Ten Strategies to Tame Chronic Worrying

Health Writer

We all worry about what may happen. When we are sick, we may worry about what the symptoms mean, whether it is serious, what treatment will be needed. When our children go off to school, we worry about whether they will manage on their own. Our lives are filled with worry. But sometimes, worry becomes chronic and interferes with our daily lives.

People worry because they think they will be able to prevent something bad from happening. Most people that are chronic worriers think if they imagine all the bad things that may happen, they will be able to catch any ripples early and prevent problems from occurring. Chronic worrying, however, is rarely a way to improve your life. Chronic worrying can lead to troubled sleep, muscle tension, headaches or stomachaches.

There are a number of strategies for helping to tame chronic worrying:

  1. Take a few days to observe your behavior and write down each time you begin to worry. When someone is a chronic worrier, they often do not even realize they are worrying, it becomes a habit. This will help you to begin to notice your habits and if there are specific triggers when worrying becomes more apparent than at other times.

  2. Set up a "worry" time in which you allow yourself to worry about events or situations. You may set up one hour at night. During the rest of the day, any time you catch yourself worrying, write down your thought and put it aside until your "worry time."

  1. Use your "worry time" productively. Instead of sitting and worrying, have a paper and pen handy and try to think of solutions to any problems you are worrying about.

  2. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Doing deep breathing is often beneficial for people with anxiety and can sometimes fend off worry and anxiety attacks.

  3. Pay attention to what you are doing now. Worrying about future events can interfere with our ability to complete the task at hand. Practice focusing on what you are doing right this moment rather than thinking about the future.

  4. Make a list of what you worry about. For some of these items, worrying may be helpful and spur you to action to solve a problem, for other items, the worrying may be useless in that you cannot do anything to change the outcome of a situation. For example, worrying about your future health is productive worrying if you are willing to take steps to make healthy changes. Worrying about whether you may someday get cancer is unproductive.

  1. Accept life holds uncertainty. The thrill and excitement of life comes from not knowing what adventures are around the corner. Embrace the uncertainty in life instead of worrying about it.

  2. Use a mantra to calm your worrying thoughts. A mantra is a simple phrase or word you repeat over and over to yourself. Since the mind can only hold one thought at a time, the more you repeat the mantra, the more you drive away worrying thoughts.

  3. Use exposure therapy techniques and repeat a worrying thought over and over again until it no longer holds a negative meaning.

  4. Find support. Whether it is through a local support group, an internet group or just calling to talk with a friend, talking through your worry with someone that is non-judgmental and willing to offer support can help relieve chronic worry.

Each person will respond to different strategies for reducing or eliminating chronic worry from their daily lives. Try using different strategies or combining ideas to help you find what works best for you.

If you are a chronic worrier and self-help strategies do not seem to be helping, contact your medical provider to receive treatment for your worrying and improve your life.

For more information:

Stress Information

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety Support Groups