A major part of anxiety is worrying – negative thoughts and emotions running through your mind relentlessly, with seemingly no end in sight.
Whether you worry about something realistic (financial concerns) or hypothetical (often starts with “What if…”), worrying can quickly consume you and impact every aspect of your life.
It can also affect you physically, draining your energy, raising your heart rate and blood pressure, and limiting your ability to live normally.
If you’d like more calm in your day, introduce these simple changes to your life and enjoy the increased positivity.
We say this often, but logging your worries in something like a journal or an app can help build a bigger picture of the problem.
Do the same things set you off? Is it a certain time of day? Did you sleep poorly? By looking at your worry pattern, you can identify trends and situations to avoid or tackle differently in order to reduce the strain on your mind.
If you find yourself shocked at what your tracking reveals, a professional counsellor will be able to help you decipher and address your concerns.
Worry and challenge time
If you find yourself continuously worrying throughout the day and night, try to adopt the ‘Worry time’ approach.
Allow yourself to acknowledge the worry at the time, but then force yourself to cast it aside until later in the day – distract yourself with something that takes brainpower; read, play a game, learn something new, as long as it stops your worry momentum. Write a list for later, if it helps.
Dedicate a fairly short amount of time later in the day – but not so late that it affects winding down for sleep – and allow yourself to worry about the items on your list. While you let the worry into your mind, challenge it. Did it happen at all? Was it as bad as you anticipated? Is there any evidence to validate your concern?
If the answers to your challenges are no, give yourself permission to disregard the worry. If you answered yes, could you work towards solving the problem instead?
Interrupt the worry
When you find yourself overthinking with worry, interrupting your thought process can assist in clearing your mind and redirect it to a more positive direction.
For example, if you’re at home worrying, throw your trainers on and go for a walk or a run. Try and get out in nature and appreciate life. Or, if you’re worried about your workload, write a to-do list for when you return then pop out to the nearest cafe and enjoy a coffee and cake break.
By routinely disrupting your thought process, even with small activities, you can train your mind to react differently when it comes to worry.
Take care of yourself
We don’t just mean eat healthy and take regular exercise (although these are super important too). It’s also important to consider wellbeing activities that help you appreciate the here and now. Mindfulness meditation can be a huge help, as can reorganising your life (declutter the house, sort your finances, etc) and introduce more happy experiences to your life, whether that’s meeting friends for lunch, taking up a new hobby or even trying some volunteering.
By reducing the things you could worry about and increasing positive experiences, you should find your day-to-days are far less worrisome.
Last but not least, talking can never be overrated. Tell a friend, or family member, even a colleague, how you’re feeling. They don’t have to remedy your worry but the act of getting it off your chest will have a great impact. Talk to the cat if you need to!