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The Worry Box

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The Worry Box

Worry leads to problems with anxiety, difficulty obtaining a good night's sleep, and physical health complications. It is a common problem that can be controlled better by learning how to think differently about worries.

Listening to this audio helps you learn how to manage worries. It has you imagine a box and describes putting away the different types of worries: important/unimportant and controllable/uncontrollable. Listening to this audio consistently can help you to put away your worries throughout the day. This audio is especially useful for people who have insomnia at bedtime due to worrying.

Transcript: The Worry Box

This worry box exercise is to help learn how to put your worries away so they don't interfere with your daily life. A good time to listen to this is at bedtime because that is a common time for people to worry which then interferes with sleep. Although you can listen to this anytime when worries are bothering you.

We tend to carry most of our worry tension in our upper body so we will first focus on relaxing that part of our body. Just start by allowing your body to begin to relax. Take a breath and focus on your breath. Focus on the feel of the air as you bring it into your body. Focus on the feel of the air as it leaves your body. Just inhale slowly....and exhale slowly. Begin to let your body relax. Notice the muscles in your forehead. Let those muscles smooth out and relax. Notice the muscles in your cheeks and jaw. Let those muscles smooth out and relax. Continue to inhale slowly.....and exhale slowly. Let all the muscles in your face just smooth out and relax completely. Now notice the muscles in your neck. Let all those muscles smooth out and relax....smooth out the muscles in the sides of your neck, the front of your neck and the back of your neck. Continue to inhale slowly.....and exhale slowly. Now let all the muscles in your shoulders and chest become very relaxed. Just let your shoulders droop and your arms relax. Continue to breathe slowly.

Now you will create your worry box in your mind. You want to visualize a strong secure box that you know can hold your worries safely. You just want to be able to put your worries away where you can retrieve them when necessary. Sometimes you might need one of your worries when there's something you can do about it. But most of the time you want to be able to put your worries away so they don't cause unnecessary stress. So you want a safe place to put your worries.

Imagine your worry box any way that you want to. You can imagine it as a very simple box or very elaborate. You can imagine it any color you want. It can be decorated or labeled. However you imagine it, though, try to imagine it completely. Also, since you want to lock your worries away, imagine your box with a lock. Again you can imagine any kind of lock, a key lock, a combination lock, a digital keypad. Just be sure that it is a secure lock.

Now imagine opening your box. You are going to put your worries away in the box. You are going to take each worry and determine if it is important or unimportant and whether it is controllable or uncontrollable. Lets start with the unimportant and uncontrollable worries because they are usually the easiest to let go of and the ones you aren't likely to need so you can put them in the bottom of the box because you really don't need to see them again.

Sometimes people think that just because something is a worry, it IS important. This is not always true so it is necessary to examine your worries to determine if they really would have much effect on your life. If not, they are unimportant. So take all the worries that are unimportant and that you really can't do anything about and put them away. These are worries that are unlikely and wouldn't effect your life much anyway. So just let them go and put them away.

As you put your worries away, tell yourself "This worry is unimportant an uncontrollable. I don't need to worry about this." Continue to relax your body and breathe slowing. Let those muscles in your shoulders and neck smooth out and relax. Just inhaling and exhaling slowly as you put the worries away.

Now take the worries that are unimportant but controllable and put these in the box. Since there's something you can do about these worries you may want to see them again but they're unimportant so it's not very likely you really need to deal with them. Just put them away now in the box. As you put your worries away, tell yourself "Although this worry is controllable, it is unimportant. I don't need to worry about this. If if choose to do something about it, I can. But I don't need to worry about it because it is unimportant." Continue to relax your body and breathe slowing. Let those muscles in your shoulders and neck smooth out and relax. Just inhaling and exhaling slowly as you put the worries away.

Now let's move on to the more important worries. These are the more difficult worries to put away. But you can do it. Start with the worries that important but uncontrollable. This means there really is nothing you can do no matter how important they may be to you. These are usually the what-ifs and the should-ofs. What if something happens or I should of done this. Put these worries away. You can't do anything about the uncontrollable future or the past. Just put those worries away. If you really need to think about them, you can take them out later. But for right now, put them away. Usually our catastrophic thoughts about the future are not likely to occur. Often they are out of proportion to reality. So remind yourself that they are unlikely and you can't do anything about them anyway. And put them away.

As you put your worries away, tell yourself "This worry may be important but it is uncontrollable. I don't need to worry about this right now. I can let it go. There is nothing I can do about it." Continue to relax your body and breathe slowing. Let those muscles in your shoulders and neck smooth out and relax. Just inhaling and exhaling slowly as you put the worries away. Just let those worries go. Worry about uncontrollable things only makes you miserable--it does not change the situation. These worries may take a little more effort because they are important to you. But you can't do anything about them right now. At some point in the future, the situation might change and you may be able to do something, but you can't right now. So, continue to breathe slowly and relax your neck and shoulders as you tell yourself "This worry may be important but it is uncontrollable. I don't need to worry about this right now. I can let it go. There is nothing I can do about it."

Let's take a moment now and focus on the relaxation again. Take a breath and focus on your breath. Focus on the feel of the air as you bring it into your body. Focus on the feel of the air as it leaves your body. Just inhale slowly....and exhale slowly. Let all the muscles in your face just smooth out and relax completely. Let all those muscles in your neck smooth out and relax....smooth out the muscles in the sides of your neck, the front of your neck and the back of your neck. Continue to inhale slowly.....and exhale slowly. Now let all the muscles in your shoulders and chest become very relaxed. Just let your shoulders relax and your arms relax. Continue to breathe slowly.

Now the final group of worries, the one's that will be at the top of the box because you might need them sometimes are the worries that are important and they are controllable. This means that there is something you can do about them, but not right now. So it is okay to put them away in a safe place and you can take them out later when the time is right to do something about them. So take all your important and controllable worries and put them away in the box.

As you put your worries away, tell yourself "Although this worry is important to me and is controllable, there is nothing I can do about it right now. I don't need to worry about this now. When I choose to do something about it, I can. But I don't need to worry about it right now. I can deal with it when I need to, but right now I can let the worry go." Continue to relax your body and breathe slowing. Let those muscles in your shoulders and neck smooth out and relax. Just inhaling and exhaling slowly as you put the worries away.

Your important but controllable worries are at the top of your worry box so that they are available when you need to do something about them. You can take them out as you need to. But for right now they are in your worry box with all of your other worries where they are safe but they do not need your focus right now.

Now that you have put your worries away in the box, close the box and lock it. All your worries are in the box, in a safe place, and you can return to them when you need to. But for right now you don't need them.

Now continue to breathe slowly. And again focus on letting all the muscles in your upper body smooth out and relax. Focus on each breath and how your body feels as you smooth out the muscles. Focus on the feel of the air as you bring it into your body. Focus on the feel of the air as it leaves your body. Just inhale slowly....and exhale slowly. Let all the muscles in your face just smooth out and relax completely. Let all those muscles in your neck smooth out and relax....smooth out the muscles in the sides of your neck, the front of your neck and the back of your neck. Continue to inhale slowly.....and exhale slowly. Now let all the muscles in your shoulders and chest become very relaxed. Just let your shoulders relax and your arms relax. Continue to breathe slowly.

The more you practice this exercise, you will learn how to put away worries so that you will be more calm and focused. Throughout the day, whenever you start to worry, allow yourself to picture your worry box and putting your worries away.


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