How To Stop Worrying And Start Living
By: Rachel Lustbader
Updated February 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Martha Furman, LPC, CAC
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength." - Leo Buscaglia.
Worrying is normal - everyone worries about upcoming tests or challenging situations with uncertain outcomes. It can even be helpful in spurring us into action to solve a problem, prepare for that upcoming exam or apply for jobs. T
There is no point in trying to discover how to not worry at all because this is an impossible goal. But sometimes one nagging thought turns into hundreds of 'what-ifs,' worst-case scenarios, doubts, and fears creating chaos in your mind.
This is when worry becomes a problem when it's sapping every bit of your emotional, physical and mental energy and interfering with your everyday life. It affects both your mental and physical health and can have long term effects on your sleep and immune system, as well as increasing your risk of serious diseases. The good news is that the habit of over-worrying can be broken - you can learn how to worry less. It is possible to train your brain to stay calm, keep a positive outlook and tackle your problems productively. Read on to learn how to stop worrying so much.
Create A Worry Period
Choose a set time and place every day, for example, 5:30-5:45 pm in the living room. It should be the same every day. This is the only time you are allowed to worry. If a worry pops into your head at another point in the day, make a note of it and remind yourself that you will worry about it later, so you don't have to right now. Simply telling yourself to worry doesn't work as the worry suddenly becomes all you can think about. Postponing it until later can help as you know it will still be dealt with, while keeping the rest of your day worry-free.
This also stops you from worrying when you are tired, hungry, distracted or otherwise unable to cope with the worry effectively. When the worry period arrives, allow yourself to consider the thoughts that worried you earlier, but only if they still seem important. If they do not seem important anymore, then cut your worry period short and enjoy your evening. Through doing this you will start to feel more in control of your thoughts and worries, and it will stop worries interfering with your daily life when you have other things to focus on.
Tackle Productive Worries
If you want to know how to stop worrying about something, you must write a list of your worries and divide them into those which are solvable and those which are not. Ask yourself which worries are problems you're actually facing and which are what-ifs. Productive, solvable worries can and should be dealt with right away. The best way to stop worrying about them is to tackle them. For example, if you're worried that you need to find a new job for financial reasons then immediately start job hunting, and plan a budget for the mean time to see you through until you start work. Once you have a plan and have started to take action, you'll feel less worried.
How to stop worrying about the future: accept uncertainty
If you're a chronic worrier, the chances are that many of your worries will be unproductive worries. Most of these will be based on uncertainty rather than something that is actually happening now. Uncertainty is neutral, so there is no point in worrying about a negative outcome when a positive outcome is just as likely. In order to stop chronic worrying, you must accept that uncertainty exists, let go and focus on things that you can control, enjoy or appreciate.
There may be things you can do to prevent a negative outcome or prepare yourself for if this outcome if it happens. This can reduce your worrying but only if you don't devote too much of your time preparing for something that may never happen. You will find over time that many of the things you worried about never happen and those that do are often not as bad as expected. Refer to this quote by Winston Churchill - "When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened." The best way to stop worrying about the future is to accept uncertainty and live in the present.
Don't Assume What Others Are Thinking
Often worries are based on assumptions of what someone else is thinking. But trying to read someone's mind often leads to creating an exaggerated situation in your mind based on something that may not even be happening. Communicate and ask what you want to ask. This is the only way to know what someone is thinking and stop worrying about this kind of uncertain thought.
If they are thinking what you assumed, at least you have removed the uncertainty and can now tackle the problem. It will also promote openness in your relationship, and it will more likely be happier as you avoid many unnecessary conflicts and negativity. Remember that people don't think about you and what you do as much as you think. They have their minds full of thinking about themselves, those closest to them and thinking about what other people think of them!
How To Stop Worrying About Everything - Keep A Worry Diary
It's easy to "catch" moods from other people, especially those who we spend a lot of time with. Keep a worry diary for a week or so. Every time you start to worry write down the thought and situation that triggered it. Over time look for the patterns, and you'll notice that certain people or situations, or discussing certain topics with certain people, make you anxious. Once you have discovered these patterns, you can take efforts to avoid these people or situations.
Make Time For Meditation
A study published earlier this year in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that meditation lowers anxiety levels and helps to gain control over worrying, emotions, and thoughts. Many free resources to calm your body and mind are available online and via apps, and there are also meditation CDs available to purchase. Try this free online resource to get started: http://www.freemeditation.com.
Working out in a great way to de-stress and release inner tension. Exercise helps you to move away from a cloudy headspace and feel more decisive, focused and in control. Tackling physical goals in the gym will also help you to feel in control - if your body can tackle certain things, then your mind too can be strong enough to deal with worries.
Talk About Your Worries
You'll notice that speaking to certain people about your worries will help you to gain perspective, while speaking to other people will make you worry more. Identify who these people are and choose your confidantes carefully. If you do not have anyone to talk to at the moment about the worry bouncing around in your mind, then let it out by writing about it. Just getting it out of your head and reasonin with yourself on paper or on a computer can help you to find clarity and calm down.
If talking to someone close to you about your worries isn't enough, talking therapies and cognitive behavioral therapies can be very useful. Talking therapies aim to change thinking patterns in order to control anxiety and reduce irrational worries. Therapy involves working with a professional to identify thought and behavior patterns which are contributing to your worrying and replace them with thoughts and behaviors which reduce worry and improve coping skills. Talking therapies can also help you to get to the root of your issues which can then help to make them go away.
Talking to a professional can be extremely useful in discovering the roots of your worries, gaining perspective and learning how to tackle them. Better Help is an online counseling platform which aims to overcome barriers which may be preventing people from receiving the help they need, by providing easy, affordable and discreet access to licensed therapists anytime, anywhere.
Patients receive professional counseling via computer, tablet or mobile phone making it much easier to access help. Better Help has assisted over 200,000 people so far and received glowing reviews from people who have experienced huge improvements as a result. Licensed, trained, experienced counselors, specialize in different areas to ensure that all patients can be matched to a highly qualified professional who fits your requirements. Find out more here: https://www.betterhelp.com/about/.
Worrying is a cycle, and once you get caught up in it, you start to worry about worrying. Break the cycle before you get to that point. Try the suggestions listed above to stop worrying from affecting your daily life as soon as possible. If you can't break the cycle on your own, then don't be afraid to seek help from a professional. Although it can seem scary, it's for the best.