“Worry Time”: A Way to Deal with Worrying

By Robert H. Phillips, Ph.D.

So you spend a lot of time worrying? Do your worries intrude on the things you’re doing? Do they intrude on the more positive things that you may be feeling? If so, you’re not alone.

Have you said to yourself, “I have to stop worrying?” That does you a lot of good, right? Is there anything you can do about this? Yes! Establish “worry time!”

What is worry time? This is a period of time that you designate (such as for 15 minutes every evening at 8:00 PM), during which you allow yourself to worry to your heart’s content. This is the time to really get into your worries. Have “a worry orgy!” You may want to write down the things you’re worrying about or write things that you can do about what you’re worrying about.

How is this going to help? Although spending time worrying about all the things that are troubling you may not be thrilling, it will help you to reduce the intrusion of worrisome thoughts during the rest of the day.

At these other times, if you find yourself starting to worry, tell yourself, “ this is not the “right” time to worry. I must save this until my “worry time”, and then I will worry about it.” You’ll be amazed at how helpful this can be.

Why does this work?

Sometimes a sure way to be miserable is to keep trying to block your worries out of your mind. Easy? Forget it! It seems as though a little voice inside your head won’t let you push away these thoughts. That little voice is afraid you won’t let yourself think about it at any other time, either.

So reassure that little voice. Tell it that you have “worry time”. You’ll find it much easier to temporarily push these thoughts away. In fact, you may even find that when worry times comes around, you don’t even feel the need to worry. But if it’s important to worry about a certain thing, jot down what it is, so you’ll have it to worry about when the right time comes.

Let’s take an example.

Mary, age 34, worried all day long, and it interfered with almost everything she tried to do. Every time she noticed that she was worrying, she tried to push the thoughts out of her mind. This created even more tension for her.

So she decided to implement “worry time.” She established each evening from 7:00 to 7:15 as her worry time. If something was particularly important, she wrote it down in a handy little notebook. At 7:00, she instructed the members of her family to leave her alone for the next 15 minutes. She went into a quiet room, sat down with her little notebook and worried! At 7:15 sharp, she stood up, and told herself, “My worrying is over for the day. I will next worry tomorrow at 7:00.”

Obviously, this may not be a solution all the time. There are times that your thoughts may be so intrusive that you may worry (heaven forbid) at other times during the day!

Is there anything you can do about this? Well, if you find that you have a lot of things to worry about, you may want to start with two worry times! Maybe you’ll schedule one in the morning and one in the evening. Or you may want your worry time to be a little longer.

Remember: This is your tool. Experiment with it to figure out how you can make the technique work best for you.

Other Uses

Many people have found that this technique works for other reactions or emotions as well. For example, many people have trouble coping because they often feel sorry for themselves. Feelings of self-pity can interfere with what you’re doing, especially if your self-esteem suffers.

So you might want to establish a regularly scheduled “pity time!” During these times, you’d sit down and do nothing but feel sorry for yourself! This may help you to successfully remove these thoughts from most of the rest of your day.

Yes, this may sound laughable, but you’ll have the last laugh when you try it and see how well it helps you to better deal with these thoughts.

Can you see how you could also modify this technique to be called “depression time,” “angry time,” “guilty time,” and so on? Wow!

Your use of this technique is only limited by your imagination! So set up your time, decide what you’re going to think about during that time, and enjoy how this helps to improve your thoughts, and your actions, during the rest of the day.


How Can We Help?

Many people from all over the world have benefited from the successful, strategy-packed mental health services offered by The Coping Counselors at the Center for Coping. You can, too!

  • If you have questions about any of the issues you are dealing with, why not set up a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Coping Counselors?
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