For most of us, uncertainty undermines well-being. We like knowing what to expect, which is why habits and routines prove comforting. With the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty is a large part of daily life, creating a persistent sense of “What if?” This makes it far easier to worry and catastrophize.
Thankfully, research shows chronic worrying can be reined in, at least to a considerable degree. How? One of the best strategies is to keep a “worry journal.” Instead of persistently ruminating in one’s mind, doing so on paper, even for just a few minutes a day, greatly reduces the amount of time spent in this often-futile activity. Here’s how it’s done:
- Obtain a bound journal or pad of paper and a comfortable pen
- You can type your worries into a Word document, but, for reasons we don’t entirely fathom, it’s not as effective as putting pen to paper
- Set aside a few minutes each day to record your worries and fears
- If possible, make your journal entries when you are most prone to bouts of worrying
- When you find yourself worrying in between journaling sessions, just remind yourself that you can write down your worries later
As little as five minutes a day writing in one’s worry journal significantly reduces the amount of time one spends ruminating about all the “What ifs?” that populate our minds during this challenging time. Given all we have to deal with during the pandemic, that’s five minutes well spent.