How to Worry LessFeb 09, 2023
I learn as much from my patients as they learn from me, which is a pretty wonderful “side effect” of the work I do.
Last fall, one of my patients shared a technique they were using successfully to stop worrying from interrupting sleep.
We’ve all been there. You wake up in the middle of the night, your brain kicks into overdrive with all the “what if’s…?” and “what am I going to do about…? and “will I be OK?” etc etc etc questions that can plague us. And sleep eludes you. And then you worry about not sleeping.
Such a vicious cycle.
Enter the The Worry Journal.
As my patient explained:
“I give myself permission to worry for 10-20 minutes per day by writing my worries in a journal. This technique is meant to help those of us who awaken in the night, for whatever reason, and then toss and turn for hours thinking about this and that. It's meant to train ourselves to confine our worrying to those 10-20 minutes in daylight only.”
This is a great example of mind/body retraining. Worry is indeed a habit, and you can train yourself to worry differently, with less impact on your well-being,
A few fine-tuning points:
Literally hand writing in a journal, vs typing on a computer or your phone, is often more potent for mind/body recalibration. That said, if you never write by hand, typing into a Worry Journal document will work just fine. But I encourage to try going “old school” with pen and paper.
The writing must happen during daylight hours. If you forget and it’s already dark, don’t journal. This is a great use of your phone: set a daily daytime reminder.
Set a timer while writing. Stopping writing when the timer goes off helps train your mind in the habit of how to Stop Worrying.
Like any habit, change can take some time. Commit to the Worry Journal for 21 Days. You may see changes right away, or it make take a bit of time.
If you try this out, please let me know how it goes for you.
May you sleep soundly without worry,