Constant worrying is one symptom of anxiety. Fortunately, there are behavior strategies you can incorporate into your life to help reduce the amount of time you spend worrying about events and situations in your life.
Here are five tips and strategies to reduce worrying:
- Learn the signs of beginning to worry and notice that it is happening. Take notice of when your worrying starts. Constant worrying can become a habit and in order to break the endless cycle, you must first notice as soon as it begins. The sooner you act to break the cycle of worry, the better chance you have of overcoming the sometimes devastating impact chronic worry can have on many aspects of your life.
Keep track of how many times worrisome thoughts enter your mind. This can be done by carrying a small notebook with you and putting a checkmark each time you notice that you have begun to worry about something. This is important information so that you can see progress when trying to reduce the amount of time you spend each day worrying about something. Continue to keep track to determine if you have been able to reduce the amount of times and the duration of the worrying that you do each day.
Set aside a “worry time” each day. This may be a 15-minute period of time daily that you actually spend worrying about different things or situations. This should be a time when you can be alone, when it is quiet and peaceful and preferably should be in the same location each day. You may choose to use a comfortable living room chair or the quiet of your bedroom. Use this time to bring out things that are in need of solutions. Try to spend this time not just thinking about what may need attention but to actually find solutions to those problems.
When you notice that you have begun worrying about something, write it down in your notebook (see #2). Once it is written down, put the thought aside and wait until your “worry time” to go over the thoughts. Immediately start or continue an activity to keep your mind occupied in order to keep the worrying thoughts away. This should help eliminate some of the time you spend during the day worrying about situations. Instead of worrying throughout the day, you have given yourself permission to worry for a set amount of time each day. This may help you to come up with more thoughtful solutions to problems than spending time worrying when there are other things going on around you.
- Focus on what you are doing right now. This will allow you to give undivided attention to what needs your immediate attention. Using this in combination with setting worrying aside to later can help you live more productively in the present time. Worrying usually occurs about things or situations that are not in the present, but may have happened in the past or may still be yet to come. These things do not need your immediate attention. Instead, spend your time right now focusing on what you are doing.
Although these tips sound easy, it is not always easy to change what has become comfortable to you. Worrying may be part of your everyday life. Changing thought patterns is a difficult thing to do. Often, people with chronic worry problems may need the help of a professional or a support group. Seek out online support, such as the one here at AnxietyCentral.com or join a local support group. Psychologists can also help with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to help overcome chronic worry.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.