7 tips to end chronic worry
Do you feel overwhelmed by constant worries and negative thoughts?
When does a normal worry become excessive? Worries, doubts and concerns are part of our daily lives.
It is normal to worry about a bill we can't pay, a job interview or a first date, but when this feeling persists over time and is difficult to control; when you continuously ask yourself "what if..." and worst-case scenarios come to your mind in a way that interferes with your daily life, you may be suffering from chronic worry.
Constant restlessness, negative thoughts, or always expecting the worst can have negative consequences for your physical and emotional well-being. You may feel fatigued, scared for no apparent reason, suffer from insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, cramps or find it difficult to concentrate in your studies or work. Many people fall into the dynamic of venting their negativity with those closest to them, self-medicating, abusing drugs and alcohol or escaping from reality in front of a screen.
If you feel exaggeratedly worried and nervous, there are ways to overcome these constant negative thoughts.. Chronic worry is a habit that your brain has acquired and re-educating your mind to feel more relaxed, to see life from a more balanced and less catastrophic perspective, is possible.
Why is it so hard for us to stop thinking about it?
Constant worrying can keep you awake at night and keep you nervous and tense during the day. Even if you hate feeling this way, you don't know how to stop it. Our beliefs, both negative and positive, fuel anxiety and irrational thoughts.
Negative beliefs about worrying cause you to have the feeling that you are going to lose control, that you are damaging your health, that this will never end. These negative beliefs, or "worrying about worry," cause you to fall into a vicious cycle.
Positive beliefs can be just as damaging. They can lead you to think that your worry will help you avoid bad things happening to you, avoid problems, be prepared for the worst, or lead you to a solution just by thinking about it a lot. It will be more difficult for you to break the habit of worrying if you think it benefits you in any way. When you realize that worrying is not the solution but the problem, you will be able to start controlling your mind.
Useful tips to end chronic worrying
Fortunately, From psychology we have a few rules that we can apply to lower this level of worrying.
1. Set a time to worry
Give your mind permission to worry, but only during the time you have established.. When negative thoughts appear you should postpone them, not avoid them, but leave them for later. Establish a schedule, which should be the same for each day (for example, at coffee time from 15:00 to 15:20), during this period you can give free rein to your negative thoughts, but outside this time they will be strictly forbidden.
Write down your worries. When a negative thought strikes you, write a brief note and go on with your tasks. You will have time later to think about it, so you don't need to do it now.
Read your list of problems during the set period. If what you have written down continues to cause you discomfort, give yourself permission to think about it, but only during the time set aside for it. If, on the other hand, it seems to you that its intensity has disappeared, shorten the time of concern and enjoy the day.
2. Debate with yourself the veracity of your negative thoughts.
If you suffer from chronic worry, it is possible that your view of the world is more threatening than it really is. For example, you may exaggerate the possibility that things will go wrong, imagine worst-case scenarios, and take for granted the veracity of our ideas. You may also underestimate your ability to cope with everyday problems and assume that you won't be able to cope. and assume that you won't be able to handle them. These types of thoughts are known as cognitive distortions, they include:
- Thinking that everything is either black or white, with no regard for the middle ground. "If things don't go well, it's because I'm a complete disaster".
- Generalizing for the simple fact of having had some negative experience, believing that this will always be the case. "I didn't get that job; I'll never work again."
- Giving too much importance to negative things and belittling positive things. "I answered the last question on the test wrong; I'm dumb." Highlighting mistakes and forgetting successes.
- Belittling accomplishments. "The presentation turned out to be a success, but it was just a matter of luck."
- Expecting the worst to happen. "The pilot said we're going through turbulence; the plane is going to crash."
- Berate yourself for what you should have done or what you shouldn't have done and punish yourself with continual reproach. "I shouldn't have initiated the conversation with her; I'm an idiot."
- Labeling yourself for past mistakes. "I'm a mess, I'm boring; I deserve to be alone."
- Taking responsibility for events beyond your control. "It's my fault he had that accident; I should have reminded him to drive slowly."
How to refute these thoughts
When you feel plagued by these thoughts, ask yourself the following questions:
- What evidence do I have that this is true, and what evidence do I have that it isn't?
