What’s a worry shop? – Metacognitive training

As some of you might know, I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety some time ago. I started treatment in the beginning of 2019, but that was mostly about medicine. I sometimes felt like that wasn’t enough. So, I talked to my counselor and she suggested metacognitive training. I didn’t have anything against giving it a shot, so I tried it out. And that’s how I got to learn about the worry shop.

Metacognitive training
Some of you are probably wondering, what metacognitive training is about. Obviously, I’m not an expert, but I would like to try to tell you about how I understood it. Within cognitive behavioral therapy there’s a lot of focus on your thoughts. As far as I know, you’re trying to identify negative thought behaviors and change them. So, you’re really digging into your thoughts. Within metacognitive training, however, the content of your thoughts isn’t really that interesting. Metacognitive professionals believe that your thoughts and feelings heal by themselves and that you don’t need to give them too much attention.

Running sushi
You probably think, I’m a bit crazy. First, I write about a worry shop and now there’s something about running sushi. But it will hopefully all make sense. That’s because you can compare metacognitive training with running sushi. Do you all know running sushi? It’s where you’re sitting in a restaurant and there’s small sushi plates running by. So, you can choose whatever sushi you like and take it. The rest can just drive by. And that’s exactly what you should be doing with your thoughts. You should only pay attention to the thoughts that you like, and the rest can drive by. I know, that it really sounds easy. But it really isn’t, especially when you have a lot of “catastrophe thoughts”.

My catastrophe thoughts
I don’t really know if the expression “catastrophe thoughts” even exists in English. I used to call those thoughts “what if”-thoughts, because I was always worrying “what if this happens, and what if that happens”. But my psychiatrist thinks, we should call them catastrophe thoughts, because my if sentences never end positive. So, as you can probably guess I’m really good at worrying. So, the counselor, who did this metacognitive training with me, asked me to think about how many hours per week I’m worrying. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was a lot of hours. It definitely changes depending on how I’m doing and what’s going on in my life. But I’m really a bit too good at having catastrophe thoughts and worrying. Now, you read enough and it’s time to finally tell you, what you’ve been waiting for. I’ll tell you about the worry shop and how it helps with my catastrophe thoughts.

The worry shop
Again, this is going to sound really easy. And it’s not. But I’m going to start out with explaining what the worry shop is and then later on, I can tell you, how easy (or not) it is. So, the worry is shop works like this: If you are worrying about something and the worries are not helping you or maybe even bothering you, they should wait in the “waiting area”. Yes, I know, it’s very metaphorical speaking. There is no physical waiting area. I hope, you get what I’m talking about anyway. Anyway, the worries should wait in the waiting area until the worry shop opens. And the worry shop opens once a day for 15 minutes. When the worry shop opens, you get to worry about all the thoughts that are still waiting in the waiting area. In my case, my worry shop is opened after dinner, because that’s when my boyfriend is home as well, so I can share my worries with him.

How well it works
When I started using the worry shop, it went really well. The only thing, that was a bit difficult for me, was figuring out what I should think about in my new spare time. I suddenly had so much time for new thoughts, because my catastrophe thoughts weren’t there anymore. But that’s probably not the worst problem to have. Currently, it’s a bit more difficult for me to use the worry shop, because I’m worrying about my studies. And those thoughts are always difficult to get rid of. But in general, I think it’s a really great strategy to have. You don’t need anything for it but it’s really effective.

Much more
Metacognitive training is definitely much more than just the worry shop and running sushi. And I hope you remember, that I’m not an expert. I don’t have any education within psychology at all. It was just important for me to share my experiences with me. I feel like there’s way too many people who still don’t know anything about metacognitive training and that’s really sad, because it can be so effective.

Little side note
Just so you know, I heard about the worry shop in Danish, because I’m living in Denmark. So, the expression “worry shop” is also translated. I don’t know if you can find any articles about it in English. I definitely couldn’t but I also didn’t know what to look for other than “worry shop”. I just feel like I didn’t want you to miss out on hearing about this strategy, just because I learned about it in a different language. Because I definitely think it can help you, regardless of what language you’re speaking.

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