- 9 Tips to Stop Worrying
- 1. Identify the problem.
- 2. Is it productive?
- 3. Don’t become a victim of Google-itis.
- 4. Face the facts.
- 5. Enact the boredom technique.
- 6. Set aside worry time.
- 7. Contemplate the outcomes.
- 8. Don’t forget to be self-aware.
- 9. Laugh.
- 10 Things You Must Give Up to Get Yourself Back on Track
- Closing Thoughts
- Your turn…
- 31 Simple Ways to Free Your Mind Immediately
- 1. Write Your Goals
- 2. Beat Procrastination
- 3. Celebrate Small Wins
- 4. Practice Gratitude
- 5. Be Optimistic
- 6. Don’t Dwell on the Past
- 7. Face your Fears
- 8. Visualize your Success
- 9. Find Inspiration
- 10. Enjoy Downtime
- 11. Meditate Regularly
- The Bottom Line
- More Tips About Staying Motivated
- 6 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything
- Destructive thought patterns
- How to stop overthinking
- 1. Notice when you're stuck in your head
- 2. Keep the focus on problem-solving
- 3. Challenge your thoughts
- 4. Schedule time for reflection
- 5. Learn mindfulness skills
- 6. Change the channel
- Train your brain
- How to Stop Worrying: 9 Simple Habits
- Here’s the next step…
- 9 Ways to Get Rid of Anxiety in 5 Minutes or Less
- 1. Stand up straight
- 2. Play the 5-5-5 game
- 3. Sniff lavender oil
- 4. Watch a funny video
- 5. Go for a brisk walk
- 6. Accept your anxiety
- 7. Listen to the most relaxing song in the world
- 8. Re-label what's happening
- 9. Do something
9 Tips to Stop Worrying
We all worry… some more than others. A typical, stress-free morning commute for you might be a tense drive for someone else. A routine work presentation you don’t give a second thought might keep someone else awake for several nights. For many, worry is a chronic problem.
Related: 7 Motivational Quotes to Help You Face Your Fears (Because Worry Never Fixes Anything)
Robert Leahy, Ph.D., author of The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You, shares his tips and tricks for managing your worry.
1. Identify the problem.
Leahy says remember that worry is normal—38 percent of people say they worry every day. It becomes a problem when it interferes with your daily life; when you have trouble sleeping or concentrating, feel muscle tension or experience indigestion.
“Research actually shows people who start out being chronic worriers end up depressed,” he says.
“If you’re constantly focusing on negative things that could happen, you can’t really enjoy your life at the current moment because you’re worried about the future.”
2. Is it productive?
“Productive worry leads to actions that will solve the problem or make significant progress today,” Leahy says.
For example, if you have an upcoming presentation, productive worry could be reviewing your PowerPoint or backing up your presentation on a flash drive.
Unproductive worry would be thinking, What if the projector fails? or What if the people in the audience hate me? To get a grip on unproductive worry, you must be comfortable accepting uncertainty.
3. Don’t become a victim of Google-itis.
If you’re a chronic worrier, you might want to reduce the amount of time you spend on Google. Leahy says most people only use Google when they’re looking for certainty, which they probably won’t find. Keep your search to a minimum, especially if your worries are health-related.
4. Face the facts.
Most of our worries are unfounded. In fact, when researchers followed college students over the course of a year, they discovered 85 percent of the things students worried about had a positive or neutral outcome.
For the things that turned out to have a negative outcome, 78 percent of people say they handled the situation well. Try keeping track of your worry predictions, too.
If 85 100 of your predictions don’t come true and you’re pretty good at solving problems when they do happen, that’s an indicator you should relax.
Related: What Agoraphobia Taught Me About Fear Versus Facts
5. Enact the boredom technique.
“The boredom technique is a lot of fun,” Leahy says. Repeat your worried thought for 10 minutes a day (very slowly) until the thought becomes so boring it’s hard for you to pay attention to it. “It’s a very powerful technique,” he says.
