Have you ever gotten up at night worrying about something that hasn't happened yet? Is worrying about the future interfering with your productivity or mood? If this is the case, it is time to learn how to stop worrying using some simple techniques.
Worry happens to everyone, especially when it comes to important events, people, and things.
While anxiety is a natural part of life, worrying is a waste of our time and energy. We get caught up in a worry cycle, imagining worst-case scenarios that will almost certainly never come true.
While we may never learn how to completely stop worrying about the future, there are ways to help us better manage that worry and save ourselves time. We'll go over how to do just that in this article.
“Worry never deprives tomorrow of sorrow; it only deprives today of joy.” Buscaglia, Leo F.
Being aware of the costs is part of coping with anxiety. We are better able to create proactive solutions to minimize or eliminate that cost and improve our mental health through relaxation techniques when we raise awareness.
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What is the cost of worrying about the future?
Worrying about what is yet to happen consumes valuable mental space and time.
Worrying not only makes it difficult to complete your tasks, but it also prevents you from seeing opportunities or the steps that lead to them.
Worrying about the future saps your energy, leaving you vulnerable to further worry. Worry is most potent when your energy levels are low.
It is a present-moment joy-crusher that can deplete both your energy and your mood.
Worrying will not bring you to a place where everything is fine. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
Worrying about the future creates a vicious cycle of more future worry.
8 Ways to Get Rid of Worry
When I find myself worrying about the future, I employ the following techniques to alleviate my anxiety.
1. Develop Your Mindfulness Skills
Because worrying about the future pulls us into it, nothing beats some present-moment mindfulness to get us in control of our thoughts and emotions.
Take a look around and take note of what is around you. Describe your immediate surroundings using your five senses.
Using your senses to take note of your surroundings is a great way to bring yourself into the present moment, where future-related worry cannot bother you.
Here is a simple mindfulness guide for beginners.
2. Practice Deep Breathing
Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you're worried? If not, the next time you have apprehensive thoughts about a future event, check-in with your breathing. Chronic worrying can have a negative impact on our physical health if we allow it to continue for an extended period of time. Worrying causes us to breathe shallowly, and deep breathing can help us relax, reduce anxious thoughts, and get out of worry mode. Here are two techniques to help you get those deep breaths in and relax:
Try it right now by taking a deep breath in through your nose and counting to four. Hold it for four counts, then exhale through your nose or mouth for four counts. Repeat four times.
Make sure to perform this technique slowly so you don't hyperventilate or become dizzy.
Breathing in Oxytocin
It actually causes the powerful hormone oxytocin to be released into your brain. This is the same hormone that is released when you hug or kiss someone you care about.
Here's how to practice Oxytocin Breathing:
Take a long, deep breath in, filling your belly with air. When you feel your belly expand to the point where you can no longer take in any more air, slowly expel it with an audible “Ha
Repeat this technique several times until you feel your body relaxing. Worry despises deep breathing, so this is one of the quickest and simplest techniques to employ.
3. Demonstrate Extraordinary Thankfulness
Worry, as you are probably aware, generates negative thoughts and feelings. Gratitude has the opposite effect.
Because your brain cannot think positive and negative thoughts at the same time, gratitude is an excellent technique for learning how to stop worrying. Not to mention that it is something you can do anywhere and at any time, especially if you only have a few minutes to spare.
When worry wakes me up in the middle of the night, I often turn to gratitude. When this happens, I start listing all the things I'm thankful for until I fall asleep again. It works flawlessly.
Take a look around to get started. Begin by making a list of three or more things for which you are grateful. It could be the chair you're sitting in, or it could be the sleeping pet at your feet.
Before you know it, the positive feeling of gratitude will have replaced the negative feeling of worry.
4. Embrace the “What Ifs
It is all too common to want to push worry aside, especially when you have a tight project deadline or a packed calendar. However, doing so invites the worry to stay even longer, so it is not an effective way to learn how to stop worrying.
Rather than trying to ignore the worry, lean into it by asking yourself, “What if what I'm worried about actually happened?”
Once you've determined your answer, consider the following: “Then what would happen?” Continue to ask the follow-up question until you run out of “then what's.”
This exercise always relieves the sting of worry for me. I also leave with a plan in case what I'm worried about occurs.
5. Regain Control
“There is no need to worry if a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it. Worrying is pointless if it is not repairable. Worrying accomplishes nothing.” —Tibetan Dalai Lama
What do you have authority over? What are you capable of repairing? What can you do to avoid whatever it is that you are concerned about?
Worry creates a sense of being out of control and unsafe for many of us. Doing things within our control allows us to reclaim our sense of control and safety.
6. Tighten and let go
Do you frequently feel a tightness in your stomach, chest, or throat when you are worried? Use the tightness to aid in relaxation.
Tighten each and every muscle in your body. Tighten your legs, suck your stomach, clench your bottom, and make fists. Hold your muscles in that tight position for a split second before releasing all of your muscles.
This is known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation. It alleviates anxiety and stress by raising awareness of how the body feels when it is relaxed.
7. Use Worry as a Barometer
Worry is an excellent barometer for determining what is and is not important. Tune in to the gauge if you want to learn how to stop worrying.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is what you're worried about? If you gave it a 5 or less, ask yourself, “Since this thing I'm worried about isn't that important, what is really driving the worry?”
If you gave it a 5 or higher, it's time to turn your worry into a motivator to get started.
8. Write it down or talk it out
Getting worry out of your head helps to reduce it. It's like the old adage that if you shine a light on bacteria, it dies, but if you leave it alone, it grows.
If you don't feel comfortable talking about your worries and emotions with a friend, family member, coach, or another trusted professional, try writing about them instead. Get everything down on paper, then throw it away.
Writing about your future-related worry de-charges it and increases clarity and awareness.
Worrying is nothing compared to you. The next time you find yourself worrying about the future, consider how much it is costing you.
Use one or more of the anxiety-relieving techniques.
Remember that you are not alone in your worry (we all do it).
By following the steps outlined above, you will be able to live a more worry-free life, allowing you to reclaim your valuable time and remain productive.
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