#WellnessWednesday Video Tip: Coping with worries by considering the worst-case scenario

Are you one of those moms who is consumed with worry on a daily basis? Do you tend to worry about a number of different issues at once, many of them seemingly trivial?

Lots of the moms with whom I work spend an inordinate amount of time worrying. What I find interesting is that they often aren’t able to articulate exactly what they’re truly afraid will occur. That is, they can express that they’re generally worried about a topic but they haven’t thought through what would actually occur if things didn’t go as they hoped they would.

I encourage moms to think through their worries by asking themselves three questions:

1) What is the worst-case scenario?

2) What is a more realistic scenario? 

3) If the worst-case scenario does come to pass, could I manage it? What would I do to manage it?

I think the “worst-case scenario” technique is particularly effective for the more mundane, daily worries that many moms experience. This is because considering the worst-case scenario tends to “de-catastrophize” these worries; that is, it helps moms realize that the worst case would actually not be very terrible and/or that they’d be able to manage it effectively.

Here’s an example: Let’s say Hannah is worried that her daughter Chloe won’t be accepted into any of the preschools she’s applied to. Here’s how Hannah might think this situation through:

  • Worst-case scenario: Chloe is rejected from all preschools
  • Realistic scenario: Chloe does not get accepted to every school, but she gets into one or more
  • How I would manage: If Chloe is rejected from all preschools, I will go on my community Facebook page and ask if any parents have suggestions for preschools I hadn’t considered. There are a huge number of preschools in the area; I will find some place for her to go, even if it isn’t my top choice. I will also call each of the schools we applied to and ask if Chloe can be put on a waiting list. It’s only preschool, and Chloe is adaptable—she’ll be fine wherever she is.

Thinking through the worst-case scenario helped Hannah realize that she would be able to cope effectively, even in the unlikely event that Chloe was rejected from all preschools.

Next time you’re worrying, try out the Worst-Case Scenario technique, and share your experiences in the comments section below!

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I’m Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., aka DrCBTMom. DrCBTMom.com combines the expert advice of a self-help book with the warmth and readability of a mommy blog.
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