Worrying happens to the best of us. We all will endure stresses in our lives, whether it's through work, our personal lives, our relationships, or even just irrational intrusive thoughts. This worry can get into our brains and can make our day-to-day lives and daily tasks that little bit harder. It would be great if there was some kind of off switch we can press to turn off these worries, but stopping or reducing worry is a little bit harder than that. However, there are habits that you can bring into your day-to-day life that can help your worries to slip away, freeing you to focus on the positive and productive things in life.
Set Yourself Worry Time
So, setting time aside especially to worry might seem counterproductive to reduce worry. But, if you know you’re already going to worry about something, instead of letting the worry take over your thoughts, if you set a specific ‘worry time’ you can start to take control over your worries. Find a time convenient for you where you can word to your heart's content. This can help to free up your mind during the rest of your day, and you might find when you focus on your worries for a limited time, you find yourself working to find solutions to the things you are worried about.
Write Down Your Worries
Most of us don't just have one worry, we have a few, or groups of worries. Sometimes once we start worrying about one thing, lots of other thoughts and worries start popping into your head. If you write them down on a list - and on paper or digitally, not just in your head, you can reduce your worries. It will force you to confront exactly what you are worried about, and once they are written down, you might see that they seem smaller than when they were bouncing around in your brain.
Spending too much time worrying and thinking about things? A simple way to reduce this is to keep yourself busy! It might be obvious, but if you force yourself to do something while you're feeling worried, it can help those worries to float away. Try to occupy your body AND your mind, with something that requires focus, like working out, a yoga practice, or your favourite hobby. When you find the right task you’ll notice your worries go away in moments.
In a similar vein, if you occupy yourself by talking to friends or family, it can help your worries to feel smaller. Chatting triggers the language and emotional components of your brain - which forces you to focus on the conversation rather than going inwards and thinking about your worry. Keep it interesting for a few minutes, and you’ll find yourself focused on the conversation and not your worries.
Meditation works best when you’re feeling moments of calm. So when you aren’t feeling worried, find a moment or two to clear your mind and practice meditation. If you try to not think of anything, and if you do, acknowledge the thoughts and let them go. Mindfulness is hard to achieve, but if you keep practicing you'll be able to enter this state of mind easily - even when you’re feeling stressed and worried.
There are so many benefits both mentally and physically that exercise provides. Working out releases the happy chemical serotonin, and also helps to reduce overall stress - making you feel better throughout the day. Working out can also help to reduce anxiety, which will help you worry less overall. Try working out in the morning, so you worry less throughout the day, or go for a quick walk or jog when you feel worries creeping up on you throughout the day.
We’ve never been easier to contact with the internet and mobile phones. But this constant communication can be a huge source of anxiety and worry, without us even realizing it. Our phones constantly buzzing with emails, texts, calls, and social media can cause worry, as well as using our devices to check the news, social media, and events. It can be easy to let these forms of communication interfere with your thoughts. When you can - disconnect. Turn off your phone and disconnect from the internet for a while, to help you switch off from the outside world.
Get Enough Rest
Sleep deprivation is extremely detrimental to our health. It can actually cause anxiety disorders in people. So if you already struggle from worry, a lack of sleep can make it worse. If you don’t get enough sleep, the brain regions that are associated with worrying get activated. So make sure you get rest when you need it!
Keeping a clean and tidy living space can help to reduce anxiety. Did you know that clutter can cause anxiety? A tidy home means we have a soothing safe space to retire to. And the actual act of cleaning can reduce worry - this is because it can be a meditative act, keeping us present and giving us something to focus on.
Some supplements can have benefits for stress and worry. Daily multivitamins can help to address any nutritional deficits that will improve your health overall. Other supplements to consider are Melatonin; which can help to regulate your sleep patterns to help reduce stress. L-theanine has been proven to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Finally, B vitamins can help to reduce stress and improve mood.
I call these "habits" for a reason; while some of them can work in random, one-off instances, the majority of them gain power when you use them regularly as an evasion tactic for worrying thoughts. Don't be frustrated or disheartened if you're still affected by worries after using one--instead, try a different strategy and work to integrate both as institutions in your life for a healthier, freer mind.
By Amy Cavill
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