“People think Oh my god, that’s amazing. The thought I was so afraid of I now think is so boring I can hardly stay awake.” It’s essentially an exposure technique, much someone afraid of an elevator would go up and down 50 times.
“The boredom technique is very powerful and counterintuitive in a way.”
6. Set aside worry time.
If you’re the type of person who has worried thoughts enter your mind throughout the day, you should try this tactic. Set aside 20 minutes a day to sit down with your worries. If you have a preoccupation at 10 a.m.
and your worry time is at 3 p.m., write it down and put it aside until that time. “I find every patient I’ve given this assignment to is able to do it to some extent,” Leahy says. “The power of the worry dissipates over time.
7. Contemplate the outcomes.
When all else fails, think about the worry in simple terms. Leahy suggests pondering the worst possible, best possible and most ly outcomes. “People who worry equate uncertainty with a bad outcome,” Leahy says. Once you realize that even the worst possible outcome is something you can handle, you might feel more at ease.
8. Don’t forget to be self-aware.
Chronic worry can strain relationships. “If somebody is a chronic worrier, he may be seeking out reassurance from his partner or friends,” Leahy says. “While this can be helpful and supportive initially, over a period of time it can lead to conflicts.
” If you’re constantly seeking out reassurance from others that doesn’t give you the perfect solution, that can lead to interpersonal issues. “The other thing is that if you’re constantly worried and just ruminating out loud with people, it becomes a bummer.
Leahy has one very simple tactic: laugh. “When you’re laughing, you’re not worried, which is a good thing to keep in mind.” He nicknames this “silliness therapy” and says he uses it a lot, too.
Before you worry about being a chronic worrier (it’s a vicious cycle!), remember this: There is often a silver lining to worrying: “A lot of people who worry are very good at empathy,” Leahy says. “Because you’re really good at empathy, you’re often very concerned about what other people think and feel.”
Related: 3 Tips for Overcoming Your Worried Brain
10 Things You Must Give Up to Get Yourself Back on Track
If you want to grow and move on to better things, you have to give up the things that hold you back.
Last night, Marc and I received a new thank you email from a longtime reader and coaching client named Kevin (we’re writing about him today with his consent).
He said our book and life coaching sessions helped him and his wife Laura maintain a positive, intentional mindset as they struggled and grew through one of the most difficult periods of their lives.
Certain sections of his email nearly moved me to tears:
“As you know, after injuring my back, losing my job because of it, being evicted from our apartment, moving in with Laura’s parents, nursing my five-year-old through a nearly fatal b strep throat, I was stuck in a tragic rut for far too long.
And I was sitting on the front porch of my in-law’s house feeling sorry for myself, yet again, when my old college buddy called me crying and said, ‘Mel-Mel-Melissa, my baby girl, just died in a car wreck.’ And suddenly I felt the lucky one.
Kevin then went on to say, “It was the shock of my friend’s tragic loss that motivated me to review four pages of notes I had previously taken from both your book and our most recent coaching sessions. And this time your wisdom sunk in! Suddenly a light bulb illuminated in my mind – and it literally changed my entire outlook from negative to positive.
I suddenly realized there were people who needed me to get back up, and infinite reasons and ways to do my very best with what I had. So I started giving up all the negative things I was thinking and doing that had been holding me back; and then I took a bold step forward, and another, and another.
And it’s been almost a year now, and I’m happy to say you were right!”
If you can relate to Kevin’s situation in any way, and you’re ready to move forward, I want to remind you that TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life. The road ahead is wide open. You CAN get yourself back on track!
But first, you have to…
- Give up pretending that you have to be who you used to be. – When times get tough, our worst battle is often between what we remember and what we presently feel. Thus, one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and struggle harder or when to take your memories and move on. Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are today.
