You have mixed feelings about your worries. On the one hand, your worries are bothering you and you can’t sleep, and you can’t get these negative thoughts out of your head. But there is a way that these
worries make sense to you. Maybe you think, if I keep going over this ….
– I’ll find a solution;
– I don’t want to overlook anything;
– If I keep thinking a little longer, maybe I’ll figure it out;
– I don’t want to be surprised, so I’ve got to think of every possible angle;
– I want to be responsible.
You have a hard time giving up on your worries because, in a sense, your worries have been working
But It’s hard to be productive in your day to day life when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts.
What can you do? If you’re like many chronic worriers, your anxious thoughts feel uncontrollable.
You’ve tried lots of things, from distracting yourself, reasoning with your worries, and trying to think positive, but nothing seems to work. “Thought stopping” backfires because it forces you to pay extra attention to the very thought you want to avoid. You always have to be watching for it, and this very emphasis makes it seem even more important.
Self Help Tip – Learn to postpone worrying:
1. Create a “worry period.” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same
every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t
make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry
about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
2. Postpone your worry. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day,
make a brief note of it on paper and postpone it to your worry period. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now. Save
it for later and continue to go about your day.
3. Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. Reflect on the worries you wrote
down during the day. If the thoughts are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about
them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. If the worries
don’t seem important any more, cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.
Postponing worrying is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on worries in the present
moment. Yet there’s no struggle to suppress the thought or judge it. You simply save it for later. As
you develop the ability to postpone your anxious thoughts, you’ll start to realize that you have more
control over your worrying than you think.