- Is there a more positive or realistic way of looking at the situation?
- What is the likelihood that this scary thing will actually happen? If the chance of it happening is low, what is more likely to happen?
- Does this thinking help me or hurt me?
- What would I tell a friend who raised this concern with me?
3. Distinguish between what is solvable and what is not.
Studies have shown that while you are busy worrying, you feel temporarily less anxious.. Dwelling on the problem makes you mistakenly feel that you are doing something to solve it. But worrying and solving something are two very different things.
Problem solving involves assessing the situation, determining the steps to take to deal with it, and then putting the plan of action into action. No matter how much time you spend thinking about the worst that can happen, it doesn't make you any more prepared to deal with it if it does happen.
Is your problem solvable?
A solvable problem is one that allows you to take immediate action to solve it.. For example, if you are worried about your bills, you can call your creditors and renegotiate the due date with them.
Worries that lead to nothing are those that do not allow you to take any action and are unsolvable. "What will happen if I get Cancer one day? What do I do if my child has an accident?"
- If it has a solution, brainstorm all the possible solutions you can think of. Focus on the things you can change and leave aside those things that are beyond your control. Once you have evaluated your options, start the action plan. Once you have a plan and start executing it, you will feel much better.
- If there is no solution, accept the uncertainty. If you suffer from chronic worry, your worries are likely to be of this type. Worrying gives you the feeling that you can predict what the future holds and thus prevent possible unpleasant surprises. But that's not how things work. Thinking about the things that can go wrong doesn't make life more predictable. Focusing only on the worst that can happen prevents you from enjoying the good times in the present. You must fight your need to have everything under control and to look for immediate answers.
4. Interrupt the vicious circle
When you suffer from chronic worry you feel like your thoughts are spinning on an eternal wheel, that you're out of control, that you're going to go crazy or that the weight of anxiety will eventually crush you. But you can follow these steps to interrupt this anxiety spiral and give yourself a break:
- Exercise. Moving your body releases endorphins, which help relieve tension and stress. Focus your attention on what you feel while running, dancing, walking, on your breathing and the rhythm of your heart.
- Sign up for yoga or tai chi classes. These Eastern disciplines keep your attention in the present, help clear your mind and promote well-being.
- Breathe deeply. When you are worried your breathing speeds up, leading to more severe anxiety. By practicing deep relaxation exercises you can calm your mind.
5. Share your worries
It may seem like a very simple solution, but you may want to talking to a trusted friend or family member who will listen to you carefully, without judging or criticizing you, is the most effective way to calm your anxiety.without judging or criticizing you is the most effective way to calm your anxiety. When you see that you are about to spiral down, verbalizing your worries will help make them seem less serious.
Keeping things inside will only magnify them and end up being overwhelming. Sharing them with someone you trust will help you see them in perspective. And if your worries are justified, maybe someone else's perspective will help you find a solution.
6. Practice mindfulness
Normally, worrying involves focusing on the future: what might happen and what you might do to avoid it.. Or in the past: reproaching yourself for what you have said or done wrong. Mindfulness helps to focus on the present and therefore to free yourself from worry.
- Recognize and observe your concerns. Don't try to ignore them or fight them, simply contemplate them as if you were an outside observer, without reacting or judging.
- Let them go. You will notice that when you do not pay attention to these thoughts that suddenly appear, they will eventually disappear like clouds in the sky pushed by the wind.
- Keep your attention in the present. Focus your attention on how your body feels, your breathing, and the thoughts that come into your mind; if you get caught up in any of them, bring your attention back to the present.
- Do this daily. It takes time to master this technique, so don't be discouraged if you find it difficult to control your negative thoughts at first. Just interrupting them and returning to the present will help you reinforce the routine and create the habit of breaking the spiral of worry.
7. Go to a professional
Psychological health professionals can help you better understand the causes and triggers of your concern. In addition, they will offer you tools adapted to your case so that you can work on these emotional blocks, they will offer you tools adapted to your case so that you can work on these emotional blockades until you are once again in control of your present and your future.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)