- Give up berating yourself for everything you aren’t. – Being kind to yourself in thoughts, words and actions is as important as being kind to others. Extend yourself this courtesy. Love yourself – your real self. Work through your fears (dive deep), your insecurities (speak honestly and loudly), and your anger (scream into the pillow – not into the mirror, nor the people you care about; they don’t deserve it.) Instead of hurting yourself by hiding from your problems, help yourself grow beyond them. That’s what self-care is all about. It’s about facing the inner issues that make you believe that you are less than you are. It’s learning to see that you are already beautiful. Not because you’re blind to your shortcomings, but because you know they have to be there to balance out your strengths. (Read A Return to Love.)
- Give up regretting, and holding on to, what happened in the past. – When you stay stuck in regret of the life you think you should have had, you end up missing the beauty of what you do have. Not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realize they do, perfectly. So thank the things that didn’t work out, because they just made room for the things that will. And thank the ones who walked away from you, because they just made room for the ones who won’t. As they say, every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.
- Give up getting caught up in the negativity surrounding you. – To be positive in negative times is not just foolish optimism. It is the fact that human history is a history not only of tragedy, but also of success, sacrifice, courage, kindness, and growth. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine how well we live. If we look only for the worst, it destroys our capacity to do our best work. If we remember those times and places – and there are many – in which people have behaved magnificently, and things have gone well, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to sit around and wait for some grandiose and perfect future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live right now as we think we should live, in defiance of all the negativity around us, is in itself an amazing victory.
- Give up thinking that everyone else has it so much easier than you. – When times get really tough, remember this simple truth: Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. And when you’re struggling with something that’s important to you, and you feel your life isn’t fair, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.
- Give up wanting to be where others are in life. – Stop comparing where you’re at with where everybody else is. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find happiness. It just fuels feelings of inadequacy and shame, and ultimately keeps you stuck. The truth is, there is no one correct path in life. A path that’s right for someone else won’t necessarily be a path that’s right for you. And that’s OK. Your journey isn’t right or wrong, or good or bad – it’s just different. Your life isn’t meant to look exactly anyone else’s because you aren’t exactly anyone else. You’re a person all your own with a unique set of goals, obstacles, dreams, and needs. So stop comparing and start living. You may not always end up where you intend to go, but you will eventually arrive precisely where you need to be. Trust that you are in the right place at the right time, right now. And trust yourself to make the best of it. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- Give up letting the judgments of strangers control you. – People know your name, not your story. They’ve heard what you’ve done, but don’t understand what you’ve been through. So take their opinions of you with a grain of salt. In the end, it’s not what others think, it’s what you think about yourself that counts. Sometimes you have to do exactly what’s right for you and your life, without giving a darn what your life looks to everyone who doesn’t even know you.
- Give up letting toxic relationships bring you down on a daily basis. – Not all toxic relationships are agonizing and uncaring on purpose. Some of them involve people who care about you – people who have good intentions, but are toxic because their needs and way of existing in the world force you to compromise yourself and your happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people to be spending time with every day. And as hard as it is, we have to distance ourselves enough to give ourselves space to live. You simply can’t ruin yourself on a daily basis for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well-being a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create some healthy space for yourself. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Give up over-thinking and worrying about everything. – When your fears and anxieties have you looking too deep into things, it creates problems – it doesn’t fix them. If you think and you think and you think, you will think yourself right happiness a thousand times over, and never once into it. Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace and potential. And life is too short for that.
- Give up believing you aren’t strong enough to take another step forward. – It’s always possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems. In time, the grief (the lessons) may not go away completely, but after awhile it’s not so overwhelming. So breathe… You’re going to be OK. Remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and restless and afraid, and you’ve survived. Take another breath and know that you can survive this time too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and draining, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon they’re going to fade, and when they do you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience.
I want to riff on the final point just a bit more…
Because the truth is, you have to KNOW that YOU ARE strong enough to take another step forward, every single day. Feeling otherwise is just that – a feeling, not a fact!
So if you only take one point away from this post, let it be this:
The first and worst place we lose our footing is in our own heads. If you think it’s permanent, then it’s permanent. If you think you’re broken, then you are.
