4 simple strategies to stop worrying

by Marissa Håkansson

Worry is a habit that many of us experience, though it can be overcome with some simple strategies.

I’ve transformed my own relationship with worry. In truth, I used to be a constant worrier. And if I wasn’t worried about something, I’d start to worry about not worrying! It’s like I was always on the look out for something to go wrong.

At times, the impact of worry left me feeling utterly exhausted. I experienced headaches, stomach upsets and dizziness. At the time though, I didn’t link my worry to what I was experiencing in my body.

Nonetheless, I was determined to stop feeling anxious all the time. So I decided to seek out ways to let go of worry in my life. As I learned to do so, the physical symptoms also lessened.

Now, I feel at ease within my body and self. And when worrying thoughts do arise, I know what to do. I can apply the strategies that work and quickly restore a sense of balance within myself.

Just as worry is learned over time, the ability to feel at ease and calm can be learned too. With practice, your tendency to worry will naturally dissolve. You’ll start to feel at peace within yourself and with the world.

To help you overcome worry in your life, I have three strategies I’d like to share with you:

1. Recognise what you can and can’t control

Worrying is in no-way productive. No amount of worrying will change a situation. Ever. Reminding yourself of this fact, and consciously recognising what you can and can’t control, is empowering.

If there’s positive action you can take to change a situation that worries you, then take action. Immediately. If there’s no action you can take right now, then reassure yourself that there’s nothing you need to do until you receive more information.

You can create an experience that’s full of worry, or one that’s calm. It’s your choice. Remember, thinking is not a form of action!

2. Realise that a thought is just a thought

When you get consumed by worry, it’s helpful to remember that a thought is just a thought. A thought is not reality. So often we perceive our thoughts as reality, spending time predicting our future, or ruminating over the past.

Whether you worry or not, the world remains the same. Ask yourself: if you didn’t have this worrying thought, how would your experience be different?

Just because you have a thought, it doesn’t mean need to invest energy in that thought. See if you can you notice your thought without buying into it. Can you acknowledge your ‘worrying’ thought without allowing yourself to be consumed by it?

3. Be present to your whole body (not just your thinking)

When you’re worrying, you’re stuck in your mind. You’re in no way present with all of yourself. And know this: being present in your whole-body is a powerful anti-dote to worry.

See what happens if you bring your attention back to this moment. Bring awareness into your whole body. Notice your feelings, sensations, energy and connection to the world.

By being present in your whole body, rather than focusing your energy in your thoughts, you’ll naturally start to feel more at ease.

4. Know you are okay in this moment

When you are present, remind yourself that you are okay: all you need to focus on is this very moment.

Anytime you notice yourself worrying, use that as a reminder to come back into the moment. Be present. Connect with your body. Look around yourself and notice where you are. Take a moment to breathe and soak up the experience of now.

Recognise that the present moment is a certainty and that everything in this moment is okay.

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Selected photography by Heidi Pultar