Wednesday, February 04, 2015

My little box of worries.

Dr. Write posted this article today on Facebook, about a strategy for managing worry. Ad Kerkhof, a clinical psychologist who works in suicide prevention, makes the case that while you can't not worry--worries, after all, "relate to real and practical problems in your life, so you cannot rid yourself of them altogether"--you can limit and manage the timeframe in which you worry:

Excellent advice, from Dr. Kerkhof.

Last night, when I was ostensibly working on 80% of a full night's sleep and instead found myself awake at 5 a.m. when, really, nothing good actually ever happens, since it's too early to bang around and make breakfast and it's too cold to go outside and so there's nothing to do but worry, I found myself--are you ready for it?--worrying. About this and that. Of course, since I had to wake up in time to make my 8 a.m. meeting, I might as well be extra and extraneously and superfluously alert, two hours too early.

In the article also suggests another strategy: "If you find yourself awake in the middle of the night worrying, with thoughts whirling round repeatedly in your head... this is where imagery comes in useful...Imagine there's a box under your bed. This is your worry box. As soon as you spot thoughts that are worries, imagine taking those individual worries, putting them into the box and closing the lid. They are then to remain in the box under the bed until you decide to get them out again."

Magnificent 1/12 scale Witch/Wizard's Apothecary, on Etsy, aka
My Worry Box.

This is the box that I imagine will be adequate to contain all the things I worry about, such as whether I will have enough time, in the procrastinated hour that I have allotted myself, to finish responding to student work; what I will wear; whether I am a nice enough, a good enough person; if I have prepared adequately; whether I will remember to bring my lunch; whether there are enough cut up carrots for the carrot portion of the lunch I hope to remember to bring; whether I am taking good enough care of the people I love; why, when it seems so dark in the evening, it is so difficult to want to do and accomplish anything but staying warm. Also, I'm a little worried that My Worry Box won't fit under My Bed.

This is not all of the worries, especially not the list-y ones, the long-term projects that I fret about finishing. I think I need a damn big box with lots of little cubbyholes to contain them, especially at five a.m., especially when I'm on the couch with the dog, thinking about the day to come which will be endurable but only just, because (another worry to put in the box) I'm getting a worryingly small amount of sleep.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry... I didn't get my comment correct.
    1)That box is amazing
    2) You are pretty wonderful and I hope that box trick works
    3) I used to have worry dolls that I used in a similar fashion. You could get some of those?

  3. I heard something else this week to put yourself back to sleep -- Breathe in count of 4, hold it count of 7, breathe out count of 8. I don't know if it actually works or if it's just an elephant's feather but I have slept every night without waking up since I heard this and decided I would try it if I woke up in the night.



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