If you think you’ve reached your limits, then you have. If you think you’ll never heal and grow, then you won’t. You have to change your mind.
You need to see everything that’s holding you back, every obstacle, and every limitation as only temporary.
Because that’s the truth.
What are you holding on to right now that’s holding you back? Is there something you need to let go of, or give up, before you can move forward again? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights?
Photo by: Hannah Webster
31 Simple Ways to Free Your Mind Immediately
Last Updated on March 25, 2020
How many times have you not achieved your goals and let yourself down due to your lack of motivation? When you’re not wallowing in sadness and self-pity, you are too busy procrastinating till you can’t anymore and before you know it, you are part of vicious cycle of anxiety and stress.
Whether it’s losing weight or bringing your business to fruition – motivation is essential for growth and success in every sphere of our lives.
That said, it is not easy staying motivated. In order to constantly stay motivated, you need to take ownership of your life and consciously make efforts in that direction.
Well, it’s never too late to take matters in your hands and change the course of your life. Here are 11 effective ways to crush your lack of motivation and always stay motivated:
1. Write Your Goals
The power of writing goals down has always been underestimated. Why write when you can remember, right? Wrong.
Our thoughts are all over the place and the first step to achieve your goals is to organize your thoughts. So, write your goals down, however big or small they might be. Make them as specific as possible and assign deadlines to each of them.
As you write them down and revisit them regularly, they get further drilled in your head, taking you closer to your goals. Doing this small exercise helps you to remain focused, motivated and lets you track your progress with ease.
Start today – take to your laptop or a diary and get down to writing what you wish to achieve in life.
2. Beat Procrastination
Your lack of motivation and procrastination go hand in hand. Every time you procrastinate, your motivation levels take a greater hit. The only way to bring an end to this loop is to stop procrastinating.
Next time you find yourself putting off something for ‘later’, stop and assess the reasons behind it. Get to the root of the cause and eliminate it in order to overcome this poor habit of procrastinating which is sabotaging your life and mental health.
Take a look at this guide and learn how to beat procrastination:
What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)
When you finally overcome procrastination, you will realize the positive impact it has on your mood and motivation levels.
3. Celebrate Small Wins
In the quest to achieve the bigger goals in life, we often forget to celebrate the smaller wins along the way. An achievement is an achievement – be it big or small, it deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Finished a project on time? Reward yourself. Managed to run on the treadmill for a good one hour? Pat yourself on the back. Found time to meditate? Celebrate it.
It is these small achievements that reinstate that we are on the right path and take us one step closer to the bigger goals.
So, get into the habit of recognizing and appreciating small wins. You will be surprised to see how this practice helps you stay motivated.
4. Practice Gratitude
It’s easier to whine about what we don’t have rather than counting our blessings. Isn’t it?
Making gratefulness a part of your life is a very important step to retain high motivational levels. It revitalizes our spirits and renews our enthusiasm for life.
So, how do you practice gratitude? For starters, keep a gratitude journal to jot down what you are grateful for, express your gratitude to people you love and spread positivity wherever you go. If you need some inspiration to be thankful for, here it is:
60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life
By doing so, you begin to focus more on what you have rather than what you don’t and that is a great start to stay motivated.
5. Be Optimistic
Life is not always hunky dory. There will be bad days when things aren’t going in your favor, when you feel lost and all you want to do is give up.
At such times, instead of letting negativity take over your life, adopt an optimistic approach to life. Quit overthinking, ask the right questions and focus on finding solutions.
Yes, there will be hurdles along the way but if you hang on to positive affirmations and hopes, the journey will be a lot smoother. So, with every passing day, sow the seeds of positivity and you are sure to build a positive environment around you.
6. Don’t Dwell on the Past
A lot of times, our lack of motivation stems from the habit of dwelling on the past. This gives rise to fear and regrets, preventing us from making progress in the present day.
Dwelling on the past is nothing but a waste of time. Understand that the past is long gone, and you cannot do anything to change that.
What you can do is make your present day worthwhile. Instead of looking back and having regrets, learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself and move on.
