Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR

Worrying is anything but fun. Persistent, constant, and uncontrollable worries can cause severe anxiety. Moreover, intense worries such as those that we experience when we’re exposed to something we fear can be debilitating. If your worrying is causing you anxiety, you can implement simple cognitive methods, such as brain games, to manage it.

Brain games do more than simply distract you from worrying; they also help you to refocus your thinking. It takes focus and energy to engage in the amount of worrying that generates anxiety. You can play brain games to refocus that same energy, and playing these games can positively impact your overall mood.

Here are a few brain games to help you manage worrying:

The ABC Game

Choose a topic that you find entertaining. A few examples of topics are names of cities, restaurants, children’s movies, binge worthy TV shows, 80s hair bands, sports teams, US Presidents, and Beyoncé songs. When you are worrying, choose a topic and identify one item in that topic for each letter of the alphabet starting with A and ending with Z. For example, if you choose cities you could say Anchorage, Berlin, Chicago, Denver, El Paso. See if you can make it all the way to Z. If you get stuck, that’s a good thing. This will allow your brain to become absorbed in this game instead of worrying about something else. Tip: Don’t choose a topic that is too easy or too difficult and pick a topic that you find entertaining.

How Many Can You Name?

Choose a topic and list as many items as you can from that topic. You can choose the same topic as you would for the ABC Game or you can switch it up. Some examples of topics are the names of books by women authors, extinct species, movie villains, elements on the periodic table, and dog breeds. When you’re worrying, name as many of these items as you can. For example, if you choose books by women authors you might say A Handmaiden’s Tale, Beloved, The Bell Jar, and Pride and Prejudice. How many can you name before you get stuck? Tip: Don’t grab your phone and look up more items rights away; allow your brain to try to come up with more on its own first. This process helps to refocus worrying.

Memorize and Recite

Find something you’d like to memorize that has meaning to you. Choose something that’s new and interesting. Some examples are prayers, poems, speeches, song lyrics, and phrases in another language. Memorize what you’ve chosen and then, when you’re worrying, recite it. Tip: Do not choose something that you can recite without having to focus. For example, you shouldn’t choose the Pledge of Allegiance if you’d memorized this as a child and it’s so ingrained that you can recite it without much focus.

Math Problems

Completing math problems can quickly refocus your brain. Identify what types of math problems you are capable of completing but would require your concentration. If you have memorized the multiplication tables you shouldn’t complete simple multiplication problems, as this would require little focus. Some examples of math problems are long division, multiplying fractions, finding percentages, and geometry. You can complete these problems in your head or on paper. Tip: You can find lots of math problems to solve on the internet.

Worrying can be anxiety provoking and debilitating, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Try engaging in brain games to manage your worrying.

Do you experience worrying and/or anxiety? If so, you could benefit from participating in therapy. Symmetry Counseling provides individual, couples, and EMDR therapy, to name a few. Contact Symmetry Counseling today to schedule an appointment.