Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. – Mark Twain
With all the uncertainties around us, it can be hard to stay grounded. If our minds gets stuck in a worry loop, it can be hard to find balance. We may even believe worrying will help avoid bad things from happening – if we just worry enough. Or maybe we justify worrying because it helps us prepare for the worst, Or maybe we think if we worry enough, we will figure the problem out. Maybe we think it is the responsible thing to do or the only way to not miss something. If we think worrying helps in some way, that makes it a hard habit to break. I caught myself worryingthe other day about something trivial and decided it was time to write a post about how to stop worrying.
There are lots of ways to worry. Do you recognize yourself in any of these?
Catastrophizing – expecting the worst thing to happen. “The pilot said we are in for some turbulence. The plane is going to crash!”
Minimization – downplaying the good things. “The presentation went well but it was just dumb luck.”
All or nothing thinking – interpreting a situation as either all good or all bad. “If everything isn’t just right, I’m a total failure.”
Overgeneralization – believing that having one negative experience means that everything is negative. “I didn’t get this job – I’ll never find a job!”
Negative attention – focusing on the things that went wrong instead of the things that went right. “I missed the last question on the test. I’m so stupid.”
Rumination – continuing to obsess about something negative.
Mind Reading – assuming we know what someone is thinking without asking. “I know she is mad at me.”
How to Stop Worrying
- Emotions create a physical reaction in our bodies. Maybe worrying creates a tension in your chest or an upset in your stomach. My favorite way to stop worrying is this. When I notice my “worry feeling,” I immediately label it for what it is and step back and become the observer, recognizing that I am not my thoughts and let it go.
- For some people, it helps to create a “worry period.” This is a designated time during the day of 20-30 minutes where you sit down and go over all your worries. Write them down if that helps. Then, when time is up, step out of the worry zone.
- Of course, meditation is going to be on the list. Even a simple exercise where you focus on your breath for 5 minutes – or even 1 minute can help to clear your mind.
- Learn to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries. Take steps to solve the ones you can and let go of the ones you can’t.
- Get busy doing something. Exercise if you can or take a walk. Being outside can be very calming if you focus on your surroundings.
The little voice in the back of your mind can always find something to worry about. Try one of these suggestions and remember, you are not your thoughts!
Psychology Today – How to Stop Worrying in Five Steps by Tchiki Davis- 9/7/20
Help Guide – How to Stop Worrying