How to Stop Worrying – A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Technique for Anxiety and Depression
Everyone has triggers that set automatic negative paths in motion due to specific types of situations. In order to address one’s triggers, the therapist, with the patient, often needs to identify which situations are difficult and trigger negative thoughts. It is helpful to ask the patient to monitor their feelings and/or behaviours and identify in which situations their feelings are stronger and/or their behaviours are more extreme. People with anxiety usually worry, but people who feel depressed, guilty, ashamed, and angry also frequently worry. These worries come from predicting bad things that might happen.
In my clinical practice over the years, I have come across people who worry about all sorts of things. What are your worries? Do you worry about failure? Rejection? Missing out? Change? Losing control? Being judged? Something bad happening? Getting hurt?
So how can we stop worrying?
Well, first let’s understand this: worrying can be a good thing if it’s done in a productive manner. But if we don’t deal with our worries in a healthier way, then we are disconnected, disengaged, and distracted from life, and this often can cause anxiety, depression, and other psychological suffering.
So how can we deal with our worries in a healthier way? A technique that often people find helpful is to schedule a “worry time” and make a “worry list”. The “worry list” would consist of what you think will happen, and not what you will feel. A concrete list of worries is very useful because it can help manage anxiety. By writing out your worries, you may realize that a lot of your worries are unrealistic. Also, you can start problem solving for the worries that are reasonable. Making a list helps pause the automatic negative paths. This process can actually also encourage you to put more effort on problem solving instead of being stuck on your worries.
Josefowitz, N., & Myran, D. (2017). CBT made simple: A clinician’s guide to practicing cognitive behavioral therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.