So, the next time you find your mind wandering off to the past, be determined to change the way you think and consciously concentrate on living in the present. This guide can help you:
10 Simple Steps To Let Go Of The Past
7. Face your Fears
You can never find motivation where there is fear. Identify the fear that is pulling you back and tackle it.
If you don’t face your fear head on, you cannot expect to conquer it and renew your motivation.
Ask yourself: What is stopping you? What are you scared of?
Once you accept your fear, you can work on an action plan and think of solutions to overcome it. This article will give you some effective tips on conquering your fears:
How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)
Seek external help if required but don’t choose to turn a blind eye over your fears – it will only aggravate matters.
8. Visualize your Success
You must have heard the famous quote, ‘see it to believe it’. That is exactly what visualization is about.
One of the most effective self-motivation techniques, visualizing the process to your desired outcome helps you move in a positive direction and achieve your goal.
Close your eyes and focus all your energies on the minutest of details that will take you where you want to reach. Doing this exercise everyday inspires you to keep going and not lose hope. The vision of attaining success will drive you to do better while instilling belief and confidence.
9. Find Inspiration
Can’t seem to find inspiration inwards? Don’t panic. There are plenty of external sources to gain inspiration from.
From motivational books and quotes to speeches, films and apps – it is a good idea to take help from motivational material to rekindle your spirits and regain your motivation.
Everyone is wired differently. For instance, a self-help book might work for your friend, but it might do nothing to move you. So, find what inspires you and turn to it when you are in desperate need for motivation.
Finding inspiration externally fills you with hope and sometimes that is all you need.
10. Enjoy Downtime
You are clearly exhausted with all the running you’re doing in life. So much, that you don’t even have time to stop and think what’s causing you so much unhappiness. All you know is that you are lacking motivation and everyday seems to have become a struggle.
Now, that’s certainly not how you should live the rest of your life.
You need to schedule downtime for yourself, relax and give your mind and body some rest. Take a vacation, indulge in hobbies, meet some friends, put your hair down and stop with all the overthinking. It is important to do things that make you happy in order to think clearly and stay motivated.
11. Meditate Regularly
Meditation lets you take control of your mind. It improves focus and concentration while helping you relax.
Whenever you have had a tough day or find your thoughts going places, the best way to calm yourself down is by closing your eyes and meditating. It helps you to remove all the unnecessary frills in life and keeps you on the right track.
Include meditation in your daily schedule and you are sure to see an improvement in your productivity and motivation.
The Bottom Line
Practicing these simple exercises isn’t the tough part, what’s tough is religiously doing them every day.
However, don’t expect to get rid of your lack of motivation overnight. There will still be days when you will be low on energy but by making these conscious efforts to stay motivated, you are sure to see a vast change in your perspective and your response to bad days.
So, start today and be committed to making a positive change in your life.
More Tips About Staying Motivated
Featured photo credit: Sonnie Hiles via unsplash.com
6 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything
While everyone overthinks situations once in a while, some people are plagued with a constant barrage of thoughts all the time. Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make, and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day.
Thinking too much about something often involves more than words–overthinkers conjure up disastrous images too. Their minds resemble a movie where they imagine their car going off the road or they replay distressing events over and over again.
Thinking too much prevents them from getting anything done. And it wreaks havoc on their mood.
Destructive thought patterns
Overthinking often involves two destructive thought patterns–ruminating and incessant worrying.
Ruminating involves dwelling on the past. Thoughts may include things :
- I shouldn't have said those things at the meeting yesterday. Everyone must think I'm an idiot.
- I should have stayed at my last job. I would be happier than I am now.
- My parents didn't teach me how to be confident. My insecurities have always held me back.
Persistent worrying involves negative–often catastrophic–predictions about the future. Thoughts may include things :
- I'm going to embarrass myself tomorrow when I give that presentation. I know I'm going to forget everything I'm supposed to say.
- Everyone else will get promoted before me.
