ReachOut WorryTime

ReachOut WorryTime is an app for managing the time you spend worrying. Learn more about the app, and get information on when it is appropriate to use it, find out what young people thought of it, and read professional advice and young people’s tips for using it in practice.

This tool will assist with:

  • containing worry to designated periods

  • reducing worry or generalised anxiety

  • improving self-reflection and problem-solving skills.

ReachOut worrytime

About WorryTime

The app is based on a widely used cognitive behaviour therapy technique called stimulus control training. This involves teaching yourself to contain worry to designated periods. Based on the theory that constant worry is an embedded thought pattern that can be changed with practice, the exercise of scheduling a time to worry helps you to practice better thought habits - such as being aware of thought patterns, letting go of thoughts that are not constructive by postponing them, and applying problem solving techniques during the scheduled worry times.

Numerous studies have shown stimulus control techniques to be effective at reducing worry, anxiety, negative affect and insomnia. The technique is also consistent with Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approaches.

Other notable features:

  • You can lock the app with a pin to keep worries safe and private.

  • You can opt to receive notifications at the designated WorryTime.

  • The app allows you to select repeat worries and track how often they bother you.

Where to access this tool

WorryTime is free to download, and is available on Apple (iOS) and Android mobile devices.

When to use WorryTime

This app is useful for young people who suffer from anxiety disorders or who are experiencing problems with constant worry, and could also be used during stressful times such as exam periods. With appropriate therapeutic support it can also be useful for young people going through life adjustments, preoccupied attachment styles, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Cluster C personality traits.

This app and technique is most useful if used in conjunction with other techniques (such as using mindfulness meditation to focus the mind and release worry), and may not suit all people as an anxiety management technique.

What young people thought of WorryTime

  • Its straightforwardness. It makes sense, it's clear, there's no clutter and it's easy.

  • The graphics and the triumph you feel when you throw a worry away.

  • Prompts. Able to indicate if same worry is recurring.

  • I always try to write what's bothering me down before I go to bed so I can think about it in the morning, but this is way better! I can do it on my phone and keep track of how often issues come to mind!

  • It's pretty easy to use.

How to introduce WorryTime at your school

  • Try the app before introducing it to students and understand the different features.

  • Discuss how constant worry is an embedded thought habit, that can be changed with practice.

  • Introduce the concept of a designated worry time as a way of challenging themselves to change their thought habits, and practicing letting go of worry in between worry times.

  • Frame the app in the context of tools/techniques to ‘help’, but not to magically cure their issue.

  • Walk them through the app and give them a verbal explanation of the functions, and what kind of worries and actions they might add.

  • Encourage them to remind themselves what the purpose of the exercise is (self-reflection and changing thought habits) at the start and end of each worry time.

  • Suggest they try the app and monitor their results, by looking at the number of times they worry about each issue.

  • Encourage them to try other techniques for distracting themselves or letting go of worry in-between worry times, such as mindfulness meditation.

Tips on using WorryTime’s key functions

  • When opening the app they will be prompted to set a Worry Time. Encourage them to select a time when they will have time and privacy, and that is not just before bed.

  • At any time of day they can add a worry by opening the app and pressing the prominent ‘Add Worry’ button.

  • At the scheduled time they will be notified to open the app and review their worries. They will not be able to open their worries until the scheduled time.

  • During Worry Time they can swipe through their worries to review them, tap to open a worry in order to focus on it and add actions, and if the worry no longer bothers them they can pinch on the screen to scrunch it up, and then flick it away with their finger.

  • To track a worry, they can open their list of worries by clicking on the cloud at the top right hand corner of the screen. In their list they can tap on the worry each time they worry about it to increase the number beside it.

  • If they need a refresher on using the app, there are instructions for using the WorryTime app in the ‘About WorryTime’ section of the menu, along with links to further information.

How to follow up with a student

  • Encourage them to use the app.

  • Ask if they would be open to discussing their worries and experiences with you once they’ve started using the app.

  • When you talk about it next, ask them what kind of worries came up and how often.

  • Ask if they noticed any patterns in their worries, or anything interesting, to encourage them to reflect on their thought patterns.

  • Ask them if they thought of any actions, and discuss what kind of actions they could add for some of the worries they identified.

  • Ask them what they did or didn’t like about using the app and whether they found it useful.

What can I do now?

  • Download and use the app, so that you are familiar with it and have it available for show and tell purposes.

  • Suggest other anxiety management techniques such as mindfulness, including apps like Smiling Mind.

  • Use ReachOut Schools mental health and resilience classroom activities with your students.