How to Quiet Your Anxious Mind with a Worry Schedule

Feb 19, 2021 | 0 comments

“If you worry, you suffer twice.” – Newt Scamander

You don’t have to solve every problem or feel every feeling right now…A delay may be good for your mental health. If you struggle with worrying, you may benefit from a worry schedule. You need time to process and to hit reset each day so you aren’t stuck ruminating.

It’s important to note, however, that worrying is a totally normal and human thing to do.

When you worry, you may think that it is a productive use of time. You may think that worrying prevents you from suffering the future. But in reality, you lose more control.

Worrying is not something that can just be turned off with a switch, but it can be managed. With the right tools, such as a worry schedule, you can gain control. When you gain control, you find peace. 

Worry is in part, catastrophizing. According to Healthline, “Catastrophizing is when someone assumes that the worst will happen.” That’s like thinking Murphy’s Law – everything that could go wrong will go wrong – applies to you. You’re not alone in thinking this though. Most have a negativity bias where they perceive negative things more than positive. In fact, they discount the positive altogether along with other cognitive distortions.

So, how do you address these worries? There is cognitive behavioral therapy, where you replace an irrational thought with one more grounded in rationality. You can analyze your thoughts. You can challenge them. There’s even a great app for that, CBT Thought Diary. In this app, you record your feelings, analyze your thoughts and select a cognitive distortion your thoughts may fall under. All of these are great ways to handle a worry.

But sometimes, you just need a break. That’s where a worry schedule comes in. A worry schedule isn’t about silencing your thoughts or repressing them. Rather it is allowing them to take place at a certain time of day so that you are able to focus during the rest. 

If you want to adopt a worry schedule, there are three steps to follow: Worry awareness is when you become aware of what you’re worrying about. Worry delay is when you schedule a time to focus on those issues in the future. Worry time is the time you use to worry.

A “worry window” is to stop you from using all your time worrying, to make the time you do worry purposeful. It allows you to take control of worrying by giving it a scheduled outlet. Over time, you will worry less and find more peace with better problem-solving skills.

How much time should you set aside to worry? Healthy Psych suggests to try a worry time at the start and end of your day, between 15-30 minutes then have an end of week reflection on any patterns. Either just sit with your thoughts or write them out. A first step is journaling everything you are worried about in the scheduled time. However you do it is up to you! Scheduling worry time will lead to better solutions, too.

The key is to use your time when worrying to just let it all out. Release. Unpack. Let go. Feel. Express. Find an outlet. When you have that time to yourself, it’s also radical self-care. You are giving compassionate attention to yourself so that you can not only survive but thrive. This helps you to stop beating yourself up for feeling. When you allow yourself to feel, you heal.

If you find yourself still struggling to be in the moment when you delay your worrying, ground yourself with your senses. Name things you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell until you are fully in the present. This helps worry not to spiral into anxiety, panic or depression. If you can choose this moment and worry another time, you actually lessen your worrying overall. That’s because the urgency disappears. The need to have all the answers disappears. And the negative thought pattern disappears.

What you have left is clarity. Clarity to reevaluate what matters most to you and prioritize. Having a worry schedule will not only help aid your mental health in feelings of depletion, but also your physical symptoms caused by stress such as high blood pressure, insomnia, low energy and more. When you are balanced, you can do more. By having a worry schedule you can have your life back. 

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