This was the day!! Regina cleared her schedule and put the word out so that unnecessary interruptions would not interfere with the completion of a mountain of paperwork. Office door closed, blinds drawn, the only distraction was a squeaky office chair. So why was it nearly impossible to focus on the job at hand? Simply put, Regina was worried. She found herself ruminating rather than completing paperwork... "I wonder if I am ready for my performance evaluation?" "What should be done with Mr. Allen's recent change in functional status?" "Did I make a mistake in postponing Mrs. Thatcher's home health aide supervisory visit in favor of getting this paperwork done?"


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Home care clinicians commonly experience job-related worrying. Excessive or aimless worrying can distract thoughts and decrease productivity. According to Richmond (2000), worry is the mind's way of trying to deal with fear, to explain it, verbalize it, define it, and organize it, so that the fear is not so shapeless and menacing. Worry can be exhaustive and destructive. The five steps listed in the sidebar can be helpful in transforming worry from a counterproductive energy drain into a constructive method for creative problem resolution.


All worrying need not be futile. It is possible to choose worry as a contemplative tool, with the deliberate purpose of creating interventions and solutions. Aimless worry can be transformed into a mindful effort toward clarification and resolution of a variety of work-related concerns.


Five Steps to Creative Worrying

Step 1: Raise the question.

Ask yourself, "What is the question?" If the worry is vague, it may be a challenge to identify the question. Keep asking until a question arises. Construct a simple sentence that states the question; for example, "I wonder if I am ready for my performance evaluation?" If several questions arise, address the most pressing concern first. Write and prioritize a list of other questions to be addressed later.


Step 2: Repeat the question.

Verbalizing the question clarifies specific concerns, giving them shape and verbal form. The process of creating productive interventions and solutions can begin when the worry is clearly defined and solidified through verbal repetition.


Step 3: Follow the question.

Remember the question and bring it repeatedly back into consciousness. Attentively (not obsessively) breathe, walk, eat, and sit with the question. If the question shifts or changes, acknowledge and follow the new question. For example, "I wonder if I am ready for my performance evaluation?" may shift to "Should I list a few more professional goals for next year?"


Step 4: Settle the question.

There are two ways to settle the question:1. The question may fade and disappear, its energy stored in the subconscious, until it becomes necessary to address it again. If the question is truly important, it will eventually be resurrected and processed through to resolution when the time is right. 2. The question may evolve into a statement. For example, the question in Step 3 could become, "I know what I could add to my list of professional goals for next year!!" Length of time required to settle a question varies, so it may be helpful to cultivate patience while following the question.


Step 5: Take action.

Implement interventions that concretely express the "settle the question" statement. If still unsure about whether to take action, return to Step 1 and ask again, "What is the question?"


Source: Richmond, 2000.




1.Richmond, L. (2000). Work as a spiritual practice. New York: Broadway Books. [Context Link]