Worrying has become a total epidemic in our world.
We worry about what others think of us.
We worry about how we make people feel.
We worry about the future.
We worry about the past.
We live in constant worry about things large and small, and this constant stress negatively affects us physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Our worries feel like they have a purpose—they represent a form of control over the uncontrollable. We think our worrying will prevent a disaster or help us solve a problem. Yet it often does the opposite.
The more I worry about being late, the more red lights I hit. If I’m relaxed, it’s smooth sailing. Have you ever noticed this?
Our thoughts guide our experience, and when we're fixated on problems, the solutions seem to disappear. Excess stress also makes us likely to get hit by “coincidences” that manifest our worries into reality.
Here are four tips to help you stop worrying as much so you can relax and enjoy your life:
1. Have a plan in place.
You can’t control anything outside of yourself—you can only prepare yourself for what's to come. If you’re worried about the future, plan for the worst-case scenario. What would you actually do in the event that your fears are realized? This can feel a little weird, but when you know what actions you'll take, you can start to trust that you’ll be able to rise to the occasion.
2. Minimize reading and watching negative news.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with current events or your favorite show on Netflix, but be conscious of the type of media you're ingesting. Lots of negativity will fill your mind with worry and make you see the world as a dangerous, evil place. Positive, inspiring stories will allow you to focus more on the good in the world. You choose what you allow into your mind.
3. Talk or write it out.
Worry stems from perception. When you overanalyze what you’re worrying about, your mind can go deeper and deeper into a dark spiral that's hard to get out of on your own. Writing it down or talking it out with someone you trust will help you access new, more solution-oriented perspectives.
4. Pay attention to what you can control.
Whether you’re worrying about something you said, what someone is thinking about you, or what could happen in the future, you are placing all of your attention on things that you absolutely cannot control and putting unnecessary stress on your nervous system in the process.
You can put an end to the cycle by focusing on what you can control. Do you need to apologize? Do you need to show yourself some more compassion and respect? Do you need to plan? Focus on what you can control, and the worry will naturally dissipate.