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Noah Clyman's 7 Day Worry Challenge! (part 1)

It’s springtime! The sun is shining and nature is in bloom. This is the time of year when you can, literally, “stop and smell the roses”… unless you’re hijacked by worry.

Worrying is appropriate and healthy when it motivates you and leads you to attempt to resolve a problem in a productive, adaptive manner. Most of the time, however, the sole function of worry is that it robs you of life’s joy and interferes in your day-to-day functioning. I have counseled many clients who have described how their lives were ruined by worrying – the constant state of tension; feeling in a fog, preoccupied; and unable to relax and let go.

Not sure if you’re a worrier? Simply indicate to what extent each of the statements below describes you (“not at all like me,” “a little like me,” or “a lot like me”).
1. After I start worrying, I find it very difficult to stop.
2. People who know me well tell me that I worry too much.
3. I often think of worst-case scenarios when I worry about a problem.
4. I frequently become anxious and worry about things that could happen but usually don’t.
5. When I worry, I usually just upset myself more, rather than try to resolve my worries.
Answering more than one or two of these statements with “a lot like me” suggests that worrying is a problem in your life.

Never fear! I have created the Noah Clyman 7 Day Worry Challenge. Each day – for the next 7 days - I am going to provide you with a worry-busting “strategy of the day” to help overcome your worry habit. Each strategy is an established CBT technique that has been shown in clinical trials to reduce worry. These 7 techniques are hand selected by yours truly based on what I have observed to be the most effective interventions with my clients.

My instructions to you, the reader, before we begin: Read each exercise carefully and completely. Then carry it out. Stick with it for the week. These strategies will help you (a) worry less, (b) become more mindful, and (c) enjoy the here-and-now. With practice, these cognitive therapy techniques can produce remarkable changes.

So, no time like the present – let’s get started right now!

Worry Challenge; Day 1: List your worries & Write about them

One way that you can cope with your worries is by listing them in order of the amount of stress they trigger.

For example:
1. Job security
2. Mother’s health
3. Kids’ safety in the city
4. Possible IRS audit
5. Losing hair
6. Upcoming meeting at work
7. Forgot spouse’s birthday
8. Getting back to a friend about an invitation

Next, write about your worries. Research has shown that writing about stressful and worrisome experiences can reduce stress-related symptoms. By writing down your worries, you begin to feel you are more in control of them. Much of your worrying goes on in a somewhat vague, ill-defined manner. Sometimes you aren’t even quite sure what you’re worrying about. Bu committing them to paper, you are dealing with them in a more direct way. Instead of floating around out there somewhere, they are now in a concrete form.

Today’s assignment: sit down and write about your worries intensely and non-stop (no distractions or breaks!) for 20 minutes.