The 'Worry Room' Technique Could Be The Mental Health Tool You Need To Help Your Anxiety

Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. According to the American Psychiatric Association, roughly one in three adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point, including celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion and Selena Gomez . So, if you're feeling anxious, know that you're in good company — and not alone.

Even still, worrying can get the best of anyone if left unmanaged. "Often, people who constantly worry lie in bed at night ruminating or wake up and immediately feel stressed about what they have going on that day," Dr. Kelli Johnson, dean of the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Chicago's National Louis University and a practicing counselor, told Forbes. This can quickly ruin your day and, eventually, your health: Per Mayo Clinic, people with anxiety disorders may be more likely to experience digestive issues, aches and pains, and an overall worse quality of life.

However, there's no need to worry about worrying. Instead, it's important to learn how to deal with worry the right way, without letting rumination take over your entire schedule. One way to do this is by using the therapist-approved "worry room" technique.

Making time to worry may relieve anxiety

If you've ever been told to just stop worrying, you know this oversimplified advice pretty much never works, especially if you have anxiety. Rather than trying to shut off your anxious thoughts, it might help to make space for them — literally. The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies suggests designating a specific place and time to worry every day. If you catch yourself worrying outside of this window, postpone the thought until you visit your "worry room" again.

The idea behind the method is that worrying can be useful, though not in excess. Setting time aside to worry ensures you don't bottle up your problems or avoid them altogether. And giving yourself space to embrace your inner worrywart may help you cope with stress better in the end. "The ultimate benefit of worry time is having more time and energy to focus on other important areas of your life that were previously consumed with worries. This frees up mental space to be more present and engaged with other areas of your life," Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University, shared with Verywell Mind.

There's also scientific evidence to back up the worry room technique. In a 2012 study published in the journal Behavior Modification, people who scheduled time to worry, rather than allowing themselves to brood freely, felt more relief from anxiety and even slept better at night.

How to create your own worry room

If your anxious thoughts seem to follow you wherever you go, commit to a regular worry time each day. "Anywhere from 15 minutes, up to half an hour is a good amount of time, but anything over an hour might be excessive to be ruminating over all your worries," psychologist Nancy Sokarno suggested to Refinery29. "Ideally, you should also do it in the afternoon, but not too close to bedtime in case you can't help but lay awake at night thinking about your concerns."

As for the location, your worry room doesn't have to be a separate room at home, though it's best to choose a spot not utilized for rest or work. Brenda Arellano, a licensed psychological associate, noted to Apartment Therapy that it can be a special chair, for example.

Once you're in your worry window, set a timer and notice what thoughts arise. Journal or list out problems bringing you anxiety, and if you can, consider what baby steps you can take to tackle these concerns. If your mind is still racing once you step out of your worry room, take a deep breath and try a grounding practice, like the "54321 method," to carry on calmly with your day. And if a negative thought continues taking up real estate in your mind, Arellano notes that it's okay to jot it down and return to it during your next worry room session.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.