtime.
If worries pop up during the day, you know that you’ll have time to focus on them later. This can provide a sense of control and set you up for fewer distractions during the day. Over time, you can start to replace the habit of worry with one of relaxation.
Designate a ‘Worry Spot’
Don’t make a usual place of comfort, such as your bed or favorite lounge chair, the place where you do your scheduled worrying. Reserve those areas for relaxation.
Try to find a spot that can be designated for worry time only. Depending on the climate where you live, a space outside could work nicely.
Make a ‘Worry Box’
If it’s not enough to cast worries out of your mind for later, you can try using a worry box. Just jot worries down in a few words on a piece of paper as they come to you. Place your worries in the box and leave them there until the designated time.
Some people find using a notebook works better, just don’t let yourself get carried away when writing down your worries.
To Worry, or Not to Worry?
Now that the time has come to worry, you might find that you’re no longer concerned about what was bothering you. In that case, replace your worry time with something you enjoy, such as reading a book or practicing mindful breathing or yoga.
If the issues are still of concern, make sure that you don’t go beyond the designated time allotted. You can always return to the worry the next day.
Be Gentle with Yourself
You might find that it takes a while to notice that you’re worrying. Maybe you’ll spend a few minutes worrying before you catch yourself. Just be gentle with yourself. Any new behavior takes practice, and that includes noticing that you’re worrying and practicing feeling relaxed. Remember that you’re doing this to reduce the stress in your life, not add to it.
A wise person once said, “Worrying is worshiping your problems.” Scheduling your worry time can help you devote less time to what you don’t want and more time to what you do: things that relax, inspire, or invigorate you.
If nothing seems to be helping you reduce your worrying, consider talking to a trusted family member or friend. Excessive worrying can be an indicator of a mental health disorder that requires professional attention and care.