Worrying is hard on your mental health and your physical health. When life feels scary or uncertain, it can be hard to not collapse under anxious and worrying thoughts. While there’s no one true guidebook for how to stop worrying completely, there are ways to address and cope with how you’re feeling.
When life is stressful, it’s easy for basic self-care to go out the window as your body and mind shift into survival mode. But when you’re dealing with something hard, it’s best to focus on staying grounded and doing what you can for yourself at the moment. Here are some tips for when worries are high and the future is uncertain.
Let Yourself Be Aware of Your Thoughts
Give yourself time every day to be still and listen to your thoughts. Instead of letting your thoughts dictate your emotions, simply notice how you feel with non-judgmental awareness.
Take some deep breaths, close your eyes, and practice sitting with your thoughts without the need to react to them.
Recognize What You Can and Cannot Control
There are many things in life that we cannot control, and it’s okay to recognize those things. In fact, it can be freeing to realize what you do have control over—and what you can just let be.
Think of what’s causing your worry and make a list of:
- What you cannot control about the situation; and
- What you can control, including what you can change or manage about it.
It’s actually not about figuring out how to stop worrying completely; it’s about acknowledging your worries in a realistic way, then feeling in control so you can handle what’s bothering you.
Take Regular Breaks from the News and Social Media
These days, we have every kind of news source at our fingertips. It’s easy to get stuck in a spiral of news reports and social media feeds when you’re not sure what to do with your anxious energy. But pay attention to how these things are affecting you.
The internet is constantly reporting on whatever will get the most views. That often means they focus on the negative and dramatic above all. Taking breaks from Facebook, Twitter, news sites, and even email is necessary.
If you notice yourself feeling more anxious and worried as you checked these outlets, put the phone down or turn off the computer for a while, take some deep breaths, and do something away from the internet.
Set Aside “Worry Time”
Research has shown that giving yourself a specific time to worry about something can be helpful—rather than letting the worry consume you all day. Try this:
- Identify what it is you’re worried about.
- Decide on a place and time you’ll think about that worry.
- If you notice you’re worrying about that thing at a different time, make a point to direct your thoughts elsewhere until your designated worry time.
- During your worry time, focus on thinking through what you can do to either remedy the situation or find solutions to help you feel better.
This time will also give you some structure for your worry so you can find ways to deal with it productively. Otherwise, it’s too easy to feel constant anxiety and stress without knowing how to handle it.
Give Yourself Outlets
Writing out how you’re feeling is therapeutic for many people. If journaling isn’t your thing, consider confiding in a friend or loved one, recording a video or audio of you just talking about how you feel, or doing something else creative that expresses your worry and emotions. Letting out your emotions can also help relieve you of the burden that comes with excessive worry.
It can also help to engage in activities that give your mind and body something to do. You could do work you enjoy, try a new hobby, paint, or do a puzzle that keeps you from ruminating on the same worries all day.
Get Back to Basic Self-Care
In times of worry and uncertainty, simple acts of taking care of yourself might feel heavy or overwhelming. When this happens, it can be good to get back to the basics:
- Eating regularly
- Drinking water
- Moving your body
- Sleeping, and
- Basic grooming and hygiene
Also, don’t forget to breathe! Find small, healthy actions that help you feel better and bring you joy.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to know how to stop worrying when things feel uncertain or you’re filled with anxiety. Hopefully, the above tips can help you manage the worry and care for your mind, body, and soul during this situation. Keep in mind that everything in life is temporary, including moments like this. Hang in there, as this too shall pass.