Worrying is a normal part of the human experience — everyone experiences it from time to time. But left unchecked, it can have effects on both your physical and mental health. But what exactly is worrying? Worry is defined as distress caused by something that you might possibly experience in the future. The object of worry could be anything from a presentation you have to give in 30 minutes to developing a serious health condition twenty years from now. While there’s no way to completely rid yourself of these thoughts, it is possible to significantly reduce their negative effects. Here are some tips to help keep your worries under control.
1. Try Mindfulness Meditation
Practicing mindfulness meditation involves focusing your attention on the present moment. This can help tame racing thoughts. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, follow these steps:
- Find a quiet place where you can relax comfortably.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- Notice your thoughts without passing judgement on them.
- Gently return to your usual pattern of breathing.
- Continue letting your thoughts pass for 10 minutes while you sit comfortable with your eyes closed.
2. Practice Deep Breathing
It sounds like an oversimplification but increasing your oxygen levels lowers the physiological effects of anxiety on your body. In other words, your heart rate goes down, your muscles relax, and your mind slows down — all of which can aid in reducing worry. Here’s a deep-breathing exercise to try the next time you find yourself worrying:
- Choose a comfortable place to sit or lie down and close your eyes.
- Breathe in through your nose, imagining a sense of calm filling your body.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth, visualizing all of your worries and tensions leaving your body.
- Repeat this process as many times as you need.
3. Explore Guided Imagery
Conjuring soothing images can be a powerful way to slow down a racing mind. It’s a powerful strategy to enhance your coping skills. Nature-based guided imagery can help trigger positive behavioural and physiological responses. The next time you feel tense, try these steps to combat negative thoughts:
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable position or lying down.
- Take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself in a peaceful, natural setting, such as a forest or meadow.
4.Perform a Body Scan
When you’re worried, it’s normal to store tension in your muscles. A body scan meditation helps you bring your focus back to your physical being so you can start to release the tension you’re holding. Start by directing your attention toward your scalp, bringing all of your attention to how it feels. Are you feeling any tension or tightness there? Continue scanning down your body, all the way to the tips of your toes.
5. Talk with Others
Talking to someone who has dealt with your same worries or understands your situation can provide much-needed validation and support. One of the best ways to feel less alone is to share your concerns with friends who take the time to listen and understand what you are going through. Rather than bottling up your worries, call a close friend and set up a coffee date. Let them know you just need a moment to vent or talk things through.
6. Keep a Worry Journal
Keeping a record of your worries can help you analyse and process your feelings. Starting a worry journal can be as easy as grabbing a pen and jotting down a few pages before bed or whenever your mind becomes restless throughout the day. Simply writing down your thoughts about a bothersome situation may allow you to look at them in a new light. As you write down your concerns, here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- What exactly are you worried about?
- What are your feelings about the situation?
- What’s the worst-case scenario?
- Are there any concrete steps you can take to tackle the object of your worry?
7. Move More
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but exercise can have a big impact on your mental state. And it doesn’t have to involve a vigorous gym session or 10-mile hike. