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What is worry?

Planning and thinking ahead is something all of us do at some point, and is useful for organising tasks.

When the worry is excessive, over things you cannot control – it may have a negative impact on mental health.

When we are worried it’s easy to think of ‘worst case scenarios'.

Choose your worry time, 30 minute slot before bedtime

Refocus – take time after you have completed worry time to relax. Try mindfulness or meditation, read a book, cook a meal, do a workout. Anything that will help to shift your focus away from worry time to the present moment.

Capture your worries by writing them down.

Challenge your worries by asking such questions as is there any evidence to support this? What would I say to a friend if they were feeling this way? Will this matter in 1 or 2 or 5 years from now? If I had kept on worrying about this all day, would it have changed anything?


Worrying means spending a lot of time thinking about negative possibilities. A certain amount of worrying is a healthy response to life, it can help to guide or motivate. Sometimes worry can become overwhelming and unhealthy making us too anxious to be able to act in a useful and rational way. People who over-worry often:

  • Find it difficult to concentrate
  • Feel helpless and unable to cope
  • Lose confidence
  • Experience disturbed sleep and eating patterns
  • Develop obsessional behaviours
  • Get headaches, stomach upsets (‘butterflies’)
  • Feel emotionally drained

Moving out of Worry

Breaking the cycle of worry is important. By keeping a record of your worries and recognising how you behave physically when you worry (you may tense your jaw or bite your nails) and emotionally (you may stop relating to people or feel worthless) you can begin to take control over your worry. Relaxation exercises can help manage the anxiety of worrying. It may be useful to share worries with an ally who can help you to define your worry, do a ‘reality check’ (‘how likely is that to happen, in reality?’) and encourage your thinking to move from negative to positive. Often worrying is a habit, a ‘way of being’, so it can be helpful to work out when you first started worrying and why you may have taken on that ‘role’ and got into the cycle of worry.

Getting Support

The Wellbeing Support Services are available for students at the University of Warwick:

Medical support and information can be obtained from GP practices or health centres.

For more information:

Self-help references

The following references are available from the University Library either in hard copy, CD or ebooks. Most are readily available to buy either in bookshops or over the internet. There are also a limited number of books in the Learning Grid and the Bio-med Grid.

Stress-Free: Peaceful Affirmations to Relieve Anxiety and Help You Relax

Louise L. Hay


The 10-Minute Stress Manager

Emmett E. Miller


Relaxation: exercises and inspirations of well-being

Sarah Brewer


Stress, Anxiety, Depression : A Practical Workbook,]

Martin Simmons, Peter Daw,.


Mind guide to managing stress



Mind guide to relaxation



Overcoming Traumatic Stress: A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques

Herbert, C. & Wetmore, A.

Robinson Publishing

Healing Without Freud or Prozac.

Servan-Schreiber, D.

Rodale International Ltd.

How to stop worrying

Frank Tallis


Managing Stress (Teach yourself)

Looker and Gregson

Hodder Education

The Good Stress Guide

Mary Hartley


The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

Davis Robbins Eshelman and McKay

New Harbinger

The Worry Cure Leahy Pitkus
How to stop worrying Flory MIND booklet

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