Do you find yourself worrying about the same things day after day?  Do these concerns occupy your thoughts when you’re doing something that doesn’t require your full focus?  For today, I want you to stop doing this!  Instead, block off 15 minutes to engage in focused problem solving.  During this 15 minutes, focus all your attention on your problems, the implications, and possible solutions.  Preferably, sit down with paper and pen and write down your thoughts.  After 15 minutes, put the paper away.  You can revisit the issue again tomorrow.

Focusing your problem solving, as opposed to worrying, accomplishes two goals:

  1. You spend less time on unproductive worrying and more time on focused problem solving.
  2. You train your brain that “free time” is not for worrying!  Many people develop a habit of filling downtime by mulling over problems; unfortunately, this usually leads to associating free time with worrying!  If you find yourself thinking about problems when you’re doing chores, errands, driving, or worst of all, when you go to bed, try to refocus your thoughts on something positive.  This works best if you can focus on a project you’re looking forward to, as this engages the same problem solving approach as worrying but improves your mood rather than causing anxiety.  So instead of worrying about your problems, think about a DIY project, a trip, or a gathering with friends!

What’s something positive you can focus on?