The Worry Hour
story by Christina Richardson, PhD.
In the middle of the day, or the middle of the night, or indeed the middle of anything, worry can take hold. Things needing to be done, things forgotten, things hanging over one’s head — all butt in at the most inopportune times and manage to ruin whatever else is taking place.
An old English proverb sums up my thinking on worrying: “Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Not worrying is not an option, but planned worrying is. Let me explain.
Mind, Body, Spirit
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.
To control your worrying, try these steps:
- Schedule worry time once a week. Put it on your calendar. Fifteen to thirty minutes is good. Pick a time that is comfortable for you.
- During your worrying time write down all the worries you can think of.
- During the day if you start to worry about something, jot it down for your worry time or remind yourself that you will take this matter up at the designated time.
- At the end of the first week look at your worry list. Are there patterns or repeats? Do you have a top ten that show up every time without resolution?
- If you are comfortable with the process keep it up for another week.
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.”