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11 Ways to Let Go of Worries and Set Yourself Free

11 Ways to Let Go of Worries and Set Yourself Free

Worrying is one of those universal feelings that everyone has. Parents worry about their kids, everyone worries about money, people in relationships worry if their relationship is going to last, and sometimes people worry about worrying too much. The whole thing is very worrisome but you don’t have to live that way. Here are a collection of tips to help you let go of worries.

1. First and foremost, some worrying is okay

There are some things in life worth worrying about. Parents with kids can attest to this. When you see your child wipe out on a bike, the worry flag goes up. That’s totally okay. Parents are hard wired to worry about things like that. If your loved one is in surgery or giving birth, you’re going to pace the waiting room waiting for news. There’s nothing anyone can do about that. The first step to let go of your worries is to accept that you are going to worry about things sometimes. It’s just a matter of identifying what is worth worrying about.

2. Make some time to worry about things

Now that we’ve proven that you are going to worry about some things, let’s talk about what you can do to make it a little less stressful. Take some time out of your day every now and then, sit down, and calmly work out your worries. You’re more likely to find solutions to your problems when you’re calm and you think about things thoroughly. Therefore you should make time to sit down and think about your worries. Trying to figure things out when you’re otherwise occupied with things like work, school, or even activities like driving is going to do nothing but pile on stress.

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3. Cultivate resilience

There comes a point where you need to get used to being worried sometimes. Since you are going to worry about stuff sometimes, it’s probably best you get used to it and not let it ruin your life. When you worry, it can affect your mood and your life and thus can affect your focus, your work, and your family life. Don’t let it do these things. Don’t resist the urge to worry, but rather learn to resist the side effects of worrying. Take a couple of deep breaths, acknowledge the problem, and get back to living your life.

4. Move through the worry

When you worry you get all pent up and tense. A good way to deal with that build up of energy is to use it on something. Take a walk, clean your house, tend a garden, or do anything that can occupy your hands and your mind. It not only provides a great distraction from being worried, but you deal with the tension and pent up energy, which will help you feel better. Personally, I play video games. It seems a tad juvenile I’ll admit, but the combination of hand-eye coordination and the action going on in the game provides a great mental outlet that diverts my attention from my problems until I am calm enough to deal with them.

5. Do something about what you’re worrying about

People inevitably do this eventually when they worry too much, and people really ought to do it more often. If there is something you’re worried about then do something to fix the problem. If you are short on money, get a second job. If you’re having relationship problems, sit down and discuss your concerns with your partner. In the words of Morgan Freeman’s character in the movie Red, “For every problem sir, there is a solution.” Find the solution and it’ll no longer be a worry.

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6. Get rid of the negative aspects

People sometimes worry about the most silly things. Have you ever spent 45 minutes deciding what to wear before going out with friends? If you answered yes, have you ever asked yourself why? That’s nearly an hour you spent needlessly worrying about what fabric will be covering your body when you go into a public place with people who care about you. Why be worried about it? Wear something that’s comfortable and appropriate for the venue. Worrying if your shoes match your shirt, your eyes, and your hair is just needless stress. You don’t need that kind of worry in your life. Identify the things that really don’t matter, like whether or not your shirt matches your shoes, and eliminate them. Trust me, you’ll feel better.

7. Go see a doctor

According to WebMD, people who worry entirely too much have a higher chance of having anxiety problems. If you get so worked up about worries that you have anxiety attacks, then you may actually have an anxiety problem. It is never a bad idea to get a professional opinion, and if you do have an anxiety problem then there are treatments and medications that can help you relieve the symptoms. This may actually help you worry less.

8. Bore yourself calm

Today’s youth are very desensitized. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because 50 years ago, the most gore you could see on the big screen was the classic horror movie Psycho. Other than that, kids and adults weren’t really exposed to that much gore, and so when they saw it, it was frightening. These days, video games, movies, music, and TV have pretty much turned violence into something that just happens. Kids see all this gore and they become bored by it and it has lost its impact on them.

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You can use this same psychology to your advantage. If you worry about something, say it to yourself every day. Eventually, the words and the premise will lose their power and you’ll become desensitized to it, much like today’s kids are to violence. You will literally bore yourself calm over time and not worry about that thing as much anymore.

9. Cry

According to WebMD, worrying suppresses the part of your brain that feels some emotions. That sounds complicated but it really isn’t. You’ve no doubt heard someone say, “It’s okay, I just needed a good cry.” It may have even been you. I’ve done it before. By crying, you unlock the suppressed emotions, get them out of your system, and it’ll literally make you feel better. Why do you think people repeatedly tell you that it’s okay to cry? That’s why.

10. Remember that you have all the time in the world to figure it out

A lot of people who worry do so on a schedule. They need to worry about it right there. They need to know information about their worries immediately. I’ve been guilty of this one a thousand times. When I moved last month, I called my leasing agent twice a day to ask how the process was going because I was worried I wouldn’t get the place. When I order things online and the tracking says that the package is out for delivery, I join my dogs in looking out the window every 25 minutes until the postman shows up.

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Eventually, I got my apartment and I always get my online orders, but in between I worried about it a whole bunch. I’ve been slowly learning to be patient and not worry about things if they don’t happen right away and you should too. If it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen. There’s no use in trying to rush things and there’s definitely no use in being worried.

11. Stop asking yourself, “What if…?”

Very few things will be as bad as they are in your head when you worry about them. I’m facing this problem right now actually. When I moved, I spent a great deal more money than I originally envisioned and I’ve been left a little broke. I’m worried about not having money for food or bills. I’ve been asking myself, “What if…?” What if I get evicted? What if I forget to pay a debt? However, when I look at my finances, I see that by mid-August I’ll have totally recovered from this very minor and very temporary crisis.

It was never that bad to begin with, but I caught myself asking myself the wrong question and in turn I made myself worry. Learn from my mistakes. Very nearly nothing will ever be as bad as you expect it to be. The best practice is to calm down, think more into the future, and realize that you’ll probably never experience the horrors that you can concoct for yourself in your own mind.

Wrap up

Worrying is an important issue to talk about because it’s practically a chronic condition. Worrying all the time and being stressed out can have a negative impact on all aspects of your life. The best way to deal with worrying is to simply let go of worries. It sounds easy and it is easy to do but it’s hard for people to visualize. Rest assured that when you stop worrying, your life will get a lot more interesting.

Featured photo credit: PFit Blog via pfiesterpfit.files.wordpress.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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