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How To Stop Worrying: 12 Strategies To Gain Peace Of Mind

News

Oct 10
A woman out in the forest whose mind is disintegrating because she hasn't learned how to stop worrying.
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Do you want to know how to stop worrying so that it no longer interferes with every aspect of your life?

Worry often starts out innocently enough, with just one niggling thought about what you should do tomorrow. Soon, those thoughts build up into a raging torrent of existential despair. Before you know it, you start to worry about every little thing that could go wrong.

In some cases (like an actual threat staring you in the face), worrying might be a good thing. However, if it consumes your every waking moment, it’s time to learn how to stop worrying so you can get back to enjoying your life.

A man worrying and expressing his anxiety by holding a hand to his forehead.

Worrying all the time can sap you of energy, ruin your mental health, and wreak tremendous damage to your body. It can get so bad that you lash out in anger at those around you, drink yourself into oblivion, or make you so listless you stay in bed all day long, day in and day out.

Excessive worry might be robbing you of the exquisite joy that should be your birthright as a human being. If so, you’ll be delighted to know that there are strategies you can implement that’ll minimize it to the point where it’s no longer preventing you from enjoying your existence to its fullest.

By putting these strategies into practice, you’ll learn to put things in perspective, so that you can learn how to stop worrying by banishing this negative emotional state to the outer fringes of your mental kingdom.

Why Do People Worry?

Worry is a dysfunctional strategy your mind uses in a futile effort to give your life the illusion of predictability. To that end, it gives you the ability to envision an endless cavalcade of doomsday scenarios.

This gets you mentally acclimated to all the million horrible things that might happen to you so they’re not a surprise when they finally happen.

Some people think that the longer the worrisome thoughts go around in their heads, the greater the chance that they’ll miraculously birth a solution to their problem. That’s because replaying your problems in your mind makes you feel like you’re doing something constructive when you’re really not.

All these mental gyrations are an attempt to quell uncertainty, which the mind believes is dangerous beyond belief. As such, they only serve to keep you from reveling in the “eternal” now moment—the only place you’ll ever find happiness and peace.

Here’s what Corrie ten Boom had to say on the subject:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”

A Buddhist boy who has learned how to stop worrying by being mindful of flowing water at a river.

Symptoms of Worry

Worry can cause a whole host of debilitating physical problems, such as:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Loss of libido
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure

People who never learn now to stop worrying tend to use the health care system much more than the average person. They’re also much more likely to suffer from clinical depression.

The Strategies

If you want to learn how to stop worrying, here are some strategies you can use:

1. Set Aside a Designated Time

By worrying every moment of every day, you’ll reduce what could be a joyful life to a dull and dreary existence. However, if you try to entirely suppress every single worrisome thought you have, you’ll only make them worse.

That’s because when you try to stifle any kind of thought or emotion, it’ll come back ten times stronger. Instead, consider setting up a designated time and place for your worry sessions.

Doing this allows you the exquisite freedom of pressing the “pause” button on your harmful mental activity, so you can get stuff done. Give yourself carte blanche to worry during this time, but at no other time.

Just don’t do it right before you go to bed.

If a worrisome thought pops into your head during a time other than your designated session, take it out of your brain by scribbling it down on a notepad. Even the simple fact of writing your anxiety-provoking thoughts on a piece of paper can help them to melt away into nothingness.

When it’s time for your worry session, take each of these thoughts and put them in one of two piles:

  • Productive
  • Unproductive

Productive worries are those things you can do something about. Write each of these at the top of a fresh piece of paper. Then, create an action plan for each one.

Unproductive worries are those over which you have no control. It’s an endless litany of “what ifs”—problems with zero practical solutions that you need to eradicate from the beautiful sanctuary that is your mind. Most of them are based on what’s called “cognitive distortions”—something we talk about in a later section.

 2. Take One Small Step

Taking some action is so much more effective at learning how to stop worrying than engaging in endless mental activity. If you’re feeling resistance, tell yourself you don’t have to immediately do the entire task (especially when it feels overwhelming).

Instead, take one tiny step towards the completion of your project.

This could be as simple as something like spending sixty seconds getting started on something that utterly terrifies you.

For example, if you’re fretting about whether you’re going to be able to pay your bills this month, you could:

  • Look at one “part-time help wanted” ad
  • Get rid of one unnecessary expense
  • Make payment arrangements on one of your bills

Doing a small thing often energizes you to leap into action. By making this a habit instead of wallowing in worry, you’ll go light years in the direction of learning how to stop worrying.

