As strange as it sounds, worrying can be good for you. When worries make you think ahead and solve a problem, they lead to something positive. But if you spend a lot of time imagining worst-case scenarios and telling yourself that every worry you have will become true, worries can start interfering with your daily life and affect your mental wellbeing. Fortunately, there are things you can do to break a worrying habit and adopt a more positive attitude.
Ever been told to stop worrying about something? Well, it doesn’t work – at least not for long. You may be able to distract yourself or suppress your worries for little while, but you can’t get rid of them for good. In fact, trying not to worry about something often makes the worry worse. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to manage your worries – you just need a different approach.
1) Keep a worry diary
A good way to come to terms with your worries is starting a worry diary and logging your worries. Write down what you’re worrying about and what triggered the worry, then look at whether you can do something about it. Set aside any worries that you can’t do anything about, and try to find a way to accept them – whether that means admitting your own limitations or accepting that some things simply are uncertain. For help with analysing and accepting your worries, downloadAXA PPP healthcare’s worry diary.
2) Set aside worry time
Another good way of dealing with your worries involves creating a worry period. Set aside ten minutes every day for worrying – during this time you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day is worry-free. If a worry comes into your head during the day, make a note of it in a worry list, but put off thinking about it until your worry time. Try to make your worry time the same time every day, but don’t choose a time just before going to bed. During that time, take a look at the worries on your worry list and reflect on them – you may find that some of your worries don’t seem as important any more.
3) Take the bull by the horns
Some of your most common worries are probably about things you don’t want to do or things that make you uncomfortable. Worrying can become a way to avoid situations that make you feel uneasy. But if you force yourself to do the things that make you uncomfortable, like public speaking or meeting new people, you’ll rely less on worry as a coping strategy. You’ll often find the ‘what ifs’ that you worry about are worse than what actually happens.
4) Focus on the present moment
Worriers often feel a sense of urgency about their worries: they need to find a solution straight away or something terrible will happen. To help you break free from these types of worries, you’ll need to bring your attention back to the present moment. Taking a deep breath, and using other relaxation exercises can help to take your mind off your worries. For help with relaxing, try some relaxation exercises.
5) Talk about your worries
Talking to someone you trust – like a friend, a family member or a counsellor – can help you get to the root of your worries. Understanding what causes your worries or what they’re related to can help to ease them. If you have an employee assistance programme, call them when you need someone to talk to – they will keep your call completely confidential.