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REASONS TO TAKE WORRY BREAKS
- Eliminate needless worry
- Reduce stress
- Improve focus
A "worry break" is a self-coaching technique. You save your worrisome thoughts for a preplanned thinking break.
The worry break occurs daily and takes 15-20 minutes. Instead of worrying throughout the day, you get good at worrying once a day.
The objective of a worry break is two-fold - 1.) to prioritize your worries; and 2.) take appropriate precautions.
Your inner-voice produces thousands of thoughts each day, and these thoughts are largely subconscious.
Buddhists call it your "monkey mind". Your thoughts are like bunch of drunken monkeys jumping around, all screeching for your attention.
The loudest monkeys are your worrisome thoughts. They're the most persistent of all thoughts and get most of your attention.
You worry about the future, because the future is uncertain. Worry is actually a chain of negative thoughts and emotions. (Borkovec, Robinson, Pruzinsky and Dupree, 1983)
Your brain craves certainty. When facing uncertainty, your brain senses that something's wrong. You lose your ability to focus on other issues and you begin to worry.
A worry break is a type of thinking break, but worry breaks should be pre-scheduled. 15-20 minutes is enough time. If you don't have any worries, use the time for a thinking break.
As worrisome thoughts come to mind, acknowledge them. The screeching monkey needs to know its been heard!
Use the notes app on your mobile device. When you have a worry, acknowledge it by writing it down. It's like saying, "I've heard you, and I'll get back to you later."
When it comes time for your worry break, your list of worries is right there in your notes app.
There's a couple things you might notice. The first is that some of the worries you wrote down aren't even worries anymore. That's good! You've avoided needless worry.
Compare the worries you've captured. Notice that, compared to others, some worries seem pretty insignificant. That's good, too. You don't want to sweat the small stuff!
Now you've prioritized your worries. It's time to worry, but let's worry the right way. We need your inner-coach to control the worry break, not your inner-voice.
Your inner-voice is largely subconscious, emotional and prone to thinking traps. Your inner-coach is more objective, less emotional and can help you avoid thinking traps.
Thinking traps cause a lot of needless worry. We worry about the future, but we aren't fortune tellers. We worry about what people think, but we're not mind readers.
Worry is an attempt at problem solving, like going to the gym is an attempt to exercise. If worry doesn't cause you to actually engage in problem solving, it's like going to the gym and choosing not to work out. You've wasted time and energy.
A good worry break helps you prioritize and problem solve. But it's hard to problem solve for something that hasn't happened yet. It's in the future. In fact, it may not even happen!
The way you solve your worries is by taking precautions. If you're worried it might get cold, bring a jacket. If you're worried it might rain, bring an umbrella.
Confront worry head on.
Like any negative emotion, the more you resist a worrisome thought, the stronger it becomes. You can't finesse your way out of a worrisome thought, you need to take it head on.