Many of us worry about different things. If you asked people what they worry about, you probably hear health, money and finances, job security, family, relationships or moving somewhere new. On the whole, people recognise that many things in life can be stressful. Life is full of uncertainties and things that are out of your control. There is just so much to worry about and it is difficult to stop.
- Realistic worries
The first type includes all those things that are a real worry, because a real problem has been found. The second includes all those possibilities that might come true, but at present there is nothing to suggest that it is likely.
Many of us fall in to the first category. Some of us also fall in to the second category as well. If you can’t stop worrying, then you may meet the criteria for something called Generalised Anxiety (GAD). There are specific evidence-based therapeutic approaches for this, which are available in the NHS and private sectors.
Stopping your worry might seem as likely as getting a two year old to be reasonable. But what can you do and where do you begin? The answer lies in applying problem-solving. Some researchers define worry as a chain reaction of negative predictions and thoughts that lead to no satisfactory solution. In effect, worrying is what you do until you’ve worked out what it is that can be done. It is the opposite to effective problem-solving.
If you go with this explanation, then the following seven Steps are a useful guide for tackling worries that are within your control:
Step 1: Describe the problem specifically. What is it? How does it affect you? When does it happen? What are the consequences of this problem as it is now?
Step 2: Make an exhaustive list of all the possible options/solutions. Include everything that you can think of, no matter how ridiculous. Ask others for ideas. At this point, you are just making a list rather than thinking through how useful it is
Step 3: List the advantages and disadvantages of each option on your list.
Step 4: Chose the most preferable option.
Step 5: Develop a plan of action to implement the preferred option and carry it out.
Step 6: Reflect on and write down what you observed in the implementation and effects of your preferred option. Review how well it went and make any necessary adjustments and modifications.
Step 7: Implement your modifications.
This is a step-by-step approach to problem-solving, which is part of the evidence-based treatments for people with excessive worry-related problems. At first, it may seem labour-intensive and you may be put off going through all the steps. But, it is helpful to go through each step thoroughly in order to get the best from it. Similarly, if you think it will take too long, add up all the time that you have been worrying about the problem and compare this to how long you the exercise is likely to take. I reckon that you may be surprised by how much time in total you’ve spent worrying.
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