3. Rid Yourself of Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are wildly inaccurate and self-defeating ways of thinking you developed over time.
Here are some of them:

  • ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: This is where you view your problems in terms of absolutes. It’s all black or white, with no shades of gray. For example, you might think, “I’m going to have a horrible time at the party if nobody comments on my cool looking shoes.”
  • WORST CASE SCENARIO: You just know everything in your life is going to turn out not only garden-variety bad, but catastrophically, beyond belief atrocious. It’s like you’re the world’s greatest clairvoyant, but with a grungy and soot-covered crystal ball, seeing nothing but endless misery for yourself and everything you touch. This distortion might cause you to think: “I know my summer vacation is going to be an unmitigated disaster because nothing ever works out right for me.” It might also take the form of mind-reading—believing that someone hates your guts when you don’t have a shred of evidence to support that conclusion.
  • FOCUSING ON THE NEGATIVES: This is where you only look at the one single thing that went wrong, instead of the zillion things that went right: “My customer didn’t like the way I edged her flowerbed. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the landscaping business.” You might even think this after your client praised you profusely for the impeccable way you took care of her lawn.
  • OVERGENERALIZATION: Because things didn’t go your way once in a particular life area, everything will always go wrong in that area. This might cause you to think something like this: “That date didn’t go well. I’ll never get married!”
  • DISCOUNTING THE POSITIVES: With this cognitive distortion, you minimize your strengths and skills: “I got an “A” on that exam, but it was so easy anybody could have done the same.”

Aggressively challenge these dysfunctional thoughts by writing down a more positive alternative to each one. For example, if you thought, “That person hated my speech. I’ll never become a good public speaker!” You could write: “Just because one guy didn’t like what I had to say, doesn’t mean I’m no good at public speaking. I’ll keep perfecting my skills, speak in front of lots of people, and by doing that, I’m bound to get better.”

A man who overcame his worry about public speaking is being recorded by someone holding a phone.

Now, every time the old dysfunctional thought wants to arise, immediately replace it with its positive alternative.

You could also ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where’s the evidence that this thought is true?
  • What’s a more positive way of looking at things?
  • What’s the probability that the event I fear will come to pass?
  • How helpful is this thought I’m entertaining?
  • If my best friend had this worry, what would I say to her?

4. Get Out There and Exercise

When you stick to an exercise regimen, you’ll see tremendous changes to both mind and body.
This can dramatically improve your attitude towards yourself, making you feel as though you can accomplish anything.

This is a huge confidence booster.

Problems will no longer seem so overwhelming, and worry will fade into the background. Working out also floods your mind and body and brain with endorphins, which also boosts your mood.

To maximize the benefits of exercise, bring your complete attention to each movement. For example, concentrate on your legs’ movement as you run or the rhythm of your breath as you swim.

A man who is learning how to stop worrying by going for a nice relaxing swim.

By totally concentrating on the activity, there will be less room in your brain for worry. And, you’ll be so much closer to your goal of learning how to stop worrying.

One of the best exercises to eliminate worry is yoga. This activity has been used by devotees over countless centuries to powerfully focus their mind on the present moment.

5. Talking to a Friend

Expressing your worries to a close friend or relative can help put them into perspective and make them feel less overwhelming.

If your fears don’t have any logical basis, talking about them to a trusted confidante exposes them to the cold light of day. This might be sufficient at robbing them of any power they have over you.

If something can be done about that you worry about, discussing them with a dear friend or family member might spark solutions that hadn’t occurred to you.

6. Have a Support Network

For better or worse, the people you choose to surround yourself with can have a powerful psychological effect on you.

We all know individuals who seem to carry around with them an aura of doom and gloom. We also know of others whose mere presence in a room can instantly lift everyone’s mood.

That’s why if you want to learn how to stop worrying, you should have friends who can provide you with the emotional support you need and avoid those individuals who bring you down. Friends who lower your happiness quotient will only fuel your negative thoughts and increase the things you worry about.

7. Embrace Uncertainty

Worry is a futile attempt to provide your life with some predictability. However, uncertainty will always be present in your life in some form.

You might react to uncertainty with crippling anxiety, afraid of what life might have in store for you. If you do, worry becomes a defense mechanism you mistakenly believe helps you mentally prepare for the worst.

Step back from your mind and take a microscope to the part of it that craves certainty. Try to see how utterly irrational it is. By doing this, you’ll start to loosen the vice grip that this need has on your soul. When you embrace uncertainty with every fiber of your being, you come to realize that not everything is under your control.

You can even learn to revel in the utter deliciousness of this feeling!

Eckhart Tolle had this to say:

“If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”

8. Know When to Say “Stop”

Often, when you’re lying in bed late at night, you’ll find thoughts of worry marching around in your brain. Insomnia can leave you psychologically vulnerable, and worries can arise unbidden and play havoc with your sanity.

When worrisome thoughts completely overwhelm you, put the brakes on all this needless mental activity by mentally vividly visualizing a bright red “STOP” sign. Then, mentally shouting the word.

A man learning to get rid of thoughts of worry by mentally holding up a stop sign.

9. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique invented by Dr. Edmund Jacobsen in the early twentieth century.

Worry and relaxation are mutually exclusive states of mind. That is, the more relaxed you are, the more difficult it is to worry. By practicing this exercise, you’ll also learn to detect feelings of tension, so you’ll be able to let go of it at a moment’s notice.

Like some of the other strategies, progressive muscle relaxation gets rid of worry because it requires concentration. This takes attention away from the worrisome thoughts, stripping them of their power.

