If you’re someone who worries a lot, know there are many people out there who can relate… myself included. After awhile the amount of worry can really start to weigh on you. Beating it doesn’t have to be hard, though, as there are simple ways to stop worrying so much that you can start practicing right this second.
I worry about everything — and I mean everything. Usually it’s stuff I don’t have control over at the moment. I worry I’ll start losing my memory prematurely. I worry I’ll never get married. I worry my dad will get in a car accident if he eats ice cream while driving because I’m still traumatized by that happening to Dawson Leery’s dad in Dawson’s Creek. The things can go through my mind are sometimes utterly ridiculous, I know, but I’ve always felt that there was no way to prevent the thoughts. Here's the truth, though: There are many things all of us worrywarts can do to alleviate our bogged-down brains.
Why do we worry? Much of it has to do with uncertainly about the future and how things will play out. However, with these sorts of worries there is simply no good reason to dwell on these thoughts. No matter how hard we try, none of us are able to control everything that’s going to happen down the road, so worries about these things can basically be useless. Here are six simple ways to stop worrying so much for those out there who can’t stop thinking about if they turned their straightener off this morning before leaving for work (deep breaths — you probably did).
1. Make A List & Look At It Closely
If you’re a worrier, it's likely you have a ton of thoughts bopping around in your head at any given moment that are inducing that worry. A quick and easy way to begin to tackle them is to make a list of these worrisome thoughts, according to WebMD.
Write down everything that’s causing you worry so you can see them right there in front of you. Then, examine the list and determine which things are a productive worry versus an unproductive worry, WebMD suggested. Productive ones will be something you can actually do something about (e.g., if you’re concerned you’ll forget to pay a bill again this month, you can go online and set up an automatic payment). Unproductive worries are things you reasonably cannot do anything about today (e.g., if you’re worried that one day you’ll get a terminal illness, despite having no current health problems). Take action on the thoughts that are productive, and try to dismiss the others.
2. Focus On The Now
Likely, many of those unproductive worries you pinpointed in your list are things that you wouldn’t have to face until far down the road. To avoid that unnecessary worry, PsychCentral suggested trying to keep your mind focused on the now. The outlet recommended concentrated on the current moment at hand, and not letting your mind wander to the future, which by nature, has far more uncertainties associated with it.
3. Phone A Friend
Outside parties are often really helpful in rationalizing your worries. The Daily Mail spoke to Professor Ad Kerkhof, author of “Stop Worrying,” who said sharing your worries with someone can alleviate the burden of them. Your close friend or family member might be able to talk you out of the feelings, or could bluntly tell you what you’re worrying over nothing and have a good laugh with you about it. After all, by over-worrying and not having an outlet for them, we’re technically torturing ourselves, Kerkhof said. “Worrying is a form of self-torture,” he added. “Our own thoughts often make us suffer a great deal.”
4. Make Meditation Your New BFF
Aside from the help your real friends will give you, try bonding with a new BFF — meditation. According to the Huffington Post, meditation can help anxiety in the brain. The outlet cited a study from the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience which showed mediation lowered anxiety levels and had effects on the regions of the brain that control emotions and worrying. Try starting your day with a meditation session. It might set your mind in a good, relaxed place to take on the day worry-free.
5. Grab A Grapefruit, And Take A Smell
The aroma of grapefruit is a worry-reducer as it can help reduce stress, according to Fast Company. The outlet cited a study that showed the essential oils of grapefruit proved to be revitalizing and boosted the body’s feelings of energy and happiness. The study participants — oncology nurses who previously suffered from work-related stress — showed significant improvements in tension and worry, as well, according to Fast Company.
6. Try This Rubber Band Trick
Woman’s Day suggested a trick that can help you snap out of worry… literally. The outlet spoke to Vandana Bhide, MD, an internist in private practice in Florida, who explained, “Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap lightly every time you worry.” Bhide said this will serve as a reminder to redirect your thoughts. Then you can banish the worrisome thoughts, and rather get your mind back on more positive things.
If one of your worries is that you’ll never be able to quit worrying, stop your mind right here in its tracks and start to implement some of the practices we discussed above. You’re not going to be worry-free over night, but over time these little habits are likely to help your mind move into a less worry-ridden zone, and for it to become a little more relaxed and carefree. If you feel as though you can't stop worrying despite your best efforts, consider seeing a mental health professional. Additionally, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America provides a great deal of resources on their website to help you, and offers a search engine to assist you in finding the right therapy, as needed.