Techniques To Manage Worry – Part 1

Techniques To Manage Worry – Part 1

by Dr Katherine Mollart - 10th November, 2015

Techniques to manage worry – Part One

Next time you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself ‘what am I worrying about? Can I actually do anything about this?’ If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, try problem solving.

Problem solving involves the following 6 steps:

Step 1: Identify/Define Problem
Try to state the problem as clearly as possible. Be objective and specific about the behaviour, situation, timing, and circumstances that make it a problem. Describe the problem in terms of what you can observe rather than subjective feelings.

Step 2: Generate Possible Solutions/Options
List all the possible solutions. Be creative and forget about the quality of the solutions. Then, eliminate the less desirable or unreasonable alternatives after as many possible solutions have been listed. Finally, list the remaining options in order of preference.

Step 3: Evaluate Alternatives
Evaluate the top 3 or 4 solutions in terms of their advantages and disadvantages.

Step 4: Decide On A Plan
Based on this evaluation, decide on the best one solution. Specify who will take action, when the plan will be implemented and how the plan will be implemented.

Step 5: Implement Plan
Implement your plan as specified above.

Step 6: Evaluate the Outcome
Evaluate how effective the plan was. Decide whether the existing plan needs to be revised, or whether a new plan is needed to better address the problem. If you are not pleased with the outcome, return to Step 2 to select a new solution or revise the existing plan, and repeat the remaining steps.

Having a good action plan to deal with real problems in your life will minimise your need to worry. However, next time you find yourself worrying about something, and you ask yourself ‘Can I actually do anything about this?’ and the answer is ‘no’, its probably an unsolvable worry. Postponing your worry will be most helpful to you at these times. Postponement involves “putting to the side” or “parking” the negative thought for now.

Postponing negative thoughts means that it is perfectly OK and natural for an initial “what if” negative thought to pop into your mind (e.g., “What if I fail my exam?”), but you make a decision not to ‘chase’ the thought any further at that particular time.

Not chasing the negative thought further means that you don’t try to anticipate the worst or run scenarios related to your initial thought through your head over and over again (e.g., “It will be a disaster, I will be a failure, I will get kicked out of uni, I won’t be able to find a job, maybe I should pull out of my course,” etc).

Instead, you postpone thinking about your worry until a later time. This will help contain your worrying to one part of the day, rather than carrying it with you 24/7.

Part 2 will talk you through how to postpone your worries, click below to navigate.


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