7 tips to end chronic worry - psychology - 2023



When does a normal worry become excessive? Concerns, doubts and concerns are part of our day to day.

It is normal to worry about a bill that we cannot pay, a job interview or a first date, but when this feeling persists over time and is difficult to control; When you continually ask yourself "what if ..." and worst-case scenarios come to mind in ways that interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from chronic worry.

Constant restlessness, negative thoughts, or always expecting the worst can have negative consequences for your physical and emotional well-being. You may feel fatigued, scared for no apparent reason, have insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, cramps, or find it difficult to focus on school or work. Many people fall into the dynamics of venting their negativity with those closest to them, self-medicate, abuse drugs and alcohol or escape from reality in front of a screen.

If you are feeling excessively worried and nervous, there are ways to overcome these constant negative thoughts.. Chronic worry is a habit that your brain has acquired and retraining your mind to feel more relaxed, see life from a more balanced and less catastrophic perspective, it is possible.

Why is it so hard for us to stop thinking about it?

Constant worry can keep you awake at night and nervous and tense during the day. Even though you hate feeling this way, you don't know how to stop it. Our beliefs, both negative and positive, fuel anxiety and irrational thoughts.

  • Negative beliefs about worry make you feel like you are going to lose control, that you are damaging your health, that this will never end. These negative beliefs, or "worrying about worry," make you fall into a vicious cycle.

  • Positive beliefs can be just as harmful. They can lead you to think that your concern will help you avoid bad things from happening to you, avoid problems, be prepared for the worst, or lead you to a solution just by thinking about it a lot. It will be more difficult for you to break the habit of worrying if you think it benefits you in something. When you realize that worrying is not the solution but the problem, you can begin to control your mind.

Helpful Tips to End Chronic Worry

Fortunately, From psychology we have a few rules that we can apply to reduce this level of concern.

1. Make a time to worry

Give your mind permission to worry, but only for as long as you have set. When negative thoughts appear, you should postpone them, not avoid them, if not leave them for later. Establish a schedule, which should be the same for each day (for example, at coffee time from 3:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.), during this period you can give free rein to your negative thoughts, but outside these hours they will be strictly prohibited.

Write down your concerns. When a negative thought assails you, write a short note and continue with your tasks. You will have time later to think about it, therefore, now you have no need to do so.

Read your list of problems during the set period. If what you have written down continues to cause you discomfort, give yourself permission to think about it, but only during the time set for it. If, on the contrary, it seems to you that its intensity has disappeared, shorten the time of worry and enjoy the day.

2. Debate with yourself the veracity of your negative thoughts

If you suffer from chronic worry, your worldview may be more threatening than it really is. For example, you can exaggerate the possibility that things will go wrong, imagine the worst-case scenario, and take the veracity of our ideas for granted. You may also underestimate your abilities to deal with everyday problems. and assume that you will not know how to handle them. These types of thoughts are known as cognitive distortions, they include:

  • Thinking that everything is black or white, regardless of the middle ground. "If things don't go well, it's because I'm a complete mess."
  • Generalize for the simple fact of having had some negative experience, believing that this will always be the case. “I didn't get that job; I will never work again ”.
  • Giving too much importance to negative things and belittling the positive. “I got the last question on the exam wrong; I'm dumb." Highlight the mistakes and forget the successes.
  • Disregard the achievements. "The presentation was a success, but it was just a matter of luck."
  • Expect the worst to happen. “The pilot said that we went through a zone of turbulence; the plane is going to crash ”.
  • Recriminate to yourself what you should or did not do and punish yourself with continuous reproaches. “I shouldn't have started the conversation with her; I'm an idiot".
  • Label yourself for past mistakes. I'm a mess, I'm boring; I deserve to be alone ”.
  • Take responsibility for events that are out of your control. “It's my fault he had that accident; I should have reminded him to drive slowly. "

How to refute those thoughts

When you feel haunted by these thoughts, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What evidence do I have that this is true? And that they are not?
  • Is there a more positive or realistic perspective of seeing the situation?
  • What is the probability that this frightening thing actually ends up happening? If the chance of it happening is low, what is more likely to happen?
  • Is this thought helpful? Does it help me or hurt me?
  • What would you say to a friend who raised this concern with me?

