Trying to silence the anxiety in your head is harder than it sounds. When you allow yourself to become overwhelmed by "what ifs," it can seem easy to lose site of reality and be impossible to calm down. Thankfully there ways to figure out how to stop worrying before you allow your thoughts to get out of control. Because while it's true that everyone worries, having constant obsessive, anxious thoughts is emotionally and physically detrimental to anyone.
"Chronic worrying (at its worst) can lead to mental health and physical health complications as we know that there is a mind-body connection. One of the ways to combat chronic worrying is to seek out a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders utilizing such interventions as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety," says psychologist Kim Chronister, PsyD in an interview with Bustle over email.
Having this type of chronic anxiety all the time can feel a lot like losing control, and this feeling is uncomfortable at best and extremely damaging at worst. By learning to accept that you can't control every aspect of your life, you will probably find yourself feeling more at peace with reality. If you're the type of person who worries about the possibility of something happening when you have no proof that it even will, then these tips below will hopefully make you leave the stress at the door and take control over your happiness again. And also remember you never have to do anything alone. If you feel overwhelmed to a point that's beyond what you can handle, feel free to visit MentalHealth.gov to find some experts in your area that might be able to help.
1. Engage In Mindfulness
If you feel that you're starting to obsessively worry about something, take a moment to breathe and acknowledge your surroundings. "Mindfulness involves being completely immersed in a moment (being totally present). Easy ways to become more mindful include taking mindful walks, mindful showers, meditating, or listening to music mindfully. It is about noticing your worry thoughts and allowing them to drift away in the moment so that you can bring your attention back to your mindful walk, moment of meditation, mindful shower etc," says Chronister.
2. Embrace Uncertainty
When you worry, you're stressing over the possibility of something going wrong. Rather than worrying about the uncertainty of a situation, embrace it. According to WebMD, Robert L. Leahy, PhD, said, "When you accept uncertainty, you don't have to worry anymore. Acceptance means noticing that uncertainty exists and letting go and focusing on the things that you can control, enjoy, or appreciate."
3. Challenge Your Dichotomous Thinking
Rather than seeing the extreme of things, remove yourself from limited choices by trying to view the world with a little bit more flexibility. "All or nothing, black or white thinking is known as dichotomous thinking. 'No one at work likes me' or 'I'll never be successful' are examples of all-or-nothing thinking patterns. Challenge these thoughts by writing down a more realistic version (a version more in the middle and not so extreme) such as 'There are people who like me' or 'I am on my way to success,'" says Chronister.
4. Reframe Negative Self-Talk
"Negative self-talk must be reframed into positive self-talk in order to combat worry. Journaling or working with a workbook is helpful in this case," says Chronister. Essentially, if you wouldn't communicate these negative thoughts to a friend, why do you need to say them to yourself? Love yourself by getting rid of these negative, worrying thoughts.
5. Challenge Irrational Beliefs
Sometimes you worry more than you should over a situation that hasn't even happened yet. Instead of letting this fear control your mind, switch it up by thinking of something else. "When we worry, we often catastrophize a situation. We automatically go to the worst case scenario which can be highly irrational. Challenge those beliefs when they come up regularly," says Chronister
6. Eat Healthy
If you're not choosing the right foods to eat, your brain is not going to function the way you want it to. According to Psychology Today, Dr. Deborah Khoshaba, PsyD, said, "Eating nutrient-deficient foods, not getting enough carbohydrates, protein or fat in your diet, or not eating enough can fluctuate blood-sugar levels that trigger anxiety."
7. Incorporate Relaxation Techniques
To help prevent your brain from over-worrying, try to include relaxation tricks in your daily routine. "Current research states that the goal is between 4 to 6 breaths per minute, and that everyone’s “ideal” relaxation response is activated at different breathing frequencies," says Brieanna Scolaro, LMSW, on her website. How do you begin? "Start by practicing 5-10 minutes a day, gradually building up to 15-20 minute sessions each day over time. You can even set reminders on your phone or tablet’s calendar to help you remember. With just 4-5 breaths, you will instantaneously feel the difference, such as your heart rate and anxiety decreasing," says Scolaro.
8. Write Your Worries Down
According to The Huffington Post, a 2011 study in Science found that if you write your worries down before a big test, it could help decrease your anxiety. While some of you may not be in school anymore, this technique could work for anyone who chronically worries all the time.
9. Focus On Something You Can Control
Sometimes worrying occurs when you feel like you can't control the issue and you don't know what the outcome will be. But rather stressing out what you can't do, focus on something you can control at that moment. According to Psychology Today, people tend to worry about a situation to try to find a loophole to their problem, but by doing that, they're actually causing more stress for themselves. Put your energy into something you can manage, like exercising or cleaning your house. Essentially, anything where you're allowing yourself to make decisions.
10. Practice Questioning Your Thoughts
"Just like how you practice for everything else in your life, teaching your mind to worry less can become a habit," says Dr. Robert Reiner PhD, Executive Director of Behavioral Associates over the phone with Bustle. Try to train your brain like any other muscle in your body by practicing worrying less every day and it will help build your condition behavior to become stronger.
11. Pretend You're Relaxed
Even when you're not really feeling calm, you can trick your brain into believing it is. "Anxiety is reinforced when you're behaviorally protecting it (i.e. you get white-knuckled when you're afraid to fly). Instead, pretending to relax forces your emotional system to calm down. This is called fixed role play. The more you do it, the more relaxed you will feel," says Dr. Reiner.
Don't let your worries get the best of you. Your much happier without them. Trust me.