Six weeks ago I wrote an in-depth post on what I've learnt at CBT, and a lot of people seemed quite intrigued by Worry Time. So for anyone that wanted it, here's a much more detailed post on this technique.
I admit, I'm a worrier. I overthink, I replay situations and scenarios, I get myself worked up, anxious, on edge, on the verge of tears. But since I've been doing Worry Time, I've noticed a massive change in my mental health. Not only do I not write as many worries down, I challenge my negative and/or intrusive thoughts immediately and solve them without having to come back to them later. Basically, I think about things differently, and I'm grateful I learnt this technique.
With Worry Time, you pick a time of the day that you're going to worry; I know it sounds ridiculous and it honestly took a lot of practice, but stay with me. I decided on 6 pm. When I got up, if I had any worries, I'd write them down and try my best not to give them any more time, once they were on paper, to interfere with my day. Then at 6 pm, I'd go back to my planner/notebook/whatever and look at what I had been worrying about earlier on and try to solve them with a clear, objective mind.
My Worry Time would look something like this (these are examples):
- Call train company to complain about shitty accessibility
- Scary hospital test results
- Nasty message on Twitter from stranger
- Person considered a friend constantly being a dick
And so on. I used to have four to five points per day, sometimes the same, sometimes different, always something.
Are they my worry? Am I worrying about someone and have no control over the outcome? Is it worth worrying about? How can I stop worrying about this? Do I have to worry about this now? I'd wait for 6 o' clock to roll around and get my planner back out and challenge all the above concerns I had by writing responses, like this:
- You deserve to be treated like you matter and they need to know they failed you. You got this
- This is out of your hands, you'll know more when you see your consultant
- Fuck them. They don't know you and their opinion of you means nothing
- You don't need people like that in your life. You've got plenty of other amazing friends. Bye
I'm not going to lie, a lot of my solutions were, 'move on', or 'fuck them'. I was giving far too much time to people that didn't matter, didn't know me, or I didn't give a shit about, and I was letting it control so much of my life that I lived in an anxiety-filled bubble.
Thinking clearly and rationally about things that are damaging your life, your mind, is difficult. You're not going to start implementing Worry Time and master it in a day. It's demanding as hell changing your thought pattern, it's definitely not an easy ride and it certainly won't work for everyone but it's worth giving it a go.
Don't feel defeated if you can't solve a worry, or can't pinpoint what it is you're worrying about, sometimes it's a whole truckload of intertwining things. Try your best to narrow it down as much as possible and take days/weeks/months (however long you need) to work through it. A solution might be extremely tough, and you don't have the strength to do it yet but if it's a recurring worry, you'll notice a pattern that you'll need to eventually break. For example, a manipulative friend, you know you should cut ties but can't do it just yet. But they continue to make your life stressful, how much can you handle? Do you have to talk to them about their behaviour or could you just stop replying to messages?
Also consider talking to someone that you trust to help you come up with answers to your worries. I found it beneficial bouncing ideas around with my boyfriend when I couldn't think clearly or had no idea what to do. Someone else's point of view can give a lot of clarity.
Being able to see my worries on paper really helped me and made me view them differently. Especially when I was fundraising for my wheelchair, some of my negative thoughts were ridiculous when I looked back on them. I was overthinking absolutely everything and it was such a destructive pattern.
I think my attitude has changed a lot, especially with how I let others affect me. I have a new approach to life and don't give weight to opinions of people that don't matter to me. My outlook regarding various family members and acquaintances has changed, and I don't waste my time thinking about what any of them might think of me. I'm not desensitised or uncaring, my problem was I cared far too much. Now my attention is spread out evenly to those that matter, and if a harmful situation arises I know how to handle it better.
Obviously, I still have down days and I still worry about certain things but it doesn't consume me or eat me up on the inside like it used to. I'm on the right track with my mental health and I have a bag of tricks to pull out if something triggering occurs.
Have you tried Worry Time?