Worrying can be a productive way to try to anticipate adverse events and take steps to shore them up. But for many of us, worrying has the opposite effect. We get so caught up in hypothesizing every worst-case scenario that we lose sight of the big picture and find that our mental and emotional energies are completely zapped. For worry warts, the apprehension brought on by worrying can immobilize you.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve realized that nothing is going to change by aggressively mulling over situations in your head. You’ve realized that it’s time to stop worrying and move forward in another way.
But it may seem as though worrying is out of your control. You may find yourself unable to stop the stream of dark and anxiety-producing thoughts that come into your head. You may find yourself unable to stop your mind from wandering off into a web of worries as you try to drift off to bed.
Don’t worry: There are effective and easy ways to stop worrying. In this article, we’ll be going through 6 effective methods to quiet your mind and set your worries to rest. We’ll also show you a better way of managing anxiety so that worries are fewer and farther in between.
1. Figure Out Why You Are Worrying So Much
Why are you so worried? This is the first question you should be asking yourself before we start talking about how to stop worrying. Worries and anxiety come from somewhere. Those places may not make a lot of sense, but there are still sources which you need to identify before you can deal with your worrying problem effectively.
Sit down and grab a piece of paper. Give yourself a half hour to let your mind make its way to its anxieties. What are you worrying about?
Is it getting older? Is it late bill payments? Is it smelling bad when your deodorant wears off in the afternoon? No matter how big or small, silly or legitimate a problem seems, write it down.
You may find that as you list the things you are worried about, you’ll achieve a moment of catharsis. Dumping all of your worries out of your head and onto a piece of paper can be a relaxing and therapeutic activity.
When you’re done, take a look at your list. Try to eliminate items that can immediately be dealt with. For example, if you’re worried about an unfinished task — such as cleaning black mold out of the bathroom tub — take care of it right away or as soon as possible. Try to address anything that will take 10 minutes or less.
For other items that have clear solutions, such as late bill payments, try to strategize a course of action. Set up automatic payments with your bank. Create a budget. Speak to a financial advisor. For a lot of your worries, there are realistic and attainable actions that you can take to remove them off your list and out of the confines of your brain.
But for many items, no specific action will do. For example, if you worry about other people’s perception of you or worry about your romantic relationship, there is often nothing you can “do” externally to change your internal anxiety.
At this point, you need to seriously consider your overall anxiety levels. If worry is coming in the way of living a normal life and interacting with those around you, it may be that your worry habit is something more serious: generalized anxiety disorder.
This is an issue that you may not be able to deal with on your own and may require the attention of a trained mental health care professional. You can read more about generalized anxiety disorder in our article on the topic.
If not, move on to the next step in reducing or eliminating your chronic worrying.
2. Set Aside Some Worry Time
This tactic is a great beginner step in starting to deal with your worrying. Instead of trying to repress worried thoughts at all times, give yourself 30 minutes during the day to do nothing but worry.
That way, as worries arise, you don’t need to go through the difficult process of denying them. Instead, accept the worry compassionately and promise that it will have its turn at a later point. You’ll still be worrying, but much less and not all of the time. Delaying your worrying habit is also a good way to teach your mind that as pressing as something feels, priorities in reality are different.
A big reason why we worry is that we get caught up in negative thoughts. They take over our rational thinking skills and weaken our ability to reason through situations. Negative thinking transforms bad things into emotional and personal issues, rather than letting your brain place them in the correct perspective.
Meditation is all about training the brain to regain the ability to place thoughts in the right perspective. By forcing the mind to focus on the present moment, often through deep breathing exercises, worries and negative thoughts are forced to take a back seat. You realize through mediation that none of your worries are as imminent and dreadful as you may think.
After all, if you have your breath and you are able to focus on it, you are generally safe, well-fed, and healthy. This doesn’t mean that your problems are unimportant, but it does mean that you are not the sum of your problems and you are not obligated to invest emotional energy into them. Meditation reminds you that the core parts of your life are taken care of: you’re here, you have your breath, and you have control over your consciousness.
Meditation has the added bonus of activating the thinking parts of your brain, which is called the prefrontal cortex. By meditating, you not only get to relax, you are also enhancing your brain’s ability to address the root of your worries rationally and find a solution.
There is almost no end to the positive mental and physical effects of meditation. If you are interested in learning more, check out our articles on meditation.
4. Think Positively
Next time a worrying thought enters your brain, turn that worry upside down. Look at what you are worried about and try to transform it into something positive. Be creative and discover the upside of whatever issue ails you.
For example, maybe you are worrying about getting older. There are negatives associated with aging, to be sure. But what about all of the positives? Better self-esteem, more wisdom, and life experience are hopefully coming your way.
Another common worry is stressing about what others think of you.
“Did I say something stupid?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
Instead of worrying about whether this or that person values your presence, see it from the vantage point of filtering out people who don’t deserve to be in your life. Those who love you should love you for who you are — all of you. Use worries about what others think of you as opportunities to appreciate your existing friends and family: those who have stuck with you despite your faults.
A great tactic for increasing positive thinking is to keep a daily gratitude journal. This simple exercise is about writing down three things you are happy about every day. It can be as simple as feeling grateful for your last meal or your warm bed. After all, these are privileges that are not accorded to everyone.
5. Refocus Your Life
If you’re very busy, and the only things you do are address other people’s demands on your time, it’s easy to become apprehensive. Find relaxing hobbies or start to work on a project that is personally fulfilling to give your mind a break and address your needs.
By finding something that is enjoyable and engrossing, you’re giving yourself the chance to distract yourself from your endless stream of anxious thoughts. You can focus your energies on something outside yourself.
One such activity is exercise. When you are lifting heavy weights or are pushing hard over a hill on your bike, your mind becomes preoccupied with fulfilling these difficult physical tasks.
When your workout is over, your body will have released hormones called endorphins which act as natural anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications. Indeed, in addition to being excellent for your physical health, exercise improves your mental health. It is so effective that it’s been used as a treatment for anxiety and depression.
Amplify the positive effects of exercise by setting goals. For example, if you want to get into running, aim to complete a race. Learn a new sport or active skills, such as dancing. In this way, you’ll have regular activities to plan around and think about, instead of constantly worrying.
Although exercise is highly recommended, you can also take up another type of hobby. Make sure that it’s something that you are genuinely interested in and that gives you joy. Painting, learning a new language, and reading for pleasure are all great options. The goal is to take your mind off the rest of your life and its internal struggles and focus it on this external object. It is similar to meditation, but easier to pursue for longer periods of time.
6. Try Spire
The Spire Stone is a great tool to help you along the way to reducing or eliminating your exaggerated worries. Worries bubble to the surface and affect you negatively without your consent. Stressful thoughts simply appear, unbidden and despite your will.
Spire is a tool that tracks your body’s breathing signals and can predict when your body is falling into a state of stress. When you becoming stressed, it sends a signal to your phone telling you it’s time to take a break and relax.
This break can be as simple as a few quick breathing exercises, or it might mean it’s time to really unplug and go for a rigorous HIIT session at the gym. Spire helps you identify and stop stress before it becomes a problem, and helps you maintain a calm, relaxed state all day long.
Relief For the Chronic Worrier
Worries wear you down emotionally, working in tandem with external pressures that stress you out. Excessive worries often do nothing to help address real concerns. Since when did worrying solve anything?
Learning how to stop worrying so much is an important way you can improve your happiness levels and overall well-being. Once you find that you’ve stopped worrying, you’ll find that you have more energy and mental capacity to address the problems in your life in a real and effective way.