12 Ways To Cope With Existential Worry (Because It Affects Us All)

Despite what the current culture of Aspirational Internet Lives would have you believe, most forms of stress, anxiety, and worry aren't only normal, they're healthy. In fact, if we weren't capable of experiencing and feeling these things, we would be robots. We would not be functioning. Our species would have died out a millennia ago. That said — most people do not know how to cope with their worrying, which is how concerned thoughts transform into full-blown panic attacks and chronic issues.

Let's get one thing straight: there's a difference between someone who worries a lot and someone who has some form of mental illness, and while advice like this could help you either way, that doesn't mean it's going to be easy to overcome. Nobody is saying that it's impossible to experience worry and anxiety in a healthy way (It is! Seriously!), but most people would probably agree with the fact that depending on where you are in your current state of mental health, it might vary in general difficulty.

The thing about existential worry (as in, the kind of worrying that has no cure or solution, that has you spiraling and going A-Z) is that it's actually not a problem, it's a symptom. The real problem is usually that you're not handling your day-to-day life in some simple, routine way. (Really.) The people who have the most success in overcoming their worrying, stress, anxiety and so on are those that ground themselves in routine and structure. For example: working out regularly, making check-lists for self-care (paying bills, cooking dinner, going to work), and re-focusing on the fact that getting up and trying your best counts for something — in fact, it counts for a whole lot of something! So here, a guide to getting a grasp on your worrying, one practical step at a time.

Worry Less About What You're "Doing With Your Life" And More About What You're "Doing With Today"

Don't focus on the questions you know don't have answers. The bigger picture is important to consider, in some very specific contexts, but too much focus on where you're headed robs you of paying attention to where you're at.

Make A List Of Everything You've Accomplished For Yourself Over The Past Few Days

I'm talking: showered, went to work, paid a bill, got sleep, spoke to friends, updated your social media accounts, answered emails... anything. Often we think that if we don't suffer for something (or put in tons of hard work and effort) that means it doesn't matter... and that's not true at all. Don't be too quick to write off the important ways you care for yourself.

Consider That The Problem Is Not The Problem, It's How You Think About The Problem

If you're seriously freaking out over something, it means you're focusing on what's wrong more than you are trying to figure out how you can fix it or make it better.

Do Things That Ground You

Engage yourself in things that force you to be present. This includes, but is not limited to, cooking, going outside, talking with friends — anything that takes you out of yourself and into the world.

Determine Whether You Need More Alone Time Or Less

While some people need to seriously be left to their own devices for a little while to seriously debug some of the more wonky issues in their minds, others are left with themselves far too often, and get themselves all in a tizzy just for that fact alone. It's a balance you need to strike, but you also have to determine what works best for you.

Read

The way to change your life is to change the way you think, and the way to change the way you think is to change what you read— so do that. Read about anxiety and life and how other people overcame the odds and persevered and kept choosing themselves and Kondo'ed their closets and fell in love and dealt with the worst of the worst and still came out OK. These things are not nothing — they are everything, and they will change how you perceive things.

Consult Your Future Self

Imagine your life from the perspective of the person you're going to be. What would they tell you? What's there to be grateful for? What are you at risk of missing?

Practice Yoga, Breathing, Or A Meditation Practice

It may seem annoying for how constantly it's preached, but incorporating calming routines into your daily life might not make you feel better instantly, but over time, you'll see a major difference. (Just stick it out.)

See A Doctor

The reality is that your issues could be a product of a chemical imbalance, or an actual mental illness. Don't discount this.

Let Yourself Worry Sometimes

It's healthy and normal to worry and feel fear about things that you care about and want to love and protect. It's not always a cue to have a breakdown; sometimes worrying just means you're telling yourself you care about something deeply, and that's also important to know.

Simply Re-Focus

Sometimes it's a matter of being able to tell yourself to chill out and just stop, and nothing more than that.

Mind Your Mortality

Which is just a cute phrase for the fact that — eep — we're all going to die, and not a smidgen of this will matter. Let this also inspire you to make the most of things while you have them, because you won't forever.

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