If you’re stressed-out, scheduling a specific time to worry about your problems is an offbeat but effective way to reduce anxiety. It may sound counter-intuitive—worrying is part of what’s causing you stress, after all—but when you give worry a time all to itself, you’ll find it waits more patiently for its turn and bothers you less during the rest of the day. Here’s what to do:
Pick a portion of the day when you’ll have some uninterrupted space to be your worry-time. This can be a specific hour, or it can be a looser time—between lunch and picking your child up from preschool, or while you do chores, for example. It doesn’t matter what time of day, but it does need to be a specific, measurable time when you mind won’t be distracted by other things. If you choose to worry while you’re doing a chore, make sure it’s something your body can do on autopilot, and don’t worry at bedtime. Treat worry as you would a friend; make sure you choose a time when you will be able to devote your full attention to it.
Once you have made your appointment with worry, stick to it. When you find nagging fears or problems crossing your mind outside of worry-time, gently brush them away; assure them that you’ve made time for them later in the day, and when that time comes they’ll get to have their say. Then, when that time comes, put everything else out of your mind and just…worry. Let all the thoughts you put aside have their say, one at a time. Give each one your full attention. When time is up, put aside any lingering worries, tell them you will address them in your next worry-time, and go on with your day. With a little practice, this becomes second nature.