We all suffer from worry at times, and for those who are inclined to suffer from anxiety, worry can become genuinely very disabling. Worries can escalate until they are occupying all our mental space. They can lose all proportion and prevent us from engaging in our everyday activities. We can waste hours every day fretting and worrying about things that might never even happen.
Does any of that sound like you? If so, you might benefit from using a worry tree. This is a useful tool that can help you to deal with the things that make you worry.
You might worry about hypothetical situations: you might be getting ready for a family event, for example, and start worrying about what will happen if the weather turns, in which case one of the kids might catch a cold if it rains, and then that you might miss work or everyone else might get a cold too. Even though none of this has actually happened, your escalating worries might cause you to experience the whole event as miserable, or even to cancel it just because of something that only might take place!
Alternately, you might find it very difficult to stop worrying about a current problem that you are dealing with, to the extent that the worry becomes a much bigger handicap than the actual problem. The issue is that worrying might stop you from actually tackling the problem. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are worried about not having enough money. That’s a common enough problem, and it is certainly a very real one. But if you just worry about it and don’t actually look at the situation calmly, there’s nothing you can do. Instead of worrying, you could be talking to your bank, looking for a better job, or figuring out a more manageable budget.
So, how can a worry tree help you with all this? A few simple steps to help create a worry tree are below.
Get a piece of paper and write the thing you are worrying about at the top.
You might write, “I think the weather might turn bad for our family outing,” or, “What if we don’t have enough money to cover our expenses?”
Look at the problem objectively and figure out if it is a hypothetical problem or an actual issue that you are currently facing. If you’re worried about the weather and the potential cascade of negative consequences listed above—well, unless you have a very secure weather forecast at your disposal, that’s a hypothetical worry. There’s nothing you can do about it right now. If the weather does turn bad, you can decide what to do then. Maybe you just need to pack some raincoats, or perhaps you need to come up with a plan B. For now it doesn’t matter though. It’s not currently a problem. You can let it go.
Now consider the issue of money. If the money coming into your household is less than the money you need to go out on mortgage or rent and living expenses, then yes, you do have a problem.
Instead of just fretting, you can replace your worry with an actual plan: Talk to the bank about your repayments; look for a better job or a promotion; consider taking in a lodger for the guest room—or whatever you need to do to make the situation work for you. It might not be easy but taking practical steps to address whatever your concern may be is a lot better than just worrying about it.
Once you have a plan for what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, draw up a schedule and put your plan into action. Then you can let go of your worry and replace it with working hard to make positive change.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.