If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that life is stressful—or maybe that’s just my anxiety talking. I am a professional worrier. I worry about everything: what am I going to eat for breakfast? Oh, I hope the gym isn’t crowded; uh-oh, I might hit rush hour traffic; ugh, I have a headache, what if I’m getting sick? This is how my mind works; I anticipate the worst and worry about essentially everything.
Believe it or not, I used to be a rather optimistic individual, but I’ve just recently adopted this unfortunate habit. However, I am working to shake it before it sticks! Have you found yourself in a similar place? Are you a worry wart? Join me today in putting an end to the constant worrying; simply follow these five steps that I’ve found are sure to get the job done:
1) Designate time for acknowledging your worries.
This might seem counteractive, but the first step to becoming less worrisome is to actually acknowledge your worry. Now, instead of doing so constantly throughout the day, pick a time and place to identify your worries and work on coming up with solutions for them; if you find yourself worrying again at any time later, make it a point to think about something else. This model has proven to help people take control of their stressors, as displayed in a 2011 study conducted by Penn State researchers.
2) Accept the fact that everybody worries—including yourself.
The truth of the matter is that you’ll never completely rid yourself of worry—we all worry, it’s part of human nature. But there is a line that you shouldn’t cross: and that’s worrying about worrying. A 2005 study, which is published in the journal of Behavior Research and Therapy, found that attempting to suppress anxious thoughts can have the adverse effect; individuals wind up even more distraught over their worries. Don’t let it get to that point—instead, accept the fact that we all worry and don’t tear yourself up over it. Give yourself a break.
3) Channel the negative energy into something else.
Okay, so you might have accepted the fact that worrying is a natural part of life—but you still have a lot of pent-up negativity. If that’s the case, try to channel that negative energy into something else. Sweat it out on a long run; belt it out during a soulful song; go out with friends and leave it on the dancefloor—these are just a few ideas, as exercising, singing, and dancing have all proven to help me release that negativity and move it. But something different entirely might be an effective outlet for you. Experiment; whatever it takes to burn through the negativity or cast it away, do it.
4) Practice mindfulness.
Another important step in learning not to worry so much, is practicing and mastering the soothing technique of mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially all about living in the moment. When you’re mindful, you focus on your current experience; you carefully think about your thoughts and your feelings, without allowing them to carry much weight. For example, instead of worrying about getting to work on time because of traffic, you focus on the present moment and tune into your surroundings: the motion of the steering wheel, the tune of the song on the radio, the people walking on the street. Get into the habit of doing this, especially when you find yourself worrying about the past or future.
5) Focus on what’s in your control.
More often than not, we worry about external factors and unforeseen events: we stress over that traffic that’s making us late for work; we worry about our flight being on time; we grow concerned when our A/C breaks unexpectedly. There is nothing you can do to ensure that your flight arrives on time or that traffic remains steady; and you certainly can’t control you’re A/C malfunctioning out of nowhere. Start identifying these circumstances and factors that are out of your control and shift your focus to what you can control—such as how you react to these unforeseen misfortunes. Once you implement these more positive thought patterns, you’ll observe massive improvement in your wellbeing!