So, you just found out some rather devastating news. You’re not sure how to handle it, and you can’t seem to stop worrying. Maybe it isn’t actually one thing in particular; you’re just always on edge about something, and you want to stop. It’s okay. Your life is more in control than you think, and these steps can help you feel more like it.
1. Get busy.
There may not be much you can do about the impending situation, so it’s good to get busy with things that you can affect. There’s no time to shut down now. You can solve other problems even if you can’t solve this one. Being productive in general can also help inspire you to tackle that original problem.
2. (Prepare for the worst, but) hope for the best.
You’re not going to go into the future unprepared for possible negativity. You’re just hoping it works out better than expected. This means taking the steps to guard against future problems, but accepting that not all of them will come up. Things could easily take a turn for the better, and you’re open to that.
3. Distract yourself with something good and inspiring.
This doesn’t mean to ignore the problem. This means to give yourself a break and go do something positive for yourself. Read something motivational. Go for a brisk walk by the lake. Log another half hour at the gym. Whatever it is, make sure you’re doing it for you.
4. Get support.
Chances are you aren’t in this alone. Call your friends and family, or better yet, meet up with them for a relaxing dinner. When the time is right, confide in them what you are going through, and see if they might be able to help you get through it. If nothing else, they will be able to offer you emotional support. If worrying becomes a bigger issue than your typical confidants can handle, you might need to consider speaking with someone who deals with this as a profession. There are many therapists who specialize in this, and they may be able to help you.
5. Practice relaxing.
This may seem counterintuitive after step number one, but it’s also true. You need to have a good balance of productivity and leisure. Life will be there when you’re done relaxing, so for now, you’re just going to take it easy for a bit. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, it may be time to practice. Search for some local recreational events in your area, or browse the channels on television for some stress-free programming. The activity itself doesn’t matter. It may not even need to be an activity; you can just sit down and meditate for a bit, and it will help you relax.
6. Count your blessings.
Sometimes worrying is actually a perspective issue. Take some time to count your blessings. Perhaps put a pen and paper in front of you, and list off everything in your life for which you are thankful. Consider the privileges and advantages that come simply with being you. Better yet, express your appreciation for those blessings by communicating with others. Whatever you do, remember that you have a lot going for you.
7. Monitor your thoughts.
Worrying can be due to intrusive and disruptive thought patterns. You are what you think. It can be difficult to change those patterns, but it’s worth attempting. Focus more on the positive aspects of your life. Take pride in your accomplishments, and spend a little extra time feeling good about yourself for them. Look for the silver lining in everything, because it’s often there.
8. Identify your worries.
This may be uncomfortable for some, but for others, it’s a good way to deal with stress. Grab that pen and paper again; this time you’re going to write down, in as much detail as possible, exactly what you are worried about and why. You are almost guaranteed to get some insight by doing this. Your problems might just be smaller than you thought they were. If nothing else, you know specifically what you’re dealing with, and can start to figure out how to overcome those issues.
9. Differentiate between productive and unproductive worries.
Take the list you made in step eight, and consider crossing off the ones over which you have no control. If you can’t alter the outcome of those situations, why bother worrying about them? There is no solution for them, and in all likelihood, those worries are probably rather vague. Forget about them. On the other hand, realize that some worries are productive, because you can do something to overcome them.
10. Accept your own limitations.
We are all good at some things and bad at others. Those specific things are different for every person. If your worry is related to something you aren’t particularly good at, then that’s okay. You live in a society with plenty of other people who happen to be good at it! You may not be a great mechanic, but even if your car breaks down, you can always take it in to the shop.
11. Get out of your comfort zone.
Many people stay here because they worry about what will happen if they do something uncomfortable. You’d be surprised how much less stressful your life might be if you got out of your comfort zone once in a while. Once you accomplish some things you don’t want to do, you won’t have to worry about being able to handle them.
12. Schedule your worrying.
It might sound a bit silly, but mentally allowing yourself a set time to worry can actually help you concentrate on other things throughout the day. Even better, try to redefine this scheduled time as a point in the day to evaluate your obligations and figure out how to tackle them. Focus on solutions to your problems, not the problems themselves.
13. Allow yourself to be imperfect.
This is important whether you tend to worry or not, but is especially important for those who worry about their own shortcomings. You are not a perfect person, and that’s completely okay. You may have had an extra brownie after dinner, or you may not have been able to pinch every penny, or maybe you just can’t quite get your hair to sit right. That’s alright. Everyone else has their own issues like this, so cut yourself some slack.
14. Be happy before you finish your to-do list.
It’s an easy trap to fall into: you’ll be able to breathe once you just finish everything. Try your best to avoid this pattern of thinking. Notice your productivity levels. You’re getting stuff done, and that’s reason enough to be happy. You’re doing work. You are having a successful day. The fact that it isn’t done yet means nothing.
15. Realize that you are your own worst critic.
Stop worrying about what other people might think about you. Chances are, they don’t think anything. It’s nothing personal; it’s just a fact. People have their own problems and are much too preoccupied to care about whether you’re having a bad hair day, or if you’re using food stamps at the grocery store. It may seem a bit dark, but it’s actually quite liberating once you realize this. Only a certain handful of people truly have a meaningful opinion of you. The rest are just trying to live their own lives… and now you’re free to live yours.