Why You Should Plan Your Stress

All day, every day: an hour of stress. While all you might want to do is push your worries away, if you really want a sense of control, you need to tackle them with intent . To do this, allocate a certain time to do nothing but stress. Here’s what you need to know about the effective “worry break” and why it might be the right method for you.

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Why you need to make time for worry

Of course, it sounds illogical to rely on all the thoughts that cause discord in you. Isn’t that a recipe for spiral growth?

The idea of ​​a designated worry break is not to give in to all the stress, but to focus your worry time on a kind of productive “session”. Stressful thoughts find a way to invade and disrupt your daily life. By scheduling a separate window of time to deal with them, you can focus on other things throughout the day.

It’s all about more effective stress—like diving straight into cold water, rather than torturing yourself by diving in and out of it a little at a time.

I want to emphasize that your worry break will not just be a horrendous fifteen minutes when your anxiety takes over and then you are expected to shut down when the timer runs out. Instead, your goal will be to identify and address each of your worries, which will hopefully lead to some sort of action plan to help you regain control of your day.

How to set up a worry break

The first step is the easiest, if you really stick to it: choose a time to stress. Mark it on your calendar, set a reminder, and don’t take responsibility. To get started, set aside 15 or so minutes once a week.

When the scheduled worry break arrives, it’s stress time. But the key is to emphasize constructively.

Try to put your fears into words. Writing them down as a list is tricky, but in the long run, it’s great practice. It helps to take the abstract, overwhelming emotions surrounding each element of stress and then turn them into something that bothers you on a more concrete (and manageable) level.

Then devote time to each item on your list. Circle the ones that are supposedly under your control. For example, ” my purpose in life ” is too abstract to address in this 15-minute session. However, something like “make time for family ” is a starting point for creating practical solutions. For each element of stress, try brainstorming several potential solutions, such as ” ask ____ for help ” or ” set a date that’s right .”

Not every source of stress has a workable solution; in fact, the lack of obvious solutions is probably the source of your stress. In this case, coping strategies are also considered a “solution”. Find ways to deal with stress, such as the 15 ideas listed here .

Questions to help you relax

As you get used to paying attention to your stressful thoughts, ask yourself some probing questions:

  • Is this anxiety within my control?
  • What aspects of this problem are within my control and/or beyond my control?
  • What mental disorders exacerbate this stress?
  • How would I approach this if I had unlimited time and resources?
  • What prevents me from overcoming this obstacle?
  • How do I really feel about this stress?
  • What is the ideal outcome in this situation?
  • What is the first step I can take?

All of these questions are the starting point for brainstorming actions and coping strategies. It is important to reflect and address your thoughts, otherwise their force invading your mind will only increase .

Remember that your goal is to constructively emphasize

The biggest mistakes you can make during your worry breaks are (1) not brainstorming an action plan and (2) not following through on the action plan. Remember that your goal is to turn abstract, overwhelming concerns into simple solutions. If you’re struggling to hold yourself accountable, reach out to a trusted friend who can check the status of your action plan.

One final note: once the time is up, force yourself to shift gear . Unless you’re really ready to put together your action plan, you don’t want that one-minute break to turn into a multi-hour spiral. Remember that you’ve scheduled another worry break on your calendar, but in the meantime, you can focus your energy on other things.

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