- I know we won't ever have enough money to retire. We'll be too sick to work and we'll run money.
How to stop overthinking
all habits, changing your destructive thought patterns can be a challenge. But with consistent practice, you can train your brain to think differently. Here are six ways to stop overthinking everything:
1. Notice when you're stuck in your head
Overthinking can become such a habit that you don't even recognize when you're doing it. Start paying attention to the way you think so you can become aware of the problem.
When you're replaying events in your mind over and over, or worrying about things you can't control, acknowledge that your thoughts aren't productive. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action.
2. Keep the focus on problem-solving
Dwelling on your problems isn't helpful–but looking for solutions is. If it's something you have some control over, consider how you can prevent the problem or challenge yourself to identify five potential solutions.
If it's something you have no control over– a natural disaster–think about the strategies you can use to cope with it. Focus on the things you can control, your attitude and effort.
3. Challenge your thoughts
It's easy to get carried away with negative thoughts. So before you conclude that calling in sick is going to get you fired, or that forgetting one deadline will cause you to become homeless, acknowledge that your thoughts may be exaggeratedly negative.
Remember that your emotions will interfere with your ability to look at situations objectively. Take a step back and look at the evidence. What evidence do you have that your thought is true? What evidence do you have that your thought isn't true?
4. Schedule time for reflection
Stewing on your problems for long periods of time isn't productive, but brief reflection can be helpful. Thinking about how you could do things differently or recognizing potential pitfalls to your plan, could help you perform better in the future.
Incorporate 20 minutes of “thinking time” into your daily schedule. During that time period let yourself worry, ruminate, or mull over whatever you want.
When your time is up, move onto something else. And when you start overthinking things outside of your scheduled thinking time, simply remind yourself that you'll need to wait until your “thinking time” to address those issues in your mind.
5. Learn mindfulness skills
It's impossible to rehash yesterday or worry about tomorrow when you're living in the present. Mindfulness will help you become more aware of the here and now.
Just any other skill, mindfulness takes practice, but over time, it can decrease overthinking. There are classes, books, apps, courses, and videos available to help you learn mindfulness skills.
6. Change the channel
Telling yourself to stop thinking about something will backfire. The more you try to prevent a thought from entering your brain, the more ly it is to keep popping up.
Change the channel in your brain by changing your activity. Exercise, engage in conversation on a completely different subject, or work on a project that distracts you. Doing something different will put an end to the barrage of negative thoughts.
Train your brain
Paying attention to the way you think can help you become more aware of your bad mental habits. With practice, you can train your brain to think differently. Over time, building healthier habits will help you build the mental muscle you need to become mentally stronger.
Published on: Apr 24, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
How to Stop Worrying: 9 Simple Habits
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
It starts with a nagging thought.
That creates another few thoughts.
And before you know it there is a storm brewing in your mind, making you think irrationally and zapping your mental and physical energy.
Your old friend is back, creating chaos within.
I am no stranger to it either and to the powerful negative effects it can have on life and the happiness in it.
But in the last decade I have found several habits that have helped me to greatly decrease my worrying and to more easily handle such thoughts when they pop up.
Bonus: Download a free step-by-step checklist that will show you how to stop worrying so much (it's easy to save as a PDF or print out for whenever you need it during your day or week).
Update 2016: I have now created a 7-week step-by-step course called Stop Worrying Today. Click here to learn more about it.
1. Most of things you worry about have never happened.
I love this quote by Winston Churchill:
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
I have found it to be very true in my own life.
So when you feel worries starting to pop up ask yourself this:
How many of the things I feared would happen in my life did actually happen?
If you are anything me then the answer will be: very few. And the very few ones that actually happened were mostly not as painful or terrible as I had expected.
Worries are most often just monsters you build in your own mind.
I find that asking myself this question regularly and reminding myself of how little of the worries that actually came to life makes easier and easier to stay calm and to stop a worried thought before it becomes a big snowball of negativity.
