It's safe to say there are no shortage of things to be worried about right now in our society. Whether your chronic worry stems from the increased political and racial tension, or the daily impact the pandemic has on your life, chronic worrying can lead to increased anxiety, stress, or depressed mood.
Scheduling a "worry window" is one of my go to CBT techniques when I work with clients who are struggling with chronic worry throughout the day.
When we are consumed with worry, not only can we experience some uncomfortable physical sensations, like tightness in the chest, tense muscles, or shallow breathing (just to name a few!) but we miss out on the opportunity to be emotionally present and enjoy what is happening around us.
Schedule ten minutes each day as your designated "worry window" where you can write down your worrisome thoughts. If you are noticing worried thoughts coming to the surface before your scheduled time, practice "noticing" the thought. Noticing the thought leads to having a gentle awareness of the thought. I'd like you to then visualize placing that thought in a "worry box." After closing the lid, see yourself putting the box back up on a shelf. You can remind yourself that your thought will get the time and attention it deserves during your scheduled worried time.
Here are some quick tips for making "worry time" a success:
Pair worry time with something you enjoy like having a cup of tea, or getting outside for a quick walk
Schedule worry time for the same time each day (not only does it make it easier to remember, but also helps train your brain to put the worry on the shelf until the designated time)
Recognize which worries you have some control over, and those that you don't. For the worries that you may have no control over, try visualizing yourself inhaling the worry and slowly exhaling the thought. You may want to try visualizing the worry floating away from your body on the exhale.
Take a look back at your entries each week. Are there any common themes to your worries? Were you able to identify any triggers to the worries that you may have overlooked?
A "worry window" is just one of the many amazing CBT tools that you can add in your coping skill tool box to help reduce the frequency and intensity of your thoughts.