January 14, 2015

Emotional Triage and the Worry List

Having trouble with Anxiety ?  Try Emotional Triage  and making a Worry List

For those who suffer from anxiety, and who doesn’t, the key to finding relief is to convert a general and vague sense of dread into specific and defined problems. Going through each worry and defining and giving it a name often helps to relieve that amorphous sense of terror. Likewise, we often feel anxious when we become overwhelmed by the number of challenges threatening us and feel that we’re simply unable to meet the demands.  In an upset state, all problems may feel equally urgent and as if they all need to be solved immediately.  In fact this is rarely the case.  A calm assessment of the relative significance of each issue can greatly help to calm things down and lower one’s sense of anxiety.

Conducting Emotional Triage and creating a Worry List are effective techniques that gives both definition and order to one’s problems and are helpful in restoring a needed sense of control  to one’s life.

These methods are derived from Emergency Room experiences. Have you ever been in the ER of  a hospital where there are lots of people with all different kinds of medical problems and emergencies?  An ER isn’t like a bakery or deli, where first come is first served. The triage personnel  assess the urgency of each person’s problem and assigning it a priority.  Folks who are bleeding, have no pulse or who can’t breathe get priority while everyone else has to wait their turn. This same concept of reviewing problems and prioritizing and setting the sequence when each issue will be addressed is very helpful in dealing with stress and anxiety. With a little practice you can effectively employ this simple method to organize and get control over your fears and worries.

Step 1   To begin, take a sheet of paper and write down all of the things that are                                                    bothering you. They can be big or small; it doesn’t matter. The point is to write everything down that concerns you.

Step 2   Go through each item that you’ve written down and carefully think about which issue is the most time critical.  Give that problem  #1.  Go through the list again and figure out which issue is the next most important and give it #2. Go through each item on the list until all your listed troubles have a number.

Step 3   After having created your numbered worry list, sit back and remember you can’t solve all your problems at once but that with this schedule you have a guide to tell you what problem to tackle first, second and third, etc.

Emotional triage and a numbered worry list can help you transform what feels like the chaos of too many demands into an organized and manageable plan for addressing each concern.  Sometimes just knowing that you have a reasonable plan helps lower the level of worry to a degree where the paralysis created by anxiety can be broken. Without the paralysis of fear we are free to begin to meet and to overcome the challenges we face.

Rev. Michael Heath    1 14 2015     

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