Many people often wonder what it would be like to live a worry-free life. Millions of people around the world cope with daily stress. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 25% of adults in the United States report living with so much stress that they feel they can’t function normally.
While a certain amount of worry is to be expected, pathological worry can be problematic. Studies have shown that pathological worry is one of the primary causes of generalized anxiety disorder. To effectively address symptoms of anxiety, consider using the following 17 strategies for living a more worry-free life:
1. Accept That Worry Doesn’t Serve You
Some people have the mistaken idea that worry is a good thing. They feel that worry makes them more productive and prepared and shows that they care about situations and people.
However, obsessive worry can be unhealthy for you and those around you. When you worry unnecessarily, it can keep you and those around you from living life to the fullest. Also, physical health conditions can result from excessive worry. Worry can cause weight gain and high blood pressure, among other conditions.
2. Recognize The Source Of Your Worry
One of the next steps in building a worry-free life is to recognize where your worry comes from. For many people, constantly worrying about certain situations or people stems from past trauma. When you recognize that trauma is the source of your worry, you can do your best to cope with the past and let go of what is out of your control. When you are no longer living in the past, you may find that your worry has much less of a negative impact on your present.
3. Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts
One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stress is to be mindful of your thoughts. Pathological worry has been thought to be related to imaginal cognitive activity, or essentially your imagination running away with you.
However, recent studies have shown that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is based more on thoughts than imagination. Thinking about something obsessively can lead to worrying about it to the point of clinical anxiety. Being mindful of your thoughts and consciously trying to put aside unreasonable thoughts can go a long way toward reducing worry in your life.
4. Recognize What You Cannot Control
To live mostly worry-free, it may help to recognize that you cannot control everything and to let go of what you cannot control. This does not mean that you let go of everything and just wait to see what happens. Addressing aspects of your life that you can control may give you a sense of safeness and planning that can also reduce worry. However, if something is truly out of your control, you may experience less stress by letting it go.
5. Strive To Live In The Present
When you are constantly worrying about what might happen, you are not learning to live in the present since you are living in a fearful future. This can prevent you from enjoying life. Instead of thinking often about the future, you might try changing your mindset to focus on the present.
When you live in the present, you can take action to do what you can to prevent future problems, but you won't be thinking obsessively about what might happen in the future. You can accept that the future will bring what it will, and you focus your efforts on doing the right thing in the present.
6. Have Faith That Things Will Work Out
When you have faith that things will work out how they are supposed to, it may help you let go of your fear. Some people find great comfort in having faith in a higher power, such as nature or the universe. This allows them to feel as though that higher power will take care of them and make sure that everything works out the way it should. If you can have this type of faith, it may decrease your worry.
7. Be Prepared
One of the best ways to work toward a worry-free life is to be prepared. When you have something coming up in the future that has you worried, you can devise a plan to prepare for that situation or event. Once all preparations have been made, try letting it go and waiting to see how the situation plays out.
It is possible to be overly prepared for something. While it is wise to prepare for storms, tornados, or other natural disasters common to your geographical area, it is possible to go overboard. For example, hoarding stockpiles of food and supplies may be unnecessary. That said, a healthy amount of preparation may reduce your anxiety.
8. Make Checklists
Like being prepared, checklists can help you eliminate your worry by taking action. When you make a checklist throughout your preparations, it can help you make sure that you do not forget any important details.
Making a checklist can also give you a visual of what you have done to prepare. When everything on the checklist is complete, you can look at the checked-off list and know that there is nothing more to worry about.
9. Don't Dwell On Completed Tasks
Once all of your tasks on your checklists are complete and preparations have been made, you can try to let it go and focus your efforts elsewhere. When you spend a lot of time dwelling on things you have already done, you cannot focus on what needs to be accomplished next. Unhealthy worry often comes from dwelling on things that are already done or that you cannot control.
10. Don't Worry About What Others Think
One of the things that many people worry about is what others think. You may worry about what others are thinking about you, your family, or what you are doing. What other people think is largely out of your control.
When you recognize that you are better off being who you truly are around everyone, you might conclude that it doesn't matter what other people think. When you stop concerning yourself with the thoughts of others, you may find it easier to live a mostly worry-free life.
11. Avoid Overanalyzing Situations
Obsessive thoughts are often a main source of pathological worry. When you overanalyze situations, it can influence your thoughts and create a vicious cycle of obsession and worry.
It can be helpful to look at a situation from multiple perspectives to prepare for the future as best as you can. However, if you spend so much time analyzing situations that you never take action, you are likely going too far. Instead, you might aim to think about a situation for what it is, take action, and then move forward.
12. Be Patient
Sometimes everyone experiences low levels of patience. When you don't exercise much patience, it can cause you to worry more than you would normally. You may discover that the less patience you have, the more you worry about what may happen in the future.
