When worry visits… Getting skilful with worry.
Instructions: Many people find that their minds are consumed with worry. The following guide may help reduce the time you spend with worry and rumination. This technique has been shown to be effective with worries and may be part of treatment for people who have anxiety disorders.
1. When you notice that you are worrying about something, postpone the worrying by telling yourself you will think about the problem later in the day during a set “worry time”.
2. Plan a time during the day for 15 to 30 minutes of worrying. Try to do this “worry time” at a time during the day when you are most relaxed and centered. When worry time comes, make sure you have a time limit of at most 30 minutes. Some worries may now seem unimportant so let these go. As you examine each worry, take a compassionate stance toward yourself (maybe acknowledge you are working toward a solution now) rather than a blaming one e.g., “how could have let it get to this”. Get curious about the worry gently exploring the problem and how it might be managed or solved.
It may help to write each problem down one by one. If possible, generate solutions and then pick a solution that has the greatest chance for long-term success. You may like to check your solution with a trusted friend.
3. When you notice that worries have come up, and it is not “worry time,” there are a number of things you could do.
i) notice and acknowledge that worry is there and remind yourself that this is how human minds work, it’s not specific to you that your mind keeps returning to the problem. It’s like the tongue when a tooth is pulled, it will keep finding the hole!
ii) gently remind yourself that this is not the time to worry (you will have worry time later), and refocus on what you were doing. You may like to say something to yourself to remind yourself to stay in the present rather than focus the future, e.g., “what is my task right now? What do I need to do?” Other people find that asking themselves “where is the present moment?” “where is the now?” Or saying “just be here now,” can bring them back.
iii) If necessary, use your breath (follow the in-breath, and then the outbreath for a few moments) or your pick a sense (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight) to focus on for a few moments.
Try not to banish or suppress worries when they show up. This has been shown to increase worries. It is better to welcome them and not respond to them (paradoxical as that might sound).
Let the worry be in the back of your mind as you proceed with an activity. This is how you train your mind so you are in control of it, rather than the reverse. The more you allow the worry to be there without responding to it (in frustration or anger or disappointment), the greater the likelihood that it will eventually fade.