Worrying is an inevitable part of life. When you worry, it means you care about the people and environment around you. Whether we like it or not, there always seems to be something to worry about: a job interview, an unpaid bill, a call from an unknown number, or a first date, to name just a few.
Indeed, worrying is normal. You can even say that it helps make you feel alive. It is a sign that you are sensitive. However, too much of anything is bad. Normal worry can easily become excessive. In turn, too much worrying becomes unhealthy both for yourself and your relationships.
When you focus a lot on the things that worry you, such as the “what ifs” of life, you risk letting worry control you. Furthermore, when you tend to think about worst-case scenarios, it can hinder you from enjoying life as it is. Constant negative thinking and worrying can drain your energy, both physically and mentally. It can also progress into anxiety disorders and other related conditions.
If you feel that your worrying habits are beyond normal, you can try to reverse it through these strategies.
- Recognize your worry by having a daily worry window.
Again, worry is inevitable. It’s not always possible to shove it under the rug. If you know yourself to be a serial worrier, let yourself give in to worry but only within a set time in the day. Yes, schedule a time for worrying. When you do this, you are giving yourself a chance to think about the things that worry you. This way, they will less likely bother you throughout the day. Here’s how to go about this:
- Choose a period in the day that you can truly relax. Your worry window or period should be the same every day. It should also be done in the same area. For instance, spare 7:00 to 7:15 pm and stay in your bedroom.
- List down your worries and situations or things that will potentially worry you. Do this throughout the day. For example, if your credit card bill arrived, list it down on your worry list and don’t open it until your worry time comes.
- When your worry window comes, go over your list. Take care of the ones you can address right on. For others, make plans. Once your worry window elapses, do your best to stop thinking about your list.
Doing this cuts your worry period short. It also makes worrying seem like a task, which normalizes it enough to not bother you too much.
- Assess the issue: is it solvable or not?
People tend to think that when they worry about a problem, they’re on the way to solving it. However, this is often not the case. Problem-solving, in general, involves evaluating the problem or situation and developing a step-by-step plan to solve it. Meanwhile, worrying is merely spending time thinking about the problem and not making any plans to resolve it.
Now, the first step to developing a resolution plan is to know if the problem can be solved in the first place. In general, solvable problems are those that are currently happening and are actionable right away. An example of an actionable problem is credit card debt. You can start solving it by paying your dues or talking to your creditors.
Meanwhile, unsolvable worries are those that are most likely only in your mind. These are the what-ifs. What if I meet an accident along the way? What if my child catches the flu?
Once you know whether the worry is solvable, don’t waste time. Develop a plan to solve it and get rid of the worry once and for all. Meanwhile, if your worry is unsolvable, learn to accept the uncertainty and try to keep your mind off it as much as possible.
- Interrupt the cycle of worrying.
If worrying has become a part of your daily life, try to break the cycle. When you find yourself thinking about your problems, especially the unsolvable ones, practice techniques that will help you forget them (at least until your worry window). Here are some ways to take your attention away from your worries:
- Get up and do some stretching exercises.
- Walk outside.
- Take deep breaths while counting slowly.
- Practice progressive body scan and muscle relaxation.
- Perform mindfulness techniques.
Mindfulness is the process of getting attuned to the present moment — no thinking about the past or worrying about the future. This involves recognizing the sensations and emotions you feel, as well as what’s happening in your present environment.
You can start this technique by acknowledging your worries. Try to view them as if you are an outsider. Do not judge yourself or the problem and do not react to it. Next, visualize yourself letting it go, as if it is just stale air flowing away. Then, pay attention to the present. Focus on your breathing. If your mind begins to drift away, do your best to go back to the present.
Mindfulness seems like a simple concept, but it actually takes practice. Try doing it every day not just to alleviate your worries, but to relax your mind and body as well.
- Talk to someone about your worries.
Many people hesitate to talk about their worries due to a number of reasons. Some are afraid to be judged, while some simply don’t want to bother others about their problems. However, talking is oftentimes therapeutic. If you don’t wish to be a burden to loved ones or friends, you can talk to a counselor or professional. Who knows, when you talk to someone about your worries, they may have some valuable tips that can help you with your problems.
True enough, worrying is normal. But with these techniques, you can control your worries and keep them from affecting your life and relationships.