Worry is a natural part of being human, but too little worry and we are apathetic while too much worry can be overwhelming. We worry about our children, our health, deadlines, traffic or how bills will get paid. How can you strike a balance to worry that promotes a healthy relationship with our thoughts?
Two recent research studies have led me to consider this question and create strategies to worry effectively and efficiently. You may have heard that knowledge is power, but my assertation is that application of knowledge is even more powerful. I would like to share with you these two easy-to-use steps for worry.
Step One: Can I do anything about this worry right now?
Step Two: You will use the appropriate rule below based on the answer to the above question.
4-Minute Worry Rule
Practice worrying in the moment. Research proves that we effectively come up with solutions to our problems within the first 4 minutes of problem solving. After the 4 minutes, our worry grows larger the more time we are spending thinking about it. You can set a timer or an alarm for 4 minutes, go into a safe place, and worry effectively uninterrupted. This space could be your dining room, living room, or porch, but shouldn’t be your bedroom. Your bedroom is your resting place to let go and gently fall asleep. When the timer or alarm goes off, you should move into a different room or place for a diversion activity, such as laundry, gardening, reading a book, or cooking. Most of us worry automatically, so this comes naturally. You will need to work on stopping your worry, but you can do it with patience and persistence!
30-Minute Worry Rule
Practice postponing your worry. Worry is persistent – it can make you feel as though you must engage with it right now. But you can experiment with postponing hypothetical worry, and many people find that this allows them to have a different relationship with their worries. In practice, this means deliberately setting aside time each day to let yourself worry (e.g. 30 minutes or less in the middle of each day). It can feel like an odd thing to do at first! It also means that for the other 23.5 hours in the day you try to let go of the worry until you get to your ‘worry time’.
Worry can lead to anxiety, depression, and additional health concerns, but with these simple steps you can gain power over your mind. I hope these rules help you to achieve freedom from worry. It all starts with a yes or a no!