Although worrying can help you see problems more clearly and assist you in generating solutions, it becomes a problem in itself when it leaves you constantly paralyzed by frightening “what if?” questions.
Thankfully, there are smart things you can do to reduce your anxiety levels, stop worrying, build up your resilience and train your brain to look at life from a calmer perspective.
First, have a look at the flowchart questionnaire below.
So I strongly recommend you go through this flowchart before continuing.
After you've done with this initial self-assessment, read on for the details on the 5 techniques that should help you stop worrying.
So there you go.
Hopefully, now you see your problems a bit clearer and understand that there ARE ways to deal with the stress.
(By the way, if you want to print this flowchart out to keep for the future or just save it on your phone/computer), click this link here for a Free Downloadable PDF.
The point of this flowchart is really to just help you feel less trapped in your vicious circle of worry.
And to inspire you to TAKE ACTION to break out of it.
You may have noticed that there are a few exercises that were recommended in the flowchart. Here is a list of them with some resources that will help you get the most out of them.
Exercise #1. Writing your worries down.
Exercise #2. Making an action plan based on the list of possible solutions to the problem. And taking action right now.
Exercise #3. Challenging anxious thoughts.
Exercise #4. Mindfulness meditation.
Exercise #5: Recognizing problems that you can solve.
Exercise #6: Practicing positive affirmations.
Exercise #7: Letting the negative people go.
Exercise #8: Writing in a gratitude journal.
When you try to force yourself to stop worrying, the distraction is temporary. Soon, you find your mind wandering back to the source of anxiety. It’s much more effective to postpone worries, giving yourself permission to entertain them but only within a very specific time frame.
For example, you might allow yourself to worry for 20 minutes every day at 5 pm, but decide that every other time of the day needs to be worry-free. If you start thinking about something that causes stress or tension, remind yourself you’ll have time to consider it later, and then turn your attention elsewhere.
Writing down the worries can be a good strategy here, as, first, they may not seem that important or overwhelming once you have them on paper, and, second, you’ll know you can easily return to them during the designated worry period. This whole trick helps to teach you that you have much more control than you previously thought!
Studies show that you actually feel less anxious while you’re worrying (albeit temporarily) because you get the sense you’re accomplishing something. However, problem-solving is much more effective than worrying when it comes to evaluating and addressing life’s problems. So, try to switch to problem-solving as often as you can.
Every time you’re worrying about something, immediately ask yourself some questions that will help you see whether there’s a solution. For example, is this problem live, or a “what if”? How likely is the imagined scenario to come to fruition? Can you do anything to prepare or control the worrying situation?
If your problem is solvable, you can immediately start brainstorming solutions and even begin taking action. Look at the things you really have the power to change (rather than things beyond your control), and create a plan of action.
Meanwhile, if your worry is unsolvable, tune into your emotions; what feelings might worrying be helping you to repress? Look directly at your feelings, consider their source, ask yourself why these feelings might be especially hard for you to accept.
When you find yourself worrying in unrealistic ways, work to challenge your underlying assumptions. For example, if you worry that you’re bad at your job, first ask yourself what’s so scary about this.
Next, consider what evidence you actually have to support the truth of this concern, and if you find it is a cognitive distortion then try to replace it with a new, more accurate belief.
Finally, consider what you would do if your worry was accurate; you’ll hopefully soon see that you have the resources to deal with the situation, even if it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to deal with it.
Difficulty tolerating uncertainty is a key part of most people’s struggles with worry and anxiety; if you’re a worrier, you probably hate the idea of doubt and wish you could predict everything with absolute certainty.
However, worrying isn’t an effective remedy for uncertainty; it doesn’t stop life from throwing unpleasant curve balls or allow you to control every situation’s outcome. When you spend your days imagining the worst case scenario, all you do is rob yourself of potential happiness in the present moment.
Of course, accepting uncertainty is easier said than done. However, simple mindfulness techniques can help you stay anchored in the present, enhancing your ability to enjoy everyday life.
Meditative and pleasurable activities like yoga, listening to (or playing) music and creating art can serve similar functions. Your mind might keep wandering back to the same old worries at first, but have faith that this pattern can change with time, effort and consistency.
Research proves that emotions are contagious, spreading through families, social groups and even places crowded with strangers. If you track how others influence your worries, you may see new avenues to simplify and improve your life.
For example, you might keep a diary of how people and situations are impacting on your mood, which will highlight patterns of negative interaction and help you to reduce such instances.
In addition, choose carefully when you want to talk to someone about your worries; whether you’re dealing with a loved one, colleague or even your therapist, know who helps to calm you down and can see things rationally, and who might feed into your greatest doubts and fears.