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How to Take Control with the 2-Step 'Worry Time' Technique
Before that we discussed some mental imagery techniques used by clients who benefited from various forms of guided imagery. But what about sleep disorder clients who have difficulty getting to sleep as a result of the frustration, anxiety and tension that comes from feeling as though they have no control over a situation?
In this section, we will discuss taking control. We will examine worry time and reducing tension and coping with stress. Sound interesting?
First, let’s discuss worry time. Drew, age 39, was the type of insomniac who often found himself lying in bed worrying about finances, his job, and his relationship with his wife. Drew stated, "It’s like I have all these thoughts buzzing through my head and I can’t stop them. I end up spending hours trying to get some shut eye, but I just keep thinking about all my problems." I felt that the ‘worry time’ technique might benefit Drew. I stated to Drew, "Sometime during the evening, long before you go to bed, schedule a half hour to do the work of worry so don’t have to do it in bed." Drew asked, "Yeah, right. How do I do that?"
Drew asked, "What if I’m sitting there and worries don’t come?" How would you have responded to Drew? I stated, "If you sit there for half an hour and no worries start buzzing around, that’s OK. You’ve simply used the time to relax. Don’t worry that you might not have any worries."
Some clients I have treated classify their worries by content, others by their perceived importance of specific worries. Would you agree that how clients classify their worries matters less than how applicable the categories are to a client’s situation?
Step 4: Identify Problems you Cannot Help
Drew stated, "One thing that continues to bother me is my relationship with my wife. For the last two weeks I’ve tried coming up with solutions, but nothing seems to work. How should I handle that?" How would you have responded to Drew? I stated, "If you have concluded that you have done everything you can, write that down on your card next time. You might write, ‘I have done everything I can. The ball is in her court and now I have to wait until it comes back.’"
Drew began to utilize the ‘worry time’ technique to help him avoid remaining awake at night worrying. Drew kept additional worry cards by his bed that he used periodically when his ‘worry time’ failed to get of rid all his worries. Think of your Drew. Could ‘worry time’ as a behavioral intervention benefit your client?
3-Step "Reducing Tension and Coping with Stress" Technique
--Step One: I suggest to clients that as they read through the suggestions, they mark those that might apply.
For example, the suggestion that Drew found most applicable to himself was suggestion 9. It reads as follows: "How much energy are you putting into being scared? Does your fear sometimes turn to anger? Try cooperation instead of fear and anger. You don’t always have to back away from or push away the other person. Learn to recognize and stop destructive feelings."
In this section, we discussed taking control. We examined worry time and reducing tension and coping with stress.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Almén, N., Lisspers, J., Öst, L.-G., & Sundin, Ö. (2020). Behavioral stress recovery management intervention for people with high levels of perceived stress: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 27(2), 183–194.
Haghighi, M., & Gerber, M. (2019). Does mental toughness buffer the relationship between perceived stress, depression, burnout, anxiety, and sleep? International Journal of Stress Management, 26(3), 297–305.
Willert, M. V., Thulstrup, A. M., Hertz, J., & Bonde, J. P. (2010). Sleep and cognitive failures improved by a three-month stress management intervention. International Journal of Stress Management, 17(3), 193–213.
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