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How to Worry Less

We all worry. There are bills to pay, children to raise, deadlines to meet, and crises in many parts of the world.

Some worrying is necessary; it means we aren’t shirking our responsibilities and that we care what happens to ourselves and the people we love.

It’s critical to our physical and emotional health to learn the difference between normal, healthy worry and worry that is unfounded or irrational. A useful stress management skill is to learn how to minimize your worrying once you’ve realized that it has become unhealthy.

Needless worry takes a toll on our energy, our time, our emotions and our sleep. We find ourselves unable to focus on our tasks and unpleasant to be around. Determining the worries that are valid and those that are not is extremely important to maintaining a healthy and well balanced life.

Here are some strategies to help you deal with unhealthy worry when it starts consuming your time and energy.

1. Write it down – Get those worries out of your head and put them out in the open. Try to be clear and specific about what exactly it is that you are worried about. Seeing a worry in print may help you let go of it, find an obvious solution to the problem, or when appropriate, inspire you to do something about it.

Journaling or keeping a diary is a good way to write down and release your worries on a regular basis.

2. Find someone to talk to – Whether you choose a friend, spouse or professional counselor, it can be extremely helpful to tell someone about your worries. Hearing yourself saying them out loud may be all it takes to help you realize that you’re worrying needlessly. In addition, your sounding board may be able to offer sound advice that can help you solve problems and reduce your stress.

3. Define the worst-case scenario – What’s the worst that could happen if your fear is realized? You will often find that the worst-case scenario is not as bad as you first imagined. Think about what you would do and how you would handle the situation if it actually happened.

Once you’ve clearly defined the worst-case scenario, decide that you can accept and deal with it if it does occur. This decision alone can eliminate many of your unhealthy worries.

4. Think about the likelihood of your worry coming true – In many cases, you may find yourself needlessly worrying about something that is very unlikely to happen. For example, if you live in California, the possibility of a tornado or hurricane is minimal.

Make a list of all the likely positive outcomes for each of your worries. The longer the list, the better it will help you counteract your worries.

5. Take action – Taking action is the best tool against worry because it shifts your focus away from worrisome thoughts toward positive and purposeful thoughts that are fully within your control.

There are two types of actions you can take to ensure that the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen: prevention and mitigation. You can even take these actions against worries that are completely out of your control.

Prevention actions reduce the likelihood of the worst-case scenario by improving your preparation and by identifying and reducing risk factors.

Mitigation actions reduce the severity of the worst-case if it does happen by improving your ability to respond and by having a backup plan.

Very often, being able to take action leaves you feeling empowered, lessening your worry. Even though you may not be able to fix everything, you have controlled the potential situation to the best of your ability. Then you must realize that you can’t control the rest, and you must be able to let that part go.

Let’s look at a natural disaster scenario. If you live on the coast and your home is in need of major repairs, worrying about a natural disaster may be a valid concern. You can’t control when and if a disaster strikes, but you can control how prepared you are to deal with it. So, instead of losing hours worrying about it, spend some time preparing your home and your family to take the effects of a potential disaster as best it can.

If you find that you are still worrying even after you’ve affected change on those pieces that you can control, it’s time to take steps to reduce the worrying, before it creates undue stress.

Talk to yourself about accepting things as they are – Positive affirmations that you have done everything you can do, and reminders that some things are out of your control can help ease your mind when worries blindside you.

Practice stress relief techniques – Breathe deeply to slow your heart rate and calm your nerves. Take a walk. Meditate or do a few minutes of yoga. Focusing on reducing the stress you feel at the moment can help get those worries out of your mind.

Remember the serenity prayer – Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

There are people who, regardless of what steps they take on their own, cannot seem to let go of needless worry. If you find yourself feeling completely out of control with worry, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, and you may need counseling and medication to overcome your worries. If that is the case, your doctor can recommend treatment plans that can reduce the emotional anguish that anxiety disorders can cause.

Performance coaching for busy executives is a great way to improve your productivity and performance while reducing and managing stress.

If you want to address general stress, personal coaching or life coaching may also be a great option for you.

If you want to learn how to become a life coach, just follow the link to a great resource website.

Warning: Stress symptoms can be associated with serious medical conditions. The stress management information and techniques in this section are provided as general guidelines for informational purposes only. You should seek the help of qualified medical professionals if you have health or mental concerns over stress. You should also consult with your health care provider before making major changes in your diet or exercise levels.

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