Techniques To Manage Worry – Part 2by Dr Katherine Mollart - 10th November, 2015
Techniques to manage worry – part 2
How to postpone worries
1. Set a ‘thinking time’ - Nominate a set time, length of time, and place, to do all your thinking about worrisome things. – Try and keep your thinking time the same everyday (e.g., 6pm, 15mins, dining room). Try not to set your thinking time before bed.
• When you notice yourself worrying about something during the day, say something to yourself like “it’s OK to have that thought, but I don’t need to chase it any further right now”.
• Decide to think about it later and save your thoughts for your ‘thinking time’.
• Bring your attention back to the present task at hand and reassure yourself that you will deal with the negative thoughts later.
• If the thought pops back again (which it likely will), this is not a sign that postponement hasn’t worked, after all we can’t control what pops into our head. What we are postponing is further thinking, spiralling, chasing or snowballing of those thoughts.
3. When you get to your thinking time:
• You don’t have to think about them if they no longer bother you, or if they no longer seem relevant to you.
• If you realize the issue that is bothering you is actually something solvable, then do some problem solving on paper.
• If the issue is something you recognise you may be overreacting to, try to think about it in a more helpful, balanced, realistic way.
• If the issue is not something you can take action with or think about differently, continue to postpone it for now.
• Finally, it is often good to follow your thinking time with some activity that you know lifts your mood (e.g., certain music, book or TV show, a walk, time with pets, chatting to a friend, etc).
Common postponement pitfalls:
• Getting angry with yourself or saying things like “stop it” or “push it away”, are signs that you are trying to suppress the thoughts, which will only make the thoughts come back stronger.
• Giving up when the thoughts pop back. A thought may only pop up once, but it could pop up 10 times or 100 times. Having to repeatedly postpone the same thought doesn’t mean postponement hasn’t worked. Remember we aren’t changing what pops into our head, but we are changing how we respond.
• Any rational thinking is fine in your designated thinking time, but avoid using it in the moment to respond to a negative thought that has popped up. Instead acknowledge and accept the thought, and immediately disengage from further thinking until your thinking time.
• Some people avoid thinking time because of anticipating it will be unpleasant. Remember you don’t have to think about things that are no longer important to you in thinking time. For those that do still seem important, try to engage in helpful and constructive thinking.
To recap Part 1 of this blog, click below to navigate.