2. Avoid getting lost in vague fears.
When fears feel vague in your mind, when you lack clarity then it is very easy to get lost in exaggerated worries and disaster scenarios.
So find clarity in a worry-inducing situation by asking yourself:
Honestly and realistically, what is the worst that could happen?
When I have answered that question then I follow it up with spending a bit of time on figuring out what I can do about it if that pretty unly thing happens.
In my experience, the worst that could realistically happens is usually not as scary as what my mind could make up when it is running wild with vague fears.
Spending a few minutes on finding clarity in this way can save you whole lot of time, energy and suffering.
3. Don’t try to guess what is on someone’s mind.
Trying to read someone’s mind usually doesn’t work too well at all. Instead, it can very easily lead to creating an exaggerated and even disastrous scenario in your mind.
So choose a way that is less ly to lead to worries and misunderstandings.
Communicate and ask what you want to ask.
By doing so you’ll promote openness in your relationship and it will ly be happier as you avoid many unnecessary conflicts and negativity.
4. Say stop in a situation where you know you cannot think straight.
From time to time when I am hungry or when I am lying in bed and are about to go to sleep I can become mentally vulnerable. And so worries can more easily start buzzing around in my head.
In the past this often lead to many minutes of time that where no fun.
These days I have become better at catching such thoughts quickly and to say to myself:
No, no, we are not going to think about this now.
I then follow that up with saying this to myself:
I will think this situation or issue through at a time when I know that my mind will work much better.
when I have eaten. Or in the morning when I have gotten my sleep.
It takes some practice to apply this one consistently and effectively but it also makes a big difference in my life.
5. Remember, people don’t think about you and what you do as much as you may think.
They have their hands full with thinking about what other people think of them. And with thinking about what is closest to their hearts their children, pets, a partner or the job or school.
So don’t get lost in worries about what people may think or say if you do something. Don’t let such thoughts hold you back or down in life.
6. Work out.
Few things work so well and consistently as working out to release inner tensions and to move a headspace that is extra vulnerable to worries.
I also find that working out – especially with free weights – makes me feel more decisive and focused.
So even though working out helps me to build a stronger body my main motivation to keep doing it is for the wonderful and predictable mental benefits.
7. Let your worry out into the light.
This is one of my favorites. Because it tends to work so well.
By letting your “big” worry out into the light and talking about it with someone close to you it becomes a whole lot easier to see the situation or issue for what it really is.
Just venting for a few minutes can make a big difference and after a while you may start to wonder what you were so worried about in the first place.
Sometimes the other person may only have to listen as you work through the situation yourself out loud.
At other times it can be very helpful to let the other person ground you and help you find a more practical and useful perspective on the situation at hand.
If you do not have anyone to talk to at the moment about the worry bouncing around in your mind then let it out by writing about it.
Just getting it your head and reasoning about with yourself either on paper or in a journal on your computer – or even your own blog that's just for your eyes or anonymous – can help you to calm down and find clarity.
8. Spend more time in the present moment.
When you spend too much time reliving the past in your mind then it easy to start feeding your worries about the future.
When you spend too much time in the future then is also easy to get swept away by disaster scenarios.
So focus on spending more of your time and attention in the present moment.
Two of my favorite ways to reconnect with what is happening right now:
- Slow down. Do whatever you are doing right now but do it slower. Move, talk, eat or ride your bicycle slower. By doing so you’ll become more aware of what is happening all around you right now.
- Disrupt and reconnect. If you feel you are starting to worry then disrupt that thought by shouting this to yourself in your mind: STOP! Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just one or two minutes to focus to 100% on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, see it, smell it, hear it and sense it on your skin.
9. Refocus on the small step you can take to move forward.
To move out the worried headspace I find it really, really helpful to just start moving and taking action to start solving or improving whatever I am concerned about.
So I ask myself:
What is one small step I can take right now to start improving this situation I am in?
Then I focus on just taking that small step forward. After that I find another small step and I take that one too.
Here’s the next step…
Now, you may think to yourself:
“This is really helpful information. But what’s the easiest way to put this into practice and actually make a real change with my worrying?”.
