When we worry too much about what could go wrong, it impacts our ability to be happy in the present moment. We also are not living in the present moment if we focus too much on possible future outcomes. By being preoccupied with excessive worry, our minds and thoughts are elsewhere and we become very distracted from the here and now. We have difficulty enjoying what is happening now. Excessive worrying longer-term is also linked to health problems.
How to stop worrying
Constant worry is typically driven by our inner most fears and creates greater anxiety. Greater anxiety impacts our mental health and happiness and we frequently feel more tense. Our bodies become tense with heightened levels of anxiety. We don’t know how to relax or even sleep because we are so filled with our concerns.
The truth of the matter is that obsessive worrying accomplishes nothing except that it harms us and can negatively impact those around us as well. When we are overly anxious, others in turn become anxious or tense. This creates a snowball effect.
So how we do stop ourselves from worrying so much? We need to stop ourselves in our tracks, evaluate the situation(s) at hand and determine whether it is something within our control to change or improve upon or not. If the matter is something that can be worked on, changed or improved somehow, then we can decide from there what actions we can take. We can be proactive and take control of the situation, rather than sit back passively and feel powerless against our own fears.
If the situation is a matter that is completely out of our hands and there is nothing we can do to change or improve it, then we need to accept the possibility that things may go wrong, yet hope for the best outcome. We need to learn how to accept and let go of what we cannot change. There is no sense in continuing to concern ourselves with something that is beyond our control. It only harms us in the end, and we are doing a great disservice to ourselves and others by continuing to fret and worry when we cannot do anything about the situation.
Focus on the present moment
Another way to stop worrying is to focus on what is happening now, today. Today is what matters the most and is what we are living, so shift your focus to the present and remain there. What needs to be accomplished today? What are today’s priorities and tasks, and what are today’s plans? Make a list even, and start doing. Take action and focus on specific tasks. Distract yourself with a task, focus all of your mind on it, then switch to the next task on your list.
When we occupy our minds and actions more with the present moment, we can shift our thoughts and focus. When you find yourself falling back into a worrying thought pattern: notice and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judgement of them or yourself; take note of what the trigger was; notice your body and whether you are feeling any tension; take several long, deep breaths to relax your body, focusing fully on the sensation of breathing and being in your own body; then when you’re ready, shift your focus fully back to the task at hand. Also notice as you breathe that these thoughts are temporary and can come and go. This is what is called mindfulness practice, which is a form of meditation.
Try to also enjoy yourself by doing activities that will occupy your full mind and focus. Read a good book, watch an engaging movie, exercise, talk to a friend, your partner or children. Spend quality time with your children and focus all of your thoughts and energy on them. Again, when you find yourself returning to a state of worry, notice and accept your thoughts without judgement, breathe deeply, then shift and refocus all of your energy back to the activity at hand.
Focus on all that can go right
Another way to stop worrying is to change our negative thinking to the positive. When we focus too much on possible negative outcomes, we are being driven by our fears of all that could possibly go wrong. Doing this is being stuck in a negative mindset, which also impacts our ability to be happy.
Instead, try to think of all that could go right and think about all the possible positive outcomes. Be hopeful for a positive outcome and let go of any negative thoughts. The question you have to ask yourself is – why project a negative outcome onto the future when the future is unknown? We do not know how things will turn out, and we cannot predict what will happen. Try to have hope that things will turn out just fine.
Without hope, we drown in the negative and feel much more despondent about life. To be happy, we must think positively and hope for the best in all situations we face. Hoping for the best keeps us in a positive mindset, which is much better for our mental health and our happiness.
So there are some tips on how to stop worrying. Here’s to your happiness and to your mental health!