It often takes some practice to develop patience, but if you can increase your level of patience when waiting for situations to resolve themselves, it can help you limit how much you worry.
13. Look For Good Things To Be Happy About
Whenever you catch yourself worrying, you might try turning to the things and people that bring you joy and fulfillment. When you are looking for things to be happy about, it puts your mindset firmly in the present. It allows you to recognize that many things in life are good.
Looking for things to be happy about can also help put your fears at ease. Worrying about the possibility of losing things in the future can prevent you from enjoying what you have now. This can be especially true of relationships. If you are constantly worried about what you will do if a relationship ends, you may not appreciate the relationship that you have now.
14. Practice Gratitude
Research shows that gratitude can make a difference in well-being throughout life. It focuses your mind and emotions on those things for which you can be thankful. When you recognize how many gifts and connections you have in your life, it can help you to set your worry aside for another day.
One way to put this into practice is to keep a record of what you value in your life. You can do this in a gratitude journal or create a social media post. Every day, at the beginning or end of the day, you can name at least one thing from the day for which you are grateful.
15. Simplify Your Life
Simplifying your life can give you fewer things to worry about. When your life is as simple as you can make it, you have less to worry about regarding what you have to lose. This strategy also allows you to focus more on the present and what you have.
To simplify your life, you can start by decluttering your space. Clutter can be physical or intangible, such as emotional clutter. For example, you can cut off unhealthy relationships, reduce your belongings, and live as minimally as possible. When you do this, you may experience less stress because you won't have as many things in your life to worry about.
16. Meditate And Devote Time To Self-Care
When you find yourself worrying, you might consider practicing some basic meditation. Meditation can help you refocus your mind and stop worrying. You can meditate for just a few minutes whenever you start catching yourself worrying about something.
Self-care can also make a difference when it comes to worry. To begin, you can make sure you are eating well, sleeping well, and taking time out to care for yourself. This can help you care more not only for yourself but also for those around you.
17. Build A Supportive Relationship With A Therapist
If you try these methods and continue to experience anxiety and excessive worrying, you might consider seeking the help of a therapist.
BetterHelp’s online licensed therapists and counselors can help you learn how to reduce your tendency to worry. They can teach you techniques to replace old, worn-out thinking patterns of worry with new ones that focus on the positive and the present. You can meet with your online therapist anywhere at a time convenient for you. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar concerns.
“Juli-Ann was an amazing counselor for me! She helped me in dealing with my insomnia, fear of failure, worrying, and also how to assert myself as well. She always responded in a timely manner and really knew what my needs were. She made me feel like and taught me how to live again. I'll always be incredibly greatful for talking to her!”’
“Pam is amazing. She’s been my favorite counselor of the counselors I’ve had! She spends time going through the things that are of most worry or importance to me and helps challenge me in ways that make me a better person and partner.”
How can I live a life free of worries?
Experiencing worry is a normal part of being human, so it is likely not possible for you to ever live a life completely free from worry. However, there are steps you can take to reduce worry in your life. Stress relief techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and journaling have all been demonstrated to be effective ways of managing and in some cases even eliminating worry.
How do you live your own life and not worry about others?
Humanity is a relational species, meaning our physical and mental well-being are often dependent on having healthy, meaningful relationships with others. These relationships can be complex, though, and worrying about people you care about (or worrying about other people’s opinions of you) is a natural part of such complexity. One way to not worry as much about other people is to identify and focus on what you can control. It can be helpful to take a step back from a situation and determine which aspects of it you can influence, and which you cannot - and to realize that other people’s actions and opinions will typically lie outside of your control).
Is it possible to be worry-free?
Worry, anxiety, and fear are all evolutionary mechanisms humans developed to keep themselves (and others) safe. It is likely not possible to be worry-free in the long term. However, you can minimize your worries, and reduce the negative impact worrying might have on your life. One way to alleviate worrying, which typically involves focusing on the future, is to intentionally try to live in the present moment as much as you can.
How can you focus on yourself without worrying about others?
It can be difficult to not worry about other people, especially people you care about. Finding yourself lying awake at night stressing about other people’s problems is typically not beneficial for your own mental health, though. In these situations, having an outside perspective can be helpful. Talking to an unbiased, like a licensed professional counselor, may help you to better understand the ways in which worrying about others might be taking a detrimental toll on you.
What happens when you worry about what others think?
Worrying about what other people think of you can cause you to second-guess yourself and your own decisions. You may act in ways that are not true to yourself and your values, which can lead to a sense of internal conflict. It is natural to worry about how other people perceive you, but such worry should not influence you to the extent that you are behaving in a manner that’s incongruous with who you are. If you are having difficulty with worrying too much about the opinions of others, it may be helpful to repeat the words of a self-affirming mantra, such as “I am more than what other people think of me.”
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