Worrying is normal, but negative thoughts can easily spiral into a cycle of anxiety. If you’re someone who struggles to silence the ‘what ifs’ in your mind and are often fretting over the future, family and health, it’s time to take back control. We’ve compiled some proven strategies to help you stop worrying and start living today!
Thoughts are just thoughts
Instead of spending time and energy trying to fight negative thoughts, accept that they are there. The majority of what we think about doesn’t come true or play out the way we expect – if they did, we might all have won the lottery! Instead of giving them any real weight, accept that they’re just one of the 2,100 thoughts you have, on average, per hour and redirect your attention to the here and now.
What can you control?
One worry can lead to another, and then another. Before you know it, your list of things to worry about has tripped and you’re left feeling exhausted and anxious. Switch your mindset to the things you can control. You can control your behaviour, effort and attitude to everything.
It can also be helpful to think about how you can prepare for a situation that is inevitable. For instance, whilst we can’t change a forecast of rain, we can prepare for it by packing an umbrella, coat and waterproof shoes. How can you prepare for one of your worries?
A routine for mind and body
Whether you’re a born worrier or are experiencing a particularly stressful time in life, creating a healthy routine can help you become less vulnerable to bouts of worry and negativity. Fresh air, exercise and eating healthily can strengthen both mind and body. Getting enough sleep is also key. If you’re struggling, try our easy routine for a restful night’s sleep.
A study published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine reported that meditation can also effectively reduce symptoms of stress, overthinking, social anxiety and paranoid thoughts. It’s also important to be mindful of things that can trigger worrying, such as drinking alcohol, complaining or spending too much time alone. By having healthy coping mechanisms up your sleeve, like taking a walk or doing some gardening and meditation, you’ll be engaged in more fulfilling activities that can distract you from overthinking.
Create a powerful mantra
The practice of having a positive mantra has lasted over 2,500 years, so why not give it a try the next time you’re caught in a cycle of worry? It’s not all hocus-pocus either; Studies have revealed that positive affirmations can help prevent depressive thinking and enhance self-esteem. When a worry comes knocking, answer it in your mind (or aloud) with a positive and empowering mantra, such as “I can handle this” or “I can deal with my worries in a calm, logical way”. Repeat your affirmation with purpose and belief to start making a real, positive change in the way you think and feel about your life.
Schedule time to worry
One cognitive behavioural strategy that people find useful is to schedule time for worrying. Several studies have found that this is an effective way to reduce anxiety, as well as claim back time in the day that is otherwise spent worrying. To do this, put aside 30 minutes a day, preferably around the same time, where you can worry. If you start thinking about your problems outside of this time, you can remind yourself that you will have time to think about it later. This technique can give you the freedom to embrace the day and contain worries into a 30 minute block. The only rule? Try not to do this too close to bedtime.
Focus on the present
If the past is filled with regrets and the future is filled with worry, there’s one place you can find peace and that’s in the present. Connect with the present by focusing on what’s going on around you right now, in this very moment. Spend a couple of minutes sitting still. Breathe deeply and soak in the smells and sounds that surround you. This exercise can help you feel more grounded, calm and peaceful when the future threatens to embitter the present. Consider how you can get the very best out of the rest of the day and get started.
Have you been fretting over family problems, your health, finances or issues around your will? Whether it’s booking a doctor’s appointment or reaching out to an estranged friend, taking action can help you move on from a recurring worry. Here’s how you can make an informed decision and have one less worry:
- Write down your worry
- Write down the solutions or options you have
- Decide now on what action you are going to take
- Immediately carry out that decision or action
Used regularly, these tips can help you worry less and make the most of your day. If you’d like more advice on how we provide peace of mind for those living independently, find out more about Welbeing.