The Worry Hour
Studies show that actually scheduling a weekly time to worry is effective at reducing anxiety. Find out how to start your own "worry hour."
story by Christina Richardson, PhD.
There is thinking and then there is worrying. Thinking is good because it involves reflection and decision-making, and leads to taking action when necessary. Worrying is problem solving on a merry-go-round. Concern turns into preoccupation, repetition, and failure to act.
The good news is that worrying is learned behavior. What we do over and over, we get better at. So if we give in to our mind saying we need to worry, we get better at worrying. The converse of this is to limit the time and energy spent worrying, and to tackle worry on our own terms.
In a study reported by the National Institutes of Health, a cognitive behavioral therapy tool called stimulus control training was found to help develop control over the frequency and timing of worry. Restricting worry to a time and place reduces anxiety along with mood- and sleep-related symptoms.
To control your worrying, try these steps:
Your ultimate goal is to teach yourself to confine your worrying to a specific time and leave your brain open for fun or more important things. You may very well find that you start to resolve issues better and you also have less of those “what if” thoughts that always seems to go to the worst-case scenario.
Changing a habit like worrying takes time, so be gentle with yourself. When you feel a worry coming on say to yourself, “I hear you but I am going to write this worry down and take care of it at my worry time.”