According to a report published by National Statistics, an independent research body, one in six adults aged 16 to 74 years have a common disorder such as anxiety. Clients who suffer from anxiety should benefit from cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT as it is often called. CBT is a form of therapy recommended by the NHS as the best treatment for anxiety-based conditions, including phobias.
Here are some exercises I use with my own clients and which you may find helpful to adapt for yours. (There’s too much for one post, so I’ve made it into a 3-part mini-series.)
How to Worry Constructively
If you stopped worrying completely you would be of little value to yourself or to anyone else. A certain amount of worry makes you feel better and gets you to check your actions – so keep on worrying. However, did you know that 39% of the things you worry about never happen, 32% of things you worry about have already happened, 21% of your worries are over trivialities and only 9% of your worries relate to important issues where you have legitimate cause for concern.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s concentrate on that 9% and put the other 91% behind you. Learn to recognise what is important and what is not
Keep a worry notebook
A worry notebook will help you worry constructively. Take any notebook and divide it into four sections.
- Things that might happen
- Things to worry about today that have happened
- Small things to worry about today
- Important things to worry about today
For the next two weeks write down your thoughts for headings 1, 2 and 3 before you go to bed. Choose a time of day when you are at your strongest and brightest to complete section 4. One thing you need to remember about section 4 is that worrying about a problem does not solve it – doing something about it does.
Many people fear making a decision as it might be the wrong decision. What people forget is that making no decision is decision-making by default. If you take no action something will still happen! I was working with a young woman who could not decide whether to apply for a job or not and we agreed that if she kept putting off making a decision she would end up losing the job whether she wanted it or not. You need to decide whether you want to be in control, or if you are going to just let situations happen. There is always a choice, even if the choice is between the lesser of two evils.
When you feel anxious, angry, tense or experience any strong emotion it is useful to do some relaxation exercises. There are many forms of relaxation.
You may find it helpful to read: No More Anxiety: Be Your Own Anxiety Coach
Next time: The “Rescue Remedy”