Don’t Let Worry and Anxiety Rule Your Life
Worrying can be helpful when it spurs you to take action and solve a problem. However, when you are bogged down by the “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, worrying and the anxiety that comes with that can become a real problem. Unrelenting doubts and fears can be paralyzing. Overwhelming worry can deplete your energy, send your anxiety levels soaring, and interfere with your daily life. The good news is that chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective.
So, why is it so hard to stop worrying? Constant worrying takes a toll on us. We stay up late a night thinking about our problems, it makes us irritable, tense and can invoke fear. For most chronic worriers, the thoughts are powered by both positive and negative beliefs. There is not one person who has a behavior that isn’t reinforced or does “something” for us. We may not know exactly what our worrying is helping us with, but it’s there… On the positive side of things, you may believe that your worrying may help you avoid situations, prepare you for the future let downs or it could lead to solutions. On the negative side, you may believe that your worrying is affecting your physical health, harmful to you, doesn’t solve any problems or that it is getting out-of-control and taking over your life.
So, let’s stop this worrying…
It is hard to focus on work, school, and daily life when you are having constant thoughts of worry. You are not going to control your worry, in fact, you are giving yourself permission to have the thought. You are just going to postpone your worry for a specific time during the day.
Step 1: Create a specific time to worry. Choose a set time and place that you will be able to worry. Try to make it the same for everyday. For example if you decide that 6:00-6:20pm is a good time for you in the living room, do it like this every day. Do not make the worry time within 30 minutes of your bedtime due to possible high anxiety levels that prevent you from sleeping. This is your time and you can worry about whatever it is you need to worry about.
Step 2: Postpone worrying. If during the day an anxious thought or worry comes into your head, acknowledge the thought, writing down a brief note about when, where and what it’s about and then postpone the thought until your specific worry time.
Step 3: Review your worry list that you created during the day. Take out the paper you used during the day and reflect on what’s on there. While you are going through the list, pay attention to if the worry is still bothering you or if it no longer seems to be a problem. If it’s still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about it. If it doesn’t seem to bother you now, don’t worry about it and you may be able to cut your worry time.
By doing these three steps, you will teach yourself that you don’t have to dwell on the problem and that you do have control over your thoughts. Keep doing this and you will find that your worrying will decrease.