At some point in time all of us are faced with difficult problems in life. These problems are not the sort of thing that can be easily solved by reading a positive quote on our bathroom mirror.

They are complex real world problems such as seriously ill family members, relationship breakdowns or challenging financial situations.

When we are faced with these types of problems we often analyse them continuously in our mind until we are mentally and physically exhausted. However, despite our exhaustion we find it difficult to sleep and often wake up feeling just as tired as we were the day before.

If this sounds familiar and you are facing a particularly difficult situation today, I’d like to share with you a technique that has helped me get through some tough times in the past with the hope that it may help you too.

The technique is called the ‘Worry Cloakroom’.


Whenever you attend a concert or play at a theatre, you have the option to remove your coat and check it into the cloakroom so that you can enjoy the performance without being encumbered by your outer garments.

When the performance is over, you return to the Cloakroom, pick up your coat and step out of the theatre and back into the world you are familiar with.

One of the most useful techniques for dealing with complex real-world problems is to create for yourself a ‘Worry Cloakroom’.

A Worry Cloakroom is a place in your mind where you can ‘check in’ the worries you are dealing with for a period of time, so that you can enjoy an experience without being encumbered by your worries or guilt.

For example, Jackie was attempting to look after her elderly mother. While she loved her mom dearly, the strain of being a full-time carer was really starting to take a toll on her physical and mental well-being.

Whenever Jackie tried to take a break from her duties as a carer she felt extremely guilty and found it very difficult to enjoy the things she used to.

Then a friend told Jackie about the concept of the Worry Cloakroom and she realised that it was actually very important for her to ‘check in’ her worries for a short time in order to take a break and reconnect with the things she enjoyed.

The idea of the Worry Cloakroom appealed to Jackie because it wasn’t the same as abandoning her duties. She was simply ‘checking in’ her worries temporarily in order to enjoy an experience and then she would pick them up again on her way out.

What this meant in the real world was that Jackie arranged for her sister to spend some time with their mother while she went out for a meeting at her local book club.

When she left the house, Jackie imagined herself at the counter of her Worry Cloakroom and ‘checked in’ her worries about her mother and gave herself permission to stop thinking about the situation for a short period of time. She did not feel guilty about doing this because she realised that her worries would be waiting for her at the counter when she returned.

She allowed herself to have a wonderful time at her book club meeting and enjoyed having a coffee with her friends and discussing the latest book they had all been reading.

When she returned home, Jackie imagined herself checking out her worries from the Worry Cloakroom and returning to the familiar world she knew. However, upon her return she was revitalised by her break and felt much better prepared to face the situation at hand.

Today, if you are dealing with a difficult real world problem, I’d like to encourage you to create your own Worry Cloakroom. Make the decision to give your mind and body a break from the constant burden of worry. Identify an activity that brings you joy and schedule it into your timetable.

Give yourself permission to check your worries into your Worry Cloakroom for a period of time. Take a break from your anxiety and enjoy the activity you’ve selected without feeling guilty.

When you complete your activity, you will feel reenergised and much better equipped to return to the situation at hand.