Always anxious? Try restricting your worry time to five minutes a day

Are you a natural born worrier? It’s a bad habit that can eat away at you. Don’t worry – we’re here to show you how you can reduce stress in just five minutes a day.

While stress can have a purpose – motivating you to save when you have money troubles, for example – most of the time it’s unnecessary, say Jo Usmar, author of This Book Will Make You Fearless (£8.99, Quercus). ‘Research has found 85% of worries have a neutral or positive outcome,’ she says. ‘As for the other 15%, 79% of people reported they handled the situation better than they thought they would.’ One simple answer, explains Jo, is to find some time every day to worry. ‘It stops the snowball effect,’ she says.

BOOK A SLOT

Five minutes a day is enough to allot to worrying, says Jo. Don’t just decide you’ll find a bit of time – actively choose a time and put it in your diary. Make it in the evening so you can deal with worries that crop up during the day. But choose a time you know you can stick to – for example, while the dinner’s on or once the kids have gone to bed.

 

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KEEP A MINI WORRY DIARY

‘When worries appear during the day, jot them down in a notebook and remind yourself you’ll deal with them later,’ says Jo. ‘Knowing you’re not ignoring them will make you feel better, plus, by the time you get to deal with them, they may have been resolved anyway.’ Don’t try to memorise your worries. ‘By writing them down, you’re forcing yourself to get to the nub of the issue,’ says Jo. ‘Just jotting them down can make you think, ‘Wow – that’s ridiculous!’ and dismiss the worry.’

 

DISCARD THE POINTLESS FEARS

‘Once you get to your scheduled worry time, look through your list of worries and cross off the ones that are no longer relevant – any that you’ve resolved during the day,’ says Jo. For example, you may have been fretting about a work situation that’s been addressed.

DEAL WITH THE OTHER WORRIES

‘Ask yourself, ‘Is this worry realistic?’ If the answer is no, cross it off the list,’ says Jo. ‘If the answer is yes, ask yourself, ‘Can I do anything about this?” This applies to worries such as whether it’s going to rain at the outdoor party you’ve organised. ‘If the answer is no, take it off your list,’ says Jo. ‘Worrying about stuff we can’t control is a waste of time. If the answer is, ‘Yes, I have some control’, make an action plan. What are your options? Write it in your diary, then do it. As soon as you take action, your worry will lessen.’