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Making time for worry

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you” – Dan Millman

Unfortunately, everyone worries from time to time. For some people, their worry can become intrusive or consuming, which can result in this worry interfering with their daily life. The main difference between ‘normal’ worrying and something more serious such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is that ‘normal’ worry does not cause significant distress, and does not get in the way of daily activities and responsibilities.

The Worry Box technique

The main objective of the worry box technique is to reschedule your worry thoughts to a later time, so you can be present in the moment. This technique is helpful for people who cannot just “stop thinking about it”, which is generally an ineffective strategy for people who struggle with obsessive thinking or worrying. The worry box technique allows people the assurance that there is a special time that is allocated for worrying, without having worry getting in the way of daily tasks.

Step 1: Schedule a time each day that is a distraction free time – a time that you will allocate to focus solely on the things that are worrying you.

Step 2: During the day, if you are experiencing a worrying thought, note the thought down on your phone or a piece of paper, and assure yourself that you will have time to come back to this worry. Writing or noting it down will act as a ‘mental release’ by placing your worries in a ‘mental box’ for later use.

Step 3: During your scheduled worry time, refer to the notes of worrying thoughts that were collected throughout the day. Make sure your worry time is limited and keep to the time.

If you are not able to put off the worry for later: Set a timer for 10-15 minutes to only focus on thinking about what is worrying you. However, once the timer rings, you need to put your worrymaside until your regular worry time.


Other helpful strategies for managing worry

  • Regular meditation and mindfulness practice
  • Writing down your worries as they pop up – particularly effective if you are having trouble sleeping.  A good tip is to keep a paper and pen near your bed.
  • Practicing grounding techniques when you are feeling overwhelmed by worrying thoughts common grounding strategy is to mentally focus on 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel and 2 things you can smell.


For more information and ideas on how to manage your worry:


Written by Celeste—ADAVIC Volunteer

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