Do you find that you are continually fighting with your worries? Do they distress you because you feel controlled by them or that if you don’t worry then something bad might happen? Do your worries pour into your head when you wake at night? Finally, when you have started worrying, do you find it almost impossible to stop?
You are not alone! Almost one in ten people find uncontrollable worrying a distressing affliction that feels as though it has become an inseparable part of their personalities and character. Chronic worrying is often driven by a need to worry to “make sure your relationships, your work productivity and your social life. Here are ten tips that you can try out to help you manage your worrying.
- Problem Solve, don’t worry
Worrying is normally a very inefficient attempt to problem-solve. So when you worry, try to turn this into useful problem solving by considering what you need to do now to deal with the problem.
- Don’t Waste Time on “What if…?” questions
Don’t waste time thinking up situations that ‘might’ happen, but in reality are quite unlikely to happen – that is just a misuse of good brain time! Try to spot when you start asking yourself “What if….?” type questions. The vast majority of the scenarios you create using this approach are never likely to happen so why waste time thing about them?
- Don’t kid yourself that worry is always helpful
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your worry will always be helpful. If you are a persistent worrier you have probably come to use worrying simply to kid yourself that you are doing ‘something’ about a problem. This is not an alternative to tackling the problem now in practical ways.
- Learn to accept uncertainty
Uncertainty is a fact of life, so try to accept that you will always have to live with an tolerate some uncertainty. Unexpected things happen and accepting this in the longer term will make your life easier and reduce your anxieties.
- Always try to lift your mood
Negative moods fuel worrying. Negative moods include anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, shame and even physical states such as tiredness and pain. If you must worry, then try not to do so when in these negative states because your worrying will be more difficult to control and more difficult to stop. If you find yourself worrying in a negative mood, immediately try to do something to lift your mood.
- Don’t try to suppress unwanted worries
When you do start worry – don’t try and fight or control those thoughts. It is helpful to notice them rather than try to suppress them, because actively trying to suppress thoughts simply makes them bounce back even more! So acknowledge those worrisome thoughts but then move on to doing something more useful.
- Manage the times when you worry
Become a “smart” worrier. If you find that worrying can be useful but it just gets out of control, then try to manage your worry by setting aside specific times of the day to engage in worrying ( e.g. an hour when you have finished work). But also take the time to soothe yourself when this period is over, just to get yourself back into balance.
- Change “What if…?” worries to “How can I….? worries
To be able to manage your worries, you need to understand exactly what they are. Try keeping a worry diary for a week or so. Write down each worry when it occurs – just a sentence to describe it will do. Then late, try and see how many of your worries are “What if…?” type questions. As mentioned earlier, “What if…?” worries are not helpful. You can try to turn these worries into “How can I…? worries, which is more likely to lead you on to practical solutions (eg you could turn a “What if I forget what to say in my interview?” worry into “How can I prepare myself to remember what I need to say in my interview”). You can also go back to Tip No. 2 for handling “What if…?” worries.
- How not to lose sleep by worrying
Very often your worries may stop you sleeping You may find yourself running through every possible problem that could arise and trying to think up solutions. All this will do is keep you awake longer and you will end up feeling tired (and probably anxious) the next day. One solution to worries that keep you awake at night is to keep a pen and paper next to the bed. When you wake up worrying, simply write a list of things you need to do tomorrow (including dealing with the worry). You’ll probably find that once the worry has been transferred to that piece of paper, there is now no longer any need to keep it in your head as well. It can be dealt with tomorrow.
- Stay in the moment
Spending most of your time worrying about things that might happen in the future means that you’ll spend less time enjoying the present and staying in the moment. Acknowledge theories that enter your head but don’t engage them, try to refocus on what you are doing in that moment – watching TV, reading a good book, playing with your children.
Source St John Of God Burwood