9 Steps to End Chronic Worrying
Experts explain how to reduce excessive worrying that can have mental and physical effects.
9 Worry-Busting Steps continued...
Worriers tend to avoid new things and situations that make them
uncomfortable, such as parties or public speaking engagements. The preemptive
worry helps them avoid discomfort, but if you force yourself to do the very
things that make you uncomfortable, you will rely less on worry as a
No 6. Stop the clock. "Worried people often have a sense of
urgency," Leahy says. "They think, 'I need the answer right now and if
I don't get it then something terrible will happen.'" Look at the
advantages and disadvantages of demanding such urgency. "Rather than focus
on the sense of urgency, instead focus on what you observe right now,"
"Ask yourself, 'What can I do in the present moment to make my life more
pleasant or meaningful?'" he says. "You can either focus your mind on
getting an answer right now or focus on improving the moment." The latter
is the better strategy. Take a deep breath, read, or listen to music to stop
the clock and curtail your anxiety.
No 7. Remember that it's never as bad as you think it will be.
Anxiety or worry is all about anticipation. The 'what ifs' are always way worse
than how you feel when something actually happens. "Worriers tend to worry
about things that even if they happen, they can handle it," Leahy says.
"Worriers are actually good at handling real problems."
No 8. Cry out loud. "The emotional part of the brain -- the
amygdala -- is suppressed when you worry," Leahy explains. "The emotion
kicks in later with gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue or rapid heart rate. Use your
emotions; don't try to get rid of them because when you are crying or angry,
you are not worried."
No 9. Talk about it. Beside the cognitive therapy techniques
mentioned above -- which can help change troublesome behaviors -- talk therapy
can also help chronic worriers worry less by getting to the root of their
issues. Often talk therapy and cognitive behavior therapy can work together,
"Each individual needs to understand what causes their anxiety or what
it is related to," she says. "If you dig deep enough and go back to the
early bases, it goes away because you have gotten to its roots."