Well, I’ve got something special for you…
A free step-by-step checklist that includes all the steps in this article… save it or print it out so you have it for the next time when the worries starts growing again. Download it now by entering your email below.
Image at the start of the article by Amparo Torres O. (license).
9 Ways to Get Rid of Anxiety in 5 Minutes or Less
Around 40 million people in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder, which can range from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), defined as “intense worrying you can't control” to panic attacks, complete with heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, and/or sweating.
Whether you experience is of mild or extreme anxiety, there are steps you can take immediately to calm down and self-soothe. Here are a few of the best:
1. Stand up straight
According to Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety, “When we are anxious, we protect our upper body — where our heart and lungs are located — by hunching over.”
For immediate relief from anxiety, stand up, pull your shoulders back, plant your feet evenly and widely apart, and open your chest. Then breathe deeply.
This posture, combined with deep breathing, helps your body remember that it's not in danger right now, and that it is in control (not helpless). If you can't stand up (i.e.
you're in your car), just pull your shoulders back and open up your chest. The most important thing is to stop hunching and breathe deeply.
2. Play the 5-5-5 game
When you're anxious, you're often caught in a (negative) thought loop. Play this to get back into your body and stop anxiety fast:
Look around and name 5 things you can see.
List 5 sounds you can hear.
Move 5 parts of your body you can feel (i.e. rotate your ankle, wiggle your ears, nod your head up and down).
It might sound silly, but this works.
3. Sniff lavender oil
Lavender oil has a lot of healing properties. It promotes a feeling of calm and supports deep, restful sleep. It can even help with headaches.
To help reduce anxiety, keep a bottle of lavender oil at your desk (or in purse if you have one). Breathe it in and/or massage it into your temples when you need a boost of peace. Bonus points for combining the sniffing with deep, even breaths.
4. Watch a funny video
Yes, really. Watching a clip of your favorite comedian or blooper reel will help you stop feeling anxious fast. Why? Because you can't laugh and stay anxious at the same time, physiologically.
Your body relaxes after a b laughter in a way that gets rid of anxiety.
Plus, according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter brings in oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your heart and lungs, and spikes your endorphins.
5. Go for a brisk walk
Exercise is a long-proven way to lower anxiety. In addition to boosting your level of feel-good neurotransmitters, a brisk walk clears your mind and gets you breathing more deeply again–and anxiety is intimately linked to shallow breathing.
Studies also show that people who exercise vigorously on a regular basis are 25 percent less ly to develop an anxiety disorder.
6. Accept your anxiety
This may sound counterintuitive, but Chansky says accepting your anxiety (instead of feeling ashamed or frustrated by it) will actually help you feel less anxious.
It doesn't matter whether you inherited your anxiety from your family or your lifestyle, or both.
It's here now, and acknowledging that instead of fighting it frees you up to learn how to manage it. Accepting it doesn't mean giving up, either.
It means you stop spending energy berating yourself for being anxious and instead learn what works for you when it comes to self-soothing.
7. Listen to the most relaxing song in the world
This song was engineered specifically to calm your nervous system. It was found to reduce anxiety by up to 65 percent. Here is a loop of it playing on repeat.
8. Re-label what's happening
If you're having a panic attack and your heart is racing, it's easy to believe something , “I'm going to die.” Instead of buying into this inaccurate thought, re-label it. Remind yourself: “This is a panic attack. I've had them before and they don't actually kill me; they pass. This will also pass, and there's nothing I need to do.”
In actuality, panic attacks are an activation of the body's fight-or-flight response, which doesn't kill you–it keeps you alive.
9. Do something
Do anything. Clear a few things off your desk. Walk over to the kitchenette and get yourself a glass of water. Walk outside and find a flower to smell–it doesn't matter. Doing an action interrupts your thought pattern, which is often where anxiety starts.
When it comes to stopping anxiety, self-soothing is actually a profound act of self-love.
Published on: Aug 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.