How 10 Minutes Of 'Worry Time' Can Lead To Happier Days

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Worry generally doesn't contain itself. It has a way of taking on a life of its own and following us around all day. This is probably why experts would tell you that you should stop worrying about what others think or that excessive worrying will wreak havoc on your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Yes, constant worrying can lead to headaches, depression, fatigue, and even gastrointestinal issues. 

But despite its own nature to grow from a tiny grain of sand to a looming mountain, it is possible for you to control worry's movement. This is why health professionals recommend "worry time." As the name denotes, "worry time" is all about scheduling or postponing worrying to a specific time of your day. It could last 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or even 30. That depends on you, but the idea is to not let anxious thoughts ruin your entire day.

Think about the last time you woke up in the morning and checked your phone. Remember that text message or email that planted a seed of worry in your head? How did that day go for you? Did you carry the worry in the back of your mind for the rest of the day? Did it pile on or evolve into something bigger because you simply didn't let it go? Recommended as part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), "worry time" is a successful way to de-escalate all-consuming worry. Here's what it can do for you. 

'Worry time' can help you stay in the present and also make tackling worries more effective

If you want happier moments where you can learn to live in the present, "worry time" might be your answer. So often, we miss out on what's happening right in front of us by worrying about something in the past or future. By moving your worries to one part of your day, you're freeing precious space in your mind to enjoy the present moment. 

Contrary to what you may think, worrying alone doesn't accomplish anything. It's what you do with that worry that matters. "Worry time" could actually help you do something about the things that are bothering you. As psychotherapist and author of "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," Amy Morin, shared in Psychology Today, "Rather than ruminating (which involves dwelling on the problem), you'll be more likely to look for a solution when you know there's a clear limit to how much time you can spend thinking about an issue." If something is within your control, try and solve it within the time frame you've set aside to worry. If it isn't, move the item to your list for tomorrow. Sometimes, the things you decided to postpone to worry about during the day may have even resolved themselves by the time you reach "worry time."

For particularly anxious people, "worry time" is an exercise in disciplining their thoughts. 

Here's how you can schedule 'worry time' into your day

Without being anxious all day, choose a time of day to worry. Some might recommend afternoons while others may say early evenings. Whatever you do, avoid mornings and the time right before bed. You should ideally start your day off on the right footing and end it on a happy note, too. 

Setting a timer — 10 or 15 minutes — when you reach "worry time" is also crucial. It might be good to stick to the allotted time every day, but it won't hurt to have a backup "worry time" either, just in case you miss your scheduled slot on some days. A quiet place minus distractions is best, but clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff also recommended (via Verywell Mind) choosing an uncomfortable space to do the worrying in, just so that you'll keep it prompt. She advised against going to bed or your favorite couch because you don't want to spoil happy places with potentially stressful experiences. Once you're done, engage in an activity that makes you happy. 

The next tip is to carry a "worry notebook" with you throughout the day or even use one of the many "worry time" apps out there. Whenever an anxious thought enters your mind, jot it down. Then turn your thoughts toward something happier or productive that needs your attention in the moment. "If you catch yourself worrying outside your allotted time, remind yourself that you'll worry later," advised Morin.