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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living?

By: Ilona Myllniemi

6 min read

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Many of us spend a lot of our time worrying – especially when we’re facing higher levels of uncertainty than usual. We might worry about ordinary, everyday things, like whether or not we locked the door, or we might be preoccupied with worrying about the future, the past, or perhaps about other people’s feelings toward us.

When it comes to worrying, the sky’s the limit (unfortunately). So, how to stop worrying about everything? Let’s take a look at some ways we can learn how to stop worrying – or at least reduce the impact our worries have on our lives.

Trying to stop worrying can be unhelpful

Most of us want to know how to stop worrying. It’s not fun, and it can take up a lot of our time. However, sometimes when we’re trying really hard to live mindfully and change our habits when it comes to worrying and overthinking, we might accidentally start worrying about worrying!

Being preoccupied with trying to control our thoughts and avoid all traces of worrying can, in some instances, become compulsive, or at least unhelpful, and bring more stress into our lives. Instead of trying to eradicate all worries from our minds immediately, learning how to practice self-care towards our anxious parts can be more helpful than trying to force ourselves to not worry. When a worry comes up, know that it’s okay! Have some compassion for those parts of you that are trying to keep you safe by coming up with more or less likely future scenarios.

Figuring out why you’re worried

Many of us worry about things because we want to protect ourselves. We want to be absolutely certain about what happens in the future, and we want to be in control – or at least fully prepared. One key reason why learning how to stop worrying can be so difficult is because we often believe that worrying is what’s keeping us safe and secure. However, worrying and overthinking can’t change the future or the past, and replaying scary scenarios in our heads is not helping us prepare. In fact, it’s often the thing that’s keeping us stuck and frozen!

Sometimes the source of your worries might not be obvious. A key component in learning how to stop worrying and start living is identifying the source of your worries – your core fear. What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of it? Developing self-awareness can be a long journey, but it’s definitely a rewarding one.

One way to improve your knowledge of yourself is through journaling. You might want to make a list where you identify your most common worries and write about why those things feel so scary or overwhelming. Doing so can lower the impact your worries have on you, and help you learn more about how your mind works. Using a journaling app can be an easy way to work on your worries on the go!

Meeting your worry with realism & resilience

Sometimes our worries can be really “out there” and completely unrealistic – or at least have a ridiculously low chance of them actually coming true. In this case, adopting a realistic outlook and reminding yourself of the actual likelihood of things going wrong can give you some peace of mind. Assessing the available evidence and trying to see the situation for how it really is can help you manage your worries.
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However, in some cases, our worries could even be somewhat realistic. Or, on the other hand, our attempts to ease our anxieties by reminding ourselves of the incredibly low likelihood of the worst-case scenario coming true may simply fall flat. In those cases, reminding ourselves of our resilience can help. Learning to trust that even if the worst-case scenario occurs, and even if the worries come true, we’ll be able to cope and find our way through can be incredibly empowering and help us reduce the hold our worries have on us.

Sometimes learning how to stop worrying isn’t about preventing our worried thoughts from coming up, but about learning that we’re so incredibly resilient and adaptable that even if our worries come true, we’ll get through it and be okay.

Meditation and mindfulness

Worrying tends to clutter our minds with anxious and scary thoughts. Mindfulness – shifting from analysing your inner world to being fully present and aware of the world around you – can help us pull away from overthinking, and turn ourselves towards all the things that are actually happening right now (and not in the distant future). Mindfulness doesn’t have to be formal or difficult: it can be as simple as bringing our awareness and attention to the present moment without judgement.

Mindfulness to Stop Worrying

Mindfulness can also be practiced more formally through meditation. If sitting in silence sounds uncomfortable, fear not – the internet is full of guided meditations, and many mental health apps have brilliant guided meditations available at your convenience. Meditation is also a great way to calm your nervous system down – and when your physical body is calm and relaxed, your worries often seem less overpowering, less loud, and easier to address.

Not engaging with your worries

Sometimes learning to let our worries come and go can be more helpful than challenging each individual thought that comes up. If the worries tend to be about multiple topics, and no matter what you do, another stressful thought seems to pop up, it can be more trouble than it’s worth to individually debunk each one of those thoughts. When our worries are so intense that we’re desperately trying to learn how to not worry about everything, practicing non-engagement with your thoughts can help a lot. Remember: thoughts, no matter how scary or realistic they seem, do not always describe reality.

Understanding that we don’t have to follow all of our thoughts, no matter how alarming they might be, can give us some much-needed peace and quiet, and help us learn how to stop worrying and start living. It can be helpful to think about your thoughts like clouds or waves: they can come and go, and they don’t have to mean anything. It’s safe to not react to their existence.

Professional help

Sometimes worrying can be more than just worrying. Constant worrying and overthinking can be damaging on their own, but that could also be a symptom of a mental health disorder; for example, an anxiety disorder or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). If your worries and anxieties impact your quality of life, take up a lot of your time, or if you’re experiencing severe distress, reaching out to a mental health professional is often a good idea. Talking to them can help you to learn how to stop worrying.

With the help of a qualified professional, you can get to the root of what’s causing unnecessary worry, and come up with a personalized treatment plan that’s helpful for you. Using a mood tracker – either on a mood tracker app, or by tracking your mood in your journal or calendar – can help you recognize patterns, and it can help you see how much of your time and energy is actually spent on worrying. Getting your life back from worries, anxiety, and overthinking can be scary, but a good therapist can help you figure out solutions that help you learn how to stop worrying.

Getting yourself treated for your mental health issues is normal these days. Mooditude offers such a platform which can help in learning how to stop worrying and start living. Download Mooditude today to take the first step for your mental well-being.

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Ilona Myllniemi

Ilona Myllniemi is a mental health advocate based in the UK and the founder of the social enterprise I Go to Therapy. After seeking therapy for the first time at age 17, they became passionate about destigmatizing going to therapy and educating people on mental health, therapy, and mental health disorders in a nuanced but approachable way. She hopes that eventually, mental health discussions will become as normal as talking about what you had for breakfast.

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