10 simple ways to break free from worry

Gosh it seems at times worry haunts me.  It’s either waiting around the next corner, or I feel so oppressive it is like a second skin. Over the years I have learned some ways to help me cope with, and to overcome my worries.

  • Using deep breathing techniques.  Being aware of your breathing, and slowing it down.  Inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 7 seconds.
  • Mindfulness being aware of your thoughts, and emotions and then finding techniques to combat the negative destructive thoughts for example Cognitive Behavioural therapy.
  • Writing down your worries before bed and before a stressful event like exams etc. At the end of the day write down all those thoughts and concerns that have been following you around all day.  Then follow it up by writing the good things that have happened. The things you are grateful for.  Little things, big things.  The object is to end your day in a positive note
  • Exercise, getting your blood pumping, and working up a sweat can be really beneficial. Exercise boosts your levels of Serotonin “happy chemical” in your brain
  • Create a “worry period”Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
  • The inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in anxiety and worry. Chronic worriers can’t stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to predict what the future has in store—a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn’t work.

Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on worst-case scenarios won’t keep bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. So if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers.

  • Be aware of how others affect you. How you feel is affected by the company you keep, whether you’re aware of it or not. Studies show that emotions are contagious. We quickly “catch” moods from other people—even from strangers who never speak a word (e.g. the terrified woman sitting by you on the plane; the fuming man in the checkout line). The people you spend a lot of time with have an even greater impact on your mental state.
  • Is your problem solvable. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like you’re getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things.

Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, you’re no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.

  • Actively identify and challenge your worry. Put it to the test.  Start by identifying the frightening thought, being as detailed as possible about what scares or worries you. Then, instead of viewing your thoughts as facts, treat them as hypotheses you’re testing out. As you examine and challenge your worries and fears, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective.
  • Be kind to yourself

 

karenKaren is a great listener and a solid shoulder to lean on. She has a degree in History and English and a diploma in Counselling Skills. She struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. She understands the importance of having someone to talk to about your struggles. She loves singing, researching her genealogy, cheering for her favorite hockey teams, swimming, hiking and spending time with friends.

You can follow Karen on Twitter.

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