Worry Time Technique
Carrying on from previous GAD posts, I thought I’d introduce everyone to the worry time technique we use in CBT to help manage hypothetical worries. Just to remind everyone these are the worries we have no control over and tend to start with “what if”. This technique is called worry time.
I know this technique might seem a little strange at first, but it can be really effective for helping people manage their anxiety and hypothetical worries more effectively. It has 4 steps which I will discuss in this post.
Worry Time Technique Processes
1️⃣ Pick your worry time period -we advise anywhere between 6pm-8pm (but whatever works best for yourself in the evening) and no longer than 20 minutes. Just ensure it’s not to close to bedtime.
2️⃣ Write down your worries – throughout the day, keep a list of your hypothetical worries. This can be done pen and paper, on the notes section on your phone or you could download the reach out worry time on your App Store if you have an iPhone.
3️⃣ Refocus on the present – this will be the hardest step, but it’s important to park the worry and refocus on the present moment. By disengaging with this worry, your anxiety should start to reduce. As we previously discussed, we have no control over hypothetical worries so we need to learn how to let them go. Keep reminding yourself you have your worry time to focus on this worry later on, fully refocus on the task you’re currently working on or start a new one. Maybe try a relaxation technique at this point (see my previous posts for some examples). The aim of this step is to try and focus on something else/present moment as this will reduce anxiety. You’ll probably find yourself going between steps 2/3 a lot!
4️⃣ Use your worry time – sit down in a quiet space with no distractions and use your 20 minutes to worry! Look at your list and work your way through your worries. You might look at them and they may no longer be a problem or might even laugh when you look back at some of them. Put a cross through them is that’s the case. The whole point of this step is not to solve the worry (you can’t they’re hypothetical), but it’s to make you more in control of your worrying thoughts!