Reviewed by our psychologist : Samantha Saxton
Chronic worrying is when you find yourself repeatedly thinking the same thoughts or replaying certain scenarios over and over again. You’re trying to process your emotions, but it doesn’t seem to be working. It’s making you restless, unhappy and maybe even causing you stress. The following tips can help you to break a habit of chronic worrying.
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How to Stop Your Chronic Worrying – 10 Tips
- Write it down
Grab a notebook and a pen. Write down whatever is on your mind. Have you noticed that you often worry when you’re lying in bed at night? Keep a notebook on your nightstand so that you’re ready to jot down your thoughts
- The elastic band trick
Place an elastic band around your wrist. Whenever you start to worry, you can pull it a little and let it snap back into place. This will make you aware of how much and how often you worry.
- Flip the script
Do you often find yourself worrying about all the things that could possibly go wrong? Flip the script by imagining what would happen if it went right. What would a positive outcome look and feel like?
- Take control
Focus on the things you can actually control. What can you do tomorrow that will change your situation and make you feel less anxious?
- Visualize it
Try to visualize all the thoughts that are spinning around in your head. Gather them together, place them in a big bag and take them outside with the rest of the trash.
- Focus on your breathing
Whenever negative thoughts start to arise, redirect your attention to your breathing. Calmly breathe in and out again, and watch as your worries start to subside.
- Allow a time for worrying
Set aside a period of time, for example a quarter of an hour each day, when you’re allowed to worry. Then postpone any brooding or overthinking until that scheduled moment. This gives you a fixed period of time to properly explore these repetitive thoughts so they’re not bothering you during the rest of the day.
Notice what’s happening when you’re worrying. Specifically, where are you (events), what are you thinking (thoughts), what are you feeling (feelings) and what are you going to do next (behavior)?
Top tip: This is the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic worrying.
- Accept your thoughts
Create some distance between yourself and your thoughts by saying things like “I notice that right now I’m thinking…”. This makes it easier to let them drift by, so you can carry on with what you’re doing.
Top tip: This tactic is part of acceptance and commitment therapy.
- Find a distraction
Workout, go for a walk, clean your house – anything that keeps you distracted. And do you often worry in bed? Read a book or do a mindfulness exercise.
Treatment Chronic Worrying
If you’re suffering from anxiety-induced chronic worrying, cognitive behavioral therapy can be really helpful. This type of therapy is often used to treat anxiety disorders and it can help if you’re struggling with chronic worrying. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves taking active steps to change your thoughts and behavior.
Your psychologist will be there to support you at every stage as you directly address your problem with chronic worrying. You’re the expert when it comes to yourself and your psychologist is the therapy expert; this means you’re essentially working together to change your thoughts and behavior.
Your psychologist will take you through a range of exercises where you’ll be asked to voice certain thoughts out loud. By doing this, you’ll gain better perspective about these situations. The more often you practice, the more skilled you’ll become at bringing these thoughts and behavior patterns under control.
You’ll also confront your thoughts directly. Are they true? Are they helpful? Are they causing you to worry more? Together with a psychologist, you’ll address these thoughts and see if they hold true. This takes courage, but it’s certainly the case that the more you practice, the better you’ll get at keeping worrying under control.