Ioana Dulcu - Anxiety and Stress Online Therapy

Reduce Anxiety with This Powerful CBT Technique: Scheduling “Worry Time”

Do you feel like your worries and anxieties are taking over your life? Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed and helpless?

If so, first, you’re not alone. Described as a diffuse sense of worry, fear and threat lacking a specific focus, anxiety can hinder our ability to live a satisfying life.

It often feels like an endless loop of distressing thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations like a churning stomach, fast heart rate, face turning red or sweaty palms, making it challenging to concentrate on everyday tasks.

Second, there is a proven technique in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that can help us take control of intrusive thoughts and reduce anxiety: scheduling worry time.

In this article, we’ll explore what worry time is, how scheduling worry time or postponing worry can help you control anxiety, together with the benefits of including this technique into your daily routine.

What is worry time?

Although it may seem counterintuitive to intentionally schedule time for worry, this is an incredibly effective way to manage anxiety.

This technique involves deliberately setting aside time to think through your worries and ruminations. It’s like setting aside an appointment with your worries, and I know it might sound scary or you may even say, “This is impossible – I really can’t do that!”. But as soon you start practising, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

During this time, you will address whatever worries and ruminating thoughts you have. And whenever new worries visit you throughout the day, acknowledge them, thank them, and invite them kindly to go away and come back tomorrow at your designated time for them. You can say, “Okay, you’re a worrying thought, I see you, and I will get back to you tomorrow morning.”

However, being able to detach from worrying thoughts throughout the day requires self-awareness. That’s because worrying demands your full attention. You cannot just ignore it when it comes and cannot easily distract from it because it gets even intense. However, through practising mindfulness, you can develop this awareness by bringing yourself back to the present moment. This might involve focusing on your breath or other sensations in your body or simply observing your thoughts without getting caught up in them and not giving them credit.

A good technique to try is to imagine placing your worrying thoughts on leaves and watching them float away on a stream. This can help you to distance yourself from your worries and feel more at peace.

How does scheduling worrying time work to reduce anxiety?

Dedicate around fifteen minutes to this practice every day, at whatever time is best for you. I suggest you take this time in the morning so that you can start your day more in control of yourself and avoid getting stuck in a cycle of ruminating on stressful thoughts all day long. It should be a consistent and predictable time slot each day. Since you are here reading this article, why not take the first step and commit to a time right now?

Set a timer when you start your worry time and during this practice, allow yourself to focus on your list of worrying thoughts, giving them your full attention.

You can write them down. Write anything that is bothering you. Use a notebook, and think through them, “attacking” one fear at a time. Start with the most prevalent worries from the day before by thinking about how you feel about the worry when doing this exercise. Does it bother you as much now?

If no fear or worry from the other day comes to your mind, as that’s also normal, see what comes and let them unfold. You can also help by imagining a scenario of what you are most afraid of and the worst that might happen if that fear or worry comes true. Because you are now in a place where you are ready for these thoughts, by changing perspective and inviting them to you with curiosity rather than trying to get rid of or hide from them, you will be able to look at them in a different light.

Include details like how you are feeling, any sensations in your body, or what happens around you. And start writing about your fears and worries.

To establish a workflow, ask yourself the following questions: “Is it worthwhile to spend my time and energy worrying about this right now?” “What specific actions can I take today to make progress or resolve the issue causing me anxiety?” “Can I change anything that already happened in the past?” “What are the pros and cons of worrying about this right now?” List the advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, ask yourself, “What steps can I take now and in the future to improve my life?”

If you continue to experience discomfort when thinking about that fear after completing the writing part, allow yourself to sit with this feeling of discomfort. Don’t do anything else. Just acknowledge it and accept whatever emotions arise by being an observer of your thoughts.

Once your worry time is up, shift your attention towards more positive thoughts.

Scheduling worry time is a powerful tool for identifying patterns or triggers contributing to your anxiety.

Furthermore, by setting aside a predetermined time for worrying each day and delaying the rumination outside of this time frame, you can teach your mind to differentiate between productive and unproductive worries and gain a sense of control over your anxiety. This strategy can help to reduce feelings of overwhelm while allowing you to develop more effective coping mechanisms.

In addition, you will eventually realise that thoughts that once bothered you become less significant when delayed. Furthermore, by confronting your fears on a daily basis, you will build mental resilience to cope with anxiety.

Over time, scheduling worry time can help reduce your overall anxiety level. By confining your worries to a specific time of day, you may discover that you worry less throughout the day.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, if you’re struggling with anxiety, scheduling worrying time is a simple yet effective technique worth trying. By deliberately setting aside a specific time to address your worries, you’re taking control of your anxiety and reducing the amount of time you spend ruminating on your worries throughout the day.

With consistent practice, you’ll find that it becomes easier to manage your worries when they arise and control your anxiety. But remember to be patient with yourself.

Nevertheless, seeking professional help can make a huge difference if you continue to struggle with anxiety.

As a therapist, I have seen the positive impact that therapy can have on individuals struggling with anxiety. I am committed to helping my clients navigate their anxiety by providing a safe and non-judgmental space to explore their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. If you are struggling with anxiety and feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone and help is available. I invite you to reach out to me or another qualified therapist to begin your journey towards a more peaceful and rewarding life.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article, and I hope it provides valuable insights and strategies you can apply to reduce anxiety.

If you are looking for an anxiety therapist to work online at the moment, Get in touch with me today to explore how I can support you.