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12 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying So Much

12 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying So Much

Have you ever lost sleep to worrying, dreaming up a series of scenarios for what could do wrong? Don’t worry – you’re not morbid or a pessimist. Anxiety is a natural evolutionary response to a perceived threat, and worrying is your way of taking control over an otherwise uncertain situation. Worrying is a form of planning for the worst, and preparing accordingly.

In that sense, worrying can be productive. It’s a self-soothing mechanism when you are scared, sad, or angry about events beyond your immediate control. However, anxiety is also linked to depression and a host of physical symptoms, including insomnia, digestive disorders, and headaches.

Worrying is an illusory form of control. If anxiety is negatively impacting your life, it’s time to consider how you can stop worrying so much and get back to living boldly.

1. Set Aside Time to Worry

Carve out 15 minutes a day to worry, and only worry. When time’s up, you’re done. If worries start creeping into your day at other times, tell yourself you can think about it during your ‘Worry Time.’  Soon you’ll realize how much time is wasted by worrying, especially when you are worrying about the same things over and over again.

2. Prepare for the Worst

Worrying is a form of preparing yourself to face challenging situations. So go ahead, think of the worst case scenario and how you might respond. For example, let’s say you are losing sleep over a big presentation coming up at work. What’s the worst case scenario? You could completely bomb, forgetting your notes and having trouble getting the projector to work. People might laugh.

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In most cases, you can survive the worst case scenario. So don’t worry too much about it.

3. Hope for the Best

On the flip side, worry can be combatted against with an optimistic outlook. So if that same upcoming work presentation is causing you anxiety, it can be equally helpful to consider all the potential wonderful outcomes: your boss notices what an asset you are to the company, you increase credibility with your colleagues, and you might even discover a talent for public speaking.

4. Be Proactive

You can sit around agonizing over how to handle a certain situation or project, but the best way to alleviate worry is to tackle the issue head on. Remember, worrying is a form of planning, but it’s a waste of time if you don’t follow up with specific actions.

In other words, in order to stop worrying about how to do something, you need to get busy doing it.

5. Distract Yourself

When you are hyper-focused on worrying about one thing, it takes over your life. This kind of tunnel vision causes you to lose perspective. A college student might be tormented over a single paper, forgetting it’s ONE assignment for ONE class for ONE semester. So, yes, this might be a crucially important paper – perhaps the paper that will be the difference between passing or failing a class – but in no way is it the Single Most Important Event of this person’s life.

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Get out of your own head by distracting yourself with other activities you enjoy – working out, listening to music, going out for a nice meal, or meeting up with a friend.

6. Seek Support

Sometimes the quickest way to manage anxiety is to call on your support network. Find a family member, friend, or trusted colleague with whom you can openly discuss what you are worried about.

A good source of support is a person who does not minimize your concerns, big or small, offers advice when asked, and listens without judgment.

7. Support Others

A good way to stop worrying about your own problems is to help someone with theirs. Halt your internal dialogue about all of your worries by asking a friend, “How are you?” and really listening.

Consider volunteering your time with an animal rescue or homeless shelter, and shift your focus on helping other people contend with their personal struggles.

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8. Have a Conversation with a Professional

Relentless anxiety might be a sign of a medical condition, warranting a visit to the doctor or a licensed mental health professional. If anxiety is interfering with your quality of life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with approaching it the same as you would any illness and seeking medical help.

Alternatively, you can schedule an appointment with a trusted clergy member or similar spiritual authority if you are someone who derives strength from your faith.

9. Put It On Paper

In addition to setting aside time to worry, consider writing out your anxious thoughts in a journal. Sometimes seeing something on paper helps us better digest the information. Additionally, if you write down what you are worried about, over time you will likely notice a pattern in specific anxieties and your triggers.

By recording your worries, you will get bored of them, acknowledge the worst case scenario rarely (if ever) come to pass, and understand how to anticipate and cope with specific people or situations who cause you to worry in the fist place. 

10. Trade Anxiety For Appreciation

You know the saying, “Count your blessings”? Anxiety is related to fear, stress, anger, and a sense of desperation. Worrying about what you may or may not lose seems less productive when forcing yourself to remain cognizant of what you already have.

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So while you may not get that promotion you’ve been angling for, you might instead be grateful for secure employment with a paycheck that allows you to support yourself and your family.

11. Look for Role Models

It’s fine if you’re not a naturally anxiety-free person. History is full of plenty of distinguished persons who had to train themselves to stop worrying in order to accomplish great things. Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton, and Sigmund Freud are all said to have struggled with anxiety disorder.

Eleanor Roosevelt overcame debilitating shyness to become the First Lady of the United States and a world-famous humanitarian. She advised, “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”

12. Challenge Yourself

Ultimately, the best option might be exposure therapy; challenge yourself to face your fears, big and small, until you no longer worry about their potential impact on your life. If you’re afraid of flying, book a flight, or even consider taking a flying lesson. If you worry about giving presentations at work, join a public speaking group.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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