Many clients are concerned with the amount of attention they give to worry in their lives. Worry is a waste of your emotional energy as it does not change a thing in your life – you know this but you do it anyway. You persist in adding clouds in your otherwise sunny life.
You have probably tried to distract yourself or to argue with your cognitive distortions, such as future catastophyzing, that are attached to your worry and exacerbate your worries. For some, this does work. In fact, the exercise of managing your thoughts changes your life. But there is another idea that can really work for some and that is to use action in response to your worry.
The brain really wants you to do something with the worry thought. Most of the time there is an idea that if I think about it enough, it will reduce that worry. So for some, trying to reduce the worry takes a Herculean effort. Deciding to take action, however, can be very helpful. Taking any small action helps. There are 2 methods that you can try when your worry feels out of control. Both are called the 5-4-3-2-1 method. The first is a grounding technique. Begin with deep breaths. Then do the following:
1. Name 5 things in your environment that you can see. 2. Name 4 things you can touch 3. Name 3 things you can hear 4. Name 2 things you can smell 5. Name 1 thing you can taste.
It can also be helpful to tap your feet on the ground. This exercise helps to ground you and to calm your nervous system. Practice this each time you sense of worry thought that is taking hold of you.
The next exercise is one where you decide to take any action immediately after you have recognized that you are worrying. You use the phrase, 5-4-3-2-1 and then immediately take some kind of action that will get you moving. This is the 5 second method that Mel Robbins (YouTube) recommends. Try it – I think it could really make a change in your worry life. Remember that unless you make these ideas habits, they just remain more information and won’t make a difference in your life.
Go forth and be Wonderful!