Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Lauren Bell’s five tips which aim to help us look after our mental wellbeing:
Tip two – Postpone your worries
The second technique is called worry time. This technique will be particularly helpful for those who are struggling with excessive ‘what if’ worst case scenario worries. Worry time is used for worries which are classed as ‘hypothetical’ in nature and can also be used for ‘current/real’ worries which you can’t do anything immediately about. A hypothetical worry is defined as something which may or may not come true (i.e. ‘what if I get Coronavirus?’) and a current/real worry is something which has actually happened, (i.e. ‘I have Coronavirus’). Worry time involves giving yourself a set 20 minute time slot each day where you are allowed to worry. Within this time you can worry about anything that you want. Outside of this time however we want you to practice trying to postpone your worries. To do this you will need to have a pen and paper, or the notes section in your phone. Each time you notice a worry pop up, write down a brief bullet point summarising what that worry was about, I.e. ‘The virus’, ‘Money’, ‘Work’. Then tell yourself that you will come back to think about the worry later and try to bring yourself back to the moment. To begin with your worries will keep popping back up. Each time this happens put a tally mark next to the corresponding bullet point and again tell yourself you’ll come back to it later. This will get easier with time and practice. When it comes to your worry time, get your list of worries out and allow yourself to worry about them for 20 minutes only. If you have things on your list which you are no longer worried about feel free to cross them off. At the end of your 20 minutes it is important to be strict, to put your list away and to go back to postponing again. Over time and with practice your brain will get used to postponing worries and you will find that you have more head space in the day to think about other things.
These are just some basic strategies which will hopefully help people to keep on top of their mental health in this ever evolving situation. Although there is not a lot we can do about the changes made by the government, it is important for us all to remember that we do still have a lot of control over our mental wellbeing. We can still choose to engage in activities and thinking styles that are more helpful for us and we can all choose to reach out and support each other as times get tough. Mindset plays a huge role in how we experience things and we can overcome even the most difficult of obstacles if we allow ourselves to believe that it is possible.
Lauren can be contacted via her social media pages: Facebook @therapyinyorkshire, Instagram @theyorkshiretherapist or by visiting her website: www.theyorkshiretherapist.co.uk. You can also access therapy for free through the NHS by contacting your local IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service on 01302 565556.