3. Distinguish between what has a solution and what does not

Studies show that while you're busy worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Thinking about the problem makes you mistakenly feel that you are doing something to fix it. But worrying and fixing something are two very different things.

Solving problems involves evaluating the situation, specifying the steps to follow to deal with it, and then implementing the action plan. No matter how much time you spend thinking about the worst that can happen, that doesn't make you more prepared to deal with it, if it does eventually happen.

Does your problem have a solution?

A solvable problem is one that allows you to take immediate action to solve it. For example, if you are concerned about your bills, you can call your creditors and renegotiate the due date with them.

The worries that do not lead to anything are those that do not allow you any action or are unsolvable. "What will happen if one day I have cancer? What do I do if my child has an accident? "

  • If you have a solution, brainstorm all the possible solutions that you can think of. Focus on the things you can change and put aside those that are beyond your control. Once your options have been evaluated, start the action plan. Once you have a plan and start to execute it, you will feel much better.
  • If you have no solution, accept the uncertainty. If you suffer from chronic worry, surely your worries will be of this type. By worrying, you have the feeling that you can predict what the future holds and thus prevent possible unpleasant surprises. But things don't work that way. Thinking about things that can go wrong doesn't make life more predictable. Focusing only on the worst that can happen prevents you from enjoying the good times of the present. You must combat your need to have everything under control and to seek immediate answers.

4. Break the vicious cycle

When you suffer from chronic worry, you feel that your thoughts turn on an eternal wheel, that you are out of control, that you are going to go crazy or that the weight of anxiety will end up crushing you. But you can take these steps to break this spiral of anxiety and give yourself a break:

  • Do exercise. Moving your body releases endorphins, which help relieve tension and stress. Focus your attention on what you feel while running, dancing, walking, on your breathing and the rhythm of your heart.
  • Sign up for yoga or tai chi classes. These Eastern disciplines keep your attention in the present, help clear your mind, and promote well-being.
  • Breath deeply. When you are worried, your breathing quickens, leading to more severe pictures of anxiety. By practicing deep relaxation exercises you can calm your mind.

5. Share your concerns

It may seem like a very simple solution, but talk to a trusted friend or family member who listens to you carefully, without judging or criticizing you is the most effective way to calm your anxiety. When you see that you are about to spiral, verbalizing your concerns will help make them seem less serious.

Keeping things inside will only magnify them and they will end up being overwhelming. Sharing them with someone you trust will help you see them in perspective. And if your concerns are justified, perhaps someone else's gaze will help you find the solution.

6. Practice mindfulness

Worrying usually means focusing on the future: what can happen and what you could do to avoid it. Or in the past: berating yourself for what you have said or done in the wrong way. Mindfulness helps to focus on the present and therefore to free oneself from worries.

  • Acknowledge and observe your concerns. Don't try to ignore or fight them, just look at them as if you were an outside observer, without reacting or judging.
  • Let them go. You will notice that when you do not pay attention to these thoughts that appear suddenly, they will end up disappearing like clouds in the sky pushed by the wind.
  • Keep your attention in the present. Focus your attention on how your body feels, your breathing, and the thoughts that come to your mind; If you get caught up in any of them, bring your attention back to the present.
  • Do it daily. Mastering this technique takes time, you should not be discouraged if at first you find it difficult to control your negative thoughts. Just interrupting them and coming back to the present will help you reinforce your routine and create a habit of breaking the spiral of worry.

7. See a professional

Psychological health professionals can help you better understand the causes and triggers for your concern. What's more, They will offer you tools adapted to your case so that you can work on these emotional blocks until you return to be the owner of your present and your future.