Do you find yourself over worrying about the future? Or things that happened in the past that you have no control over today? You may find yourself worrying about something you said, what others think, or possibly your work to do list. This can lead to a constant feeling of self doubt, and the need to be “perfect” all the time. As a result you may become overly critical of yourself and your actions. Many people that struggle with over worrying and perfectionism tend to feel stuck, overwhelmed and ultimately “not good enough.”
Over worrying can take over your ability to enjoy your day and connect with the people you love the most. You want to be able to cherish time with your family and friends but over worrying about the smallest of details can impede this mission. The truth is that most people struggle with over worrying at some point in their lives (or at many points…). But when over worrying sticks around too long it truly can be unbearable.
Maybe your over worrying looks like this:
You are preparing dinner for you and your family and you can’t slow down your mind. You are worried about what you told your friend earlier and whether you “said it right.” Concerns about if you hurt her feelings are rushing in. Your mind then rushes to worrying about a project you have for work and you know you have a ton left to do. You start going down the list of all that needs to get done and you get a rush of dread and incoming negative thoughts about it. You then start to worry about your daughter’s project that is due. Your mind then cycles back to the first worry. And round and round again.
Regardless of the type of worries you have you know that it really takes you away from being in the moment and enjoying your life. You really want to reduce the worries you have and allow your mind to calm down and enjoy life. You’ve likely tried many things to combat the over worrying like distracting yourself, telling it to go away (or some variation of this), or talking to a friend. Nothing really seems to help or maybe it helps only in the short term but doesn’t stick.
In reading these tips to stop over worrying keep in mind that consistency is key. It’s not about making a change for a day or a week. We need to make a consistent change in our lives to see the true benefit. You likely have developed a habit of over worrying and being hard on yourself and in order to make a shift you have to retrain your brain.
5 tips to stop over worrying
Tip One: Include Self-Care as part of your daily routine
Over worry is much more likely to happen when you don’t take care of yourself. Self-care allows you to create more space in your mind to talk through the worries as they arise. When your mind is clearer you are better able to come up with real ways to deal with the anxiety rather than feeding into it. You are also sending an internal message of “I matter.” When you send these messages internally you feel you have more control over the worries.
Self-care can look differently to different people. An important thing to consider is that the self care practice is something that helps you be present rather than escape. Some examples include going for a walk, meditating, journaling, taking a bath and spending time with a loved one. Some of these may be a bit outside your comfort zone, but that’s a good thing! Allowing yourself to do things differently can help you see that you have the ability to pivot and get uncomfortable. Essentially this helps you teach anxiety and over worry that you’ve got things handled.
Life can take over with daily tasks and busy schedules so self-care needs to be something that is scheduled just like anything else. In fact, your self care should be starred and be a priority on your list. The truth is that when you make self-care a priority in your daily routine everything else becomes more manageable and less stressful.
Tip Two: Use a mantra to help you in the moment
A mantra is something you can say to yourself that will help reorient and reassure you. For example, you can say to yourself “In this moment everything is fine and I’m good” or “I know that I can trust myself even in hard moments.” A mantra that you can embrace and repeat to yourself can be a very powerful tool. What is something you can say to yourself in the moment when you are over worrying?
Tip Three: Identify and repeat your “why” to stop over worrying
Why do you want to stop over worrying? If the answer is “I just don’t like it” or “I’m sick of it” that may not be enough of a WHY. Understanding your why is extremely powerful as you need to keep it at the forefront as you work on helping yourself through the worry. Working through the worry and anxiety is hard and thus understanding why you are doing it can give you the motivation to move forward.
What is the vision you have for yourself? What would it look and feel like to have a much clearer, more present mind? Having a guiding post as to where you are going and what you want it to look can make a big difference. For example, your why may be “I want to live a life where I am present and connected with my kids.” You can repeat this to yourself as you are continually working through the worrying thoughts and stress.
Tip Four: Schedule worry time
One method to help with over worrying is to actually schedule time to worry. Rather than letting worries come in and out whenever they please you can actually say to it “it’s not time yet.” Have a few times set in your schedule per day to worry. Allow all the “what if’s” to enter in and out and let your mind go. There is something about knowing that you have this time that can be really helpful for you. Better yet, journal down everything that comes up during worry time. This way you know it’s on paper and you can go back to it if you’d like.
Tip Five: Answer the “what if’s”
You likely have so many what if’s coming in and out of your mind. What if I don’t finish the project? What if my boss thinks I did a bad job? When you have so many of these questions entering your mind without resolution this can bring about a lot of anxiety. Try to actually answer these questions. What if it does happen? Then what… Will it be that bad? Can you get through it? How will you get through it? Answering the what if’s may be anxiety provoking at first but ultimately it can teach you that you have more internal resources than you give yourself credit for.
It is Possible to Worry Less
When you get stuck in a cycle of over worrying it can truly impact your day and all parts of your life. Making sure to include self care as part of your daily practice, using a mantra to help you in the moment, knowing your “why”, scheduling worry time, and answering the “what if’s” are all strong ways to help you stop over worrying.
Begin Counseling for Over-Worrying in Missouri
Lastly, and most importantly remember help is out there. You don’t need to go through this alone. Anxiety treatment can help you become your own navigator in life reducing your over worry and building your confidence in handling the hard moments.
If you are really struggling to reduce your worry, attending therapy can help. The therapists at Aspire Counseling offer in person counseling in Columbia, MO or online therapy in Missouri. Aspire Counseling has therapists trained in general anxiety treatment, OCD (including “pure O” forms without obvious compulsions and EX/RP), high functioning anxiety or just general worry. Aspire Counseling has therapists who work with pre-teens, teenagers, college students, professionals & adults all the way through retirement who find themselves worrying more than they’d like.
About the Guest Author
Dr. Donna Novak is a licensed clinical psychologist with a therapy practice in Simi Valley, CA. Her therapy practice, Simi Psychological Group, offers child therapy, teen therapy, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, marriage counseling, and neuropsychological testing. Aspire Counseling owner, Jessica, has consulted with Donna and has the upmost respect for her work as a mental health professional. Given that both practice have a focus on anxiety treatment, Jessica invited Donna to share some of her tips with our clients & visitors!