Experiment to Ease Your Worries

Woman Worrying

MSNBC recently reported on a psychological study that tested a new therapy to relieve anxiety and worry. Worry is a constant plague on busy people: maybe even you are a constant worrier. The trouble is that when you’re worrying all the time, you have a much harder time doing anything to fix the things that are worrying. In this recent study, researchers in the Netherlands introduced a number of worry-ridden individuals to a new way of dealing with it.

The theory behind the method is that those burdened with worry will lighten their loads if they compartmentalize their thoughts. Participants in the study were supposed to have a specific 30-minute block of time every day in which they could worry about problems and consider solutions to them. There were also guidelines on how to greet worry when it was encountered outside the 30-minute block.

When an individual started worrying, he or she was supposed to complete four steps:

  • Identify and realize you are worrying.
  • Set aside a time and place to think about the worrying details.
  • Postpone worrying until you are at that place at that time; focus on what you’re doing now instead.
  • Use the set-aside time and place to think about and try to develop solutions to worrying problems.

The study showed that even just identifying you’re worrying will improve your response, but those who completed all four steps did better. This method significantly reduced worrying and anxiety.

The researchers emphasize that their findings are strictly preliminary—the number of people they studied was too small to draw general conclusions about everyone. They also pointed out that the method may have had a placebo effect: because the people being studied were taking some form of action against their worries, they may have created their own improvements.

Still, even if the effect is a placebo, it’s still effective in some way. If you find yourself incessantly worrying about everything and anything that’s going on in your life, try out this new worrying method. Pick a worry spot (preferably not somewhere you’re supposed to relax, like your bed) and relegate all worries for the time you can visit it. If doing that helps you, then whether or not the Dutch researchers are able to prove it as an effective method, you’re still more worry-free and productive than you were before. That sort of result is definitely worth a little experimenting.

Image by africa via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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