by Staci Sharik, MSW Intern
Scheduling anxiety? Why would I want to schedule a time to be anxious? Anxiety is an emotion that we all have experienced in some form and it can be overwhelming at times. Even though anxiety is a part of life, frequent anxiety can lead to long-term emotional and physical damage. If you are someone who feels overwhelmed by anxiety, this may be a helpful tool for you.
Too much anxiety is bad. What is next?
A very popular and evidenced-based therapy technique that addresses how to manage anxiety and a variety of overwhelming emotions is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). One of the primary ideas behind this therapy is the idea that we have more control over our thoughts than we often realize, which in turn helps us manage and cope with unpleasant emotions. CBT suggests a number of coping skills such as mindfulness through physical grounding and deep breathing, along with more cognitive practices such as “catching'' negative thoughts and checking them against reality (Lee & Edget, 2012). As helpful and effective as many of these practices may be, it is also important to recognize that anxiety is often an inevitable part of life. How can we live alongside stress and the worries that may develop? By scheduling anxiety.
Steps To Scheduling Anxiety:
Schedule a time each day for a one week period. 15-30 minutes is the recommended time to set aside to think through your worries and sit with your anxious thoughts. It is recommended to set aside a time not too close to bedtime in order to keep this practice from affecting your sleep.
During this scheduled 15-30 minute anxiety time, think of anything that may be worrisome to you and sit with those thoughts. This is not necessarily a time to problem solve, unless that feels appropriate for you. Writing down some of these worries is often helpful in order to process what is really going on inside.
Have a plan at the end of your anxiety time. Schedule time with a friend, a movie night, or something that will help you stop your anxious thoughts so that your 15 minutes does not turn into an hour.
Stick to your anxiety schedule. If you feel anxious thoughts creeping into your mind during different times of the day, try to recognize those thoughts and tell yourself “I’ll worry about those later”, which if you are sticking to your anxiety schedule, hopefully you will! This step is crucial in building that trust with yourself, knowing that you will do your best to stick with this schedule and give those feelings a time and place.
At the end of your week reflect on your anxiety times. If you found journaling helpful during your times of anxiety, look at some of your common or recurring anxious thoughts. What do these patterns tell you about what is going on in your heart and mind this week?
At Graceful Therapy we recognize that there is never a “one size fits all” solution for most difficulties in our lives, anxiety included. However, we do hope that this practice gives you hope as it is one of the many things you could practice in an effort to address and combat feelings of anxiety you may be experiencing. If anxiety seems to play a large role in your life, consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist at Graceful Therapy. We would love to walk alongside you in this journey towards peace and healing.
Lee, S. A., & Edget, D. M. (Eds.). (2012). Cognitive behavioral therapy: Applications, methods
and outcomes. Nova Science Publisher’s.