Managing worry – Self Help Guide

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Worry can cause us to feel anxious.  We can only focus on what might go wrong, it stops us from doing things we want to do and keep us awake at night; managing worry can help.

To help you with managing worry, here’s some tips:

Make time in your day to sit quietly and reflect on what is on your mind and what you are worried about.  Try to do this early in the day so things are not playing on your mind when you go to bed.

It can often help to write down your worries, because sometimes we worry about forgetting about things that are on our mind.

During your worry period, think about:

  • worries are ‘what if’ type worries?
  • the worries that are about past events?
  • which worries are about the future?
  • the worries can you manage or influence?

‘What if’ worries and past worries are generally things that we have no control over.  The past has been and gone and we cannot change it. There are usually multiple ‘what if’ worries for every scenario that you can envisage. Most are about catastrophes, so that’s a lot of time and effort going into worrying about things that might never happen.  It can help to write each worry onto a piece of paper and then rip them up into tiny pieces to help let them go.

Schedule your worries

For worries about future events, decide on a date in the future when you can revisit the worry.  At that point, you can establish if it still a worry and what you can do about it. Aim to make an action plan nearer the time when you perhaps have more information. For instance, worrying what you will do to accommodate your growing family for Christmas lunch this year.  If you are worrying about this kind of thing in July, that’s months of worrying that is going to take up your time and sap your energy.  Instead, chose a date, say, in November to think about it.  By then, you may have decided to go away for Christmas.  Perhaps some of your family might be going on holiday or spending time with their partner’s family.  So you’ll have more information to be able to determine whether it is still something you need to worry about.  Then is the time to turn it into an action plan, breaking it down into manageable tasks.

Managing worry and turning worries in to actions

This approach changes a nagging worry into a planned problem solving exercise.  You can come up with ideas and steps for dealing with it and then put the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions.

You could also try some breathing exercises or mindfulness to help calm your mind – see our other self-help guides on these subjects.

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