I am a self-professed worrier, and I have been since I was a little girl. My mother used to say, “Annie, worrying won’t fix it”. Through the years, I have worked hard to reduce my worrying. I am constantly practicing techniques to minimize worry and I thought I’d share the ones I’ve found most helpful.
Before we look at how to fix it, it’s important to understand why it’s so hard to stop worrying. Whatever you do while I’m describing this, DON’T THINK OF PINK ELEPHANTS! Pretty impossible not to right? That’s because when we tell ourselves to not do something, we think about doing it even more. Just telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work.
So if you find yourself worrying, what can you do? Try these techniques:
1. Is it a problem you can solve? If it is, brainstorm solutions and work toward solving it. If you can’t do anything about it, give yourself permission to let it go.
2. Give yourself a “worry-time”. Rather than trying to stop worrying all together, give yourself a specific time think about all of the things weighing on your mind. The next time that discomforting thought runs through your head, write it down and think about it during your “worry time”. (Try not to make your worry-time right before bed.)
3. Identify the thoughts causing you to worry. Usually there is a distorted thought in there somewhere like, “I’ll never be able to handle that” or “Why does this always happen to me?”, or “What if…”. Challenge these thoughts and ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- What’s the chance of that really happening?
- Is the thought helping me?
- Is there a better way to look at it?
4. Pay attention to triggers. Are there certain situations, problems, or people that cause you to worry? If possible, stay away from those situations and people. Sounds like common sense, but common sense isn’t always common practice.
5. Be grateful. This is probably my favorite strategy. When I really start to worry, I stop and realize my problems are first world problems. There are so many things that could be worse, and I take time to be grateful and thankful for the things I have.
Some worrying is helpful, and it’s definitely normal. Too much worry creates unneeded anxiety. If you’re a worrier, try these techniques and let me know how they work for you! Also, visit us on Facebook and tell us what you do to minimize worry!