You know that you’re able to tackle worries effectively when your routine is serving you (and not hindering you): when you’re able to cope with normal day-to-day stressors, maintain productivity at work, and fruitfully contribute to yourself in one way or the other, as per WHO.
Routines are behaviors that are needed to serve our personal needs (biological or social), goals, targets and preferences in our daily lives. Setting helpful behaviors gives our minds a routine and control to help tackle worries effectively. But how do we exactly do that?
What do your routine behavioral patterns look like?
Even if you spend the whole day writing a blog, make a list of activities you do within 24 hours. Do you prefer working late or setting some early hours in the morning aside? What times of your day do you socialize with your friends?
Creating a rough list of behaviors you do daily is more helpful than summarizing activities in the past six months.
Brainstorm strategies using a rating scale of 1 to 5
Once you create a list of routine, rate the intensity of your anxiety/worry. Against each behavior/activity, mark a rating of 1 to 5 based on how they make you feel. Identify behaviors that score a 5 on your anxiety scale. What behavior scores a 3 among the list?
If the intensity rating of your anxiety/worries rating high (e.g. 5), then you know it is time to incorporate visiting a therapist. Routines where the rating score is lower and less intense, can help you brainstorm and incorporate the right strategies accordingly (e.g. writing a journal, taking a walk).
When you relate your anxiety/worry rating score with the situation at hand, you attain clarity to come up with new strategies to cope better.
For example, if you experience anxiety to create a to-do list every morning, rate down your anxiety score. Then brainstorm strategies that would help reduce the rating score and help tackle worries effectively. It could be helpful to have a journal to track your routine behaviors, rate them up and brainstorm new behaviors that can help bring better results.
Existing helpful behavior can be strengthened & new ones can be adapted
Take out the same list again. Are you able to identify behaviors that you want to completely eliminate. Items that you don’t think is necessary in the list anymore?
Research says that existing behaviors can be strengthened. This principle is helpful when you want to improve your routine. If you notice carefully, we all perform daily behaviors that are helpful (e.g. a quick shower after a long day at work, quality time with a partner, avoiding sugar into your black coffee). It’s necessary to identify and make them more frequent. It takes less effort to repeat our existing habits compared to replacing them with new ones. Ask yourself “What’s helping me in this situation? What are some of the rare things I do that bring me calm?, how often do I like taking a walk with my dog?”
Secondly, unwanted old behaviors can be replaced by adding adaptive new behaviors. As replacement is much more effective than suppressing old behaviors. E.g. Avoiding coffee by replacing it with healthier beverages. Reducing screen time before bed with a gratitude journal. Cut off those behaviors from the list, but add new behaviors.
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