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Worry Less, Live More: Practical Steps to Calm and Joy

How do you stop worrying about sucking your energy and ruining your life? Well, it's quite easy. The magic solution is to stop worrying.

Well, it may seem downright impossible. After all, worrying comes naturally. It's what humans do.

That worry bug will be persistent. So every time it bites you, crush it. All you need is some practice, a dash of determination, and a pinch of commitment.

How to Stop Anxiety Thoughts | Stop worrying about things you can't control | Stop worrying about the future

I used to believe that worrying was my way of problem-solving. I would spend countless hours working through every scenario. (My problem-solving usually involved backup plans in case the first plan didn't pan out.)

Well, this was endlessly exhausting. I always ended up with tight knots in my stomach. And guess what?

That problem I was so eager to solve using the power of my worrying never materialized.

But after many tight-knit, sleepless nights, it hit me.

I should concentrate on the worries that I could solve, not the ones I had zero control over.

Man, that whittled my list down significantly.

Here's how you can tell if a worry is something you can solve. Start by asking yourself these questions.

Why do we worry

People worry for many reasons – some think by worrying, they might be able to find a solution. This is wrong because worrying focuses your energy on the problem instead of the solution. To some, they worry, because they don’t want to overlook things, they don’t want to be surprised or they want to be seen as being responsible.

How to Stop Worrying - about things you can't control - about the future: How to Stop Anxiety Thoughts

Step #1: Is The Problem Solvable?

Is the problem something that is currently happening, or are you dealing with imaginary scenarios?

What I mean is, are you asking yourself what if this happens, or what if that happens?

If the problem is an imaginary scenario, on a scale of one to ten, how likely is it to happen? Be honest.

Here's one of my past worries: What if I get cancer?

Now on a scale from 1 to 10, how likely is this to happen?

What can you do to solve the problem, and prepare for any fallout? Is the situation out of your control?

Ok, now it's time to take action. Make a list of your current nagging worry scenarios. Let go of perfectionism while making this list.

Now that you've made the list, think of ways you can go about solving the problem.

Example: Maybe you're worried that you may not be able to pay the rent next month. You sit down and plan a course of action that might involve taking a second job to supplement your income. Or maybe you may want to look at planning a monthly budget.

Taking action like this will empower you, sharpen your problem-solving skills, and send worry ducking for cover.

Step #2: Set Time Aside to Worry

- Make worrying a regularly scheduled event. Say every afternoon from 2:00 - 2:15.

- Buy a pocket-sized memo pad and carry it around with you everywhere you go.

- Every time an anxious thought pops into your mind write it down and say aloud to yourself, "I'll worry about this at 2:00 this afternoon (or whatever time you select).

- When the time arrives, get out your memo pad and set a timer.

- Go down your list and worry away.

- When the timer goes off, put away the memo pad.

- Are there still items on the list? That's ok; you can continue where you left off the following day at your designated worrying time.

Step #3: Accept Uncertainty

For a long time, the thought of being comfortable with uncertainty was extremely anxiety-producing. To be honest, the concept seemed utterly ludicrous.

I needed to know what the future held for me.

Worrying made me feel safe in a way. It made me feel like I was doing something, taking control of my life, I guess.

But worrying, making up doomsday scenarios, and "planning" for the worst didn't make life any more predictable.

It wasn't until I learned to challenge my negative, doomsday thoughts that I began to feel empowered and less anxious about my future.

You too can gain the power to accept uncertainty by challenging negative thoughts before they turn into worry.

  Read more here on → How to Stop Negative Thinking

Step #4: Challenge Thoughts that Feed Worry and Anxiety

Part of chronic worrying is seeing the world as more dangerous than it is.

You might automatically believe that the worst will happen despite not having any proof. This is distorted thinking that holds you back from taking reasonable risks and ultimately living life to the fullest.

The simple answer is to retrain your brain.

True, it's easier said than done. But it's doable.

Get a pen and paper, or go ahead and open a word processing program if you prefer.

Now, answer these questions:

 1. What evidence do you have that the thought is true or untrue?

 2. What's the possibility that this situation will actually happen?

 3. Is this thought/worry solvable? If so, come up with a game plan and take action.

 4. Get out of your head for a moment.

What would you say to a friend with this worry? Pretend you're helping someone else with this problem.

Sometimes when you try to help someone else the answers are made clearer.

A study states that keeping a worry journal helps reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). (Out of the 51 study participants most saw a reduction in their symptoms as they realized that many of their worries didn't materialize.)

Here is a video for you:

How To Stop Worrying: Bonus Tips

Here are a couple of extra tips for clobbering those worry bugs.

Take Note of How Others Affect You

You know the saying: Laughter is contagious? Well, the same goes for emotions, especially stress and anxiety.

Being around negative people who bring you down and make you anxious will feed your worries and fears. Limit the amount of time you spend with negative people.

This can be especially difficult if the individual is a family member. In this case, how about declaring certain topics off-limits?

Choose your friends and confidants wisely. It's great to have people you can confide in. But your private thoughts are sacred and shouldn't be shared with just anyone. Make sure the person with whom you share personal thoughts and feelings is trustworthy.

Develop A Mindfulness Mentality

Learning to focus your mind on the present makes it easier to let go of worrying thoughts. Practicing mindfulness meditation is a great way of centering and calming your mind. All the while helping to break the cycle of worry and fear.

Don't expect to be an ex-worrier overnight. It takes time to develop this skill.

Be patient.

But don't be surprised when one day you find those pesky worries begin to fizzle.


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