Majella Cogan, CBT therapist at Nightingale Hospital spoke to The Telegraph this week in a new article: The science of worrying – why we do it, and how to stop.

Cogan, a CBT therapist specialising in anxiety disorders, shared some expert advice with journalist Abigail Buchanan on how to manage anxiety.

Accepting worry for what it is

“One of the most helpful things we can do is view it as a process of the mind rather than get bogged down in the details. It’s just what minds do – they fantasise, problem solve and plan,” she says. “Instead of getting hooked into a worry and chasing it down, just acknowledge that it’s a process of your mind. We might even encourage clients to say, ‘Thank you, mind – but that doesn’t need to dictate what I do next,’” she said.

Pencil in some ‘worry time’

“There’s an exercise called worry postponement or ‘worry time’,” says Cogan. “When a worry pops into your head during the day, and you feel an anxiety spike, make a one-word note of it and then allocate it an assigned time (preferably not near bedtime) to go through the list. What people typically find is the worries don’t matter so much with some distance from them,” she said. 

Train mindfulness like a muscle 

 “There’s a quick exercise which asks you to spot five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This brings you back to the present moment – and when you’re immersed in it, you get a break from the time travel of worrying about the future or the past,” she shared.  

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  • Majella Cogan

    Majella Cogan

    Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

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“When you have a problem and you drink, take drugs or gamble, the problem won’t go away. Stay and tackle the problem”