As posted on How to Worry Productively
Worrying is part of life. According to a new analysis, 38 percent of us worry about something every day—which honestly seems low. With a small tweak, though, you can turn your worries into a productive way to solve problems.
This is an easy shift, because many of us worry because we have problems we wish we could solve. Worrying itself doesn’t solve those problems, although it can make us feel a little more prepared. The Australian National University’s self-help program for people with anxiety contains a checklist for solving your worries. You’ll have to create an account if you want to use the full self-help program, but these are the problem solving steps at the heart of it:
- Check your attitude. Decide that you are going to try to solve something, rather than just sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.
- Identify a worry that may have a solution, and then clarify the worry by getting very specific about what exactly you are afraid will happen, and why that would be bad.
- Ask yourself for evidence. Is this worry based on something that has happened before? Do you have reason to believe it is realistic? Write that down, but then also consider whether there is evidence against the worry coming true.
- Identify actions you can take to solve the problem. There may be more than one, so brainstorm a bunch.
- Write out the pros and cons of those actions. This will help you figure out which, if any, to take.
- Choose one of those actions, and try it. Afterwards, write down whether or not it helped.
You can use these steps like journaling prompts. Think about each question, and brainstorm the answers in writing. Later, you can look back on what you wrote, which is especially important in the last step. Over time, you’ll have a record of not just what you worried about, but how you solved it. That can help next time you have a similar worry.