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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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