To do progressive relaxation, start with a muscle group. Tense and hold for five seconds. Exhale as you let your muscles deeply relax for 15 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.

You can do some deep breathing with it, which will slow your mind down even further.

Keep going until you’ve relaxed every muscle in your body.

10. Mindfulness Practice and Meditation

For countless centuries, sages from every known tradition have touted the invaluable benefits of meditating to relieve worry and anxiety.

Engaging in a meditative practice switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the adverse effects of cortisol, a stress hormone. This dramatically lowers your heart rate and relaxes your muscles.

Another way meditation works is because you’re replacing thoughts of worry with thoughts of peace. Over time, serenity will increasingly become your default mind setting, as anxiety fades into the background.

Before you know it, you’ll know how to stop worrying, and equanimity will be your new baseline.

Here are step by step instructions on how to meditate:

  • Find a place where you’re not going to be disturbed.
  • Sit on a comfortable chair with your back straight and your hands resting on your legs.
  • Close your eyes and slowly breathe in through your nose, filling your stomach completely.
  • Breathe out through your mouth.
  • Focus on one part of your breathing, such as the sensation of air rushing into your nose, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
  • If your mind starts to wander, return your focus to your breathing without a sliver of judgment.

That’s all you need to do!

Start out with five minutes a day and work your way up to ten or even fifteen.

A Buddhist monk who has learned how to stop worrying by meditating on a beautiful sky with beautiful birds.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is something else you can do to totally immerse yourself in the beauty that can only be found in the present moment. It’s different from meditation because while meditation is a formal seated practice, mindfulness can be done at any time.

Both disciplines help you surrender to the eternal “now,” where every worrisome thought you have will fade into insignificance. Using mindfulness will allow you to silence the constant internal dialogue that fills you with thoughts of worry and fear.

With mindfulness practice, you observe your worries like watching gossamer clouds on a lovely summer afternoon. Merely take a passing look at them, and then let the cosmic breezes take them far away from you.

Keep focusing on the present—the way your body feels, the rise and fall of your breath, and your emotional energy. If a particular thought sticks in your cranium, gently bring your mind back to the present.

Repeat your mindfulness practice every day, so you reinforce this mental habit to the point where it becomes second nature. It’s going to take substantial time and a daily routine to start reaping its powerful benefits.

You’ll find in the beginning that your mind keeps getting drawn to your worrisome thoughts.

Try not to get discouraged.

Another way to practice mindfulness is to close your eyes and feel the worry in your body without naming it.

When you do this, completely accept whatever sensations arise in your body. By doing this, you’re no longer feeding worry with your negative thoughts. You’ll be observing the emotion without slapping a label on it.

Then, you transmute all your the negativity into pure energy.

This is a wonderfully freeing thing to do!

11. Incantations

According to Anthony Robbins, incantations are phrases you repeat over and over with absolute conviction.

You use them when you want to change your life for the better. They’re affirmations on steroids, and to use them effectively, you’ll need to fully engage your mind, body, and emotions by shouting them out at the top of your lungs.

Here are some incantations to overcome the worry habit:

  • “I banish worry forever from the kingdom of my mind.”
  • “I no longer worry, because I have the ability to solve every problem in my life.”
  • “No matter how difficult or stressful circumstances get, I always radiate peace to everyone I meet.”
  • “It’s incredibly easy to keep worry out of my mind at all times.”

12. Hypnosis

Hypnosis is an effortless method for getting rid of the self-destructive habit of excessive worry. By using it regularly, you’ll significantly improve the quality of your life because you’ll stop thinking that the worst will happen all the time.

Forget all the mumbo jumbo you’ve seen in B-movies. It’s not something occult and mysterious, relegated to the sensationalism of a stage show. Researchers have conducted extensive research into its many benefits, proving beyond a shadow of any doubt that it does really work.

When you undergo hypnosis, you’ll slowly drift off into a pleasant state of relaxation that’s similar to the sleep state. However, you’ll be alert and much more susceptible to suggestions than you are in the waking state.

It’s like reprogramming a computer.

Your subconscious mind can be easily accessed in this state. This allows you to create new neural pathways that will enable you to acquire healthy new habits, including learning how to stop worrying.  Ultimately, your new behavior becomes wired into your brain and becomes a natural part of who you are.

A neural network deep within someone's brain as he learns how to stop worrying.

Mark Bowden Hypnotherapy Audio Sessions

If you want to harness the remarkable power of hypnosis so that you learn how to stop worrying, Mark Bowden has just the thing for you!

It’s called “Stop Thinking the Worst” and is one of the many hypnosis titles he offers. After only a short time listening to this life-changing audio recording, you’ll stop jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst.

When you buy this session, you’ll be given two convenient ways to listen:

  • Access through the app
  • MP3 files

You can either listen to them through your mobile device or on your computer.

So, sit back, relax, and start making the improvements to your life that’ll bring you lasting joy, greater peace of mind, and fulfillment beyond your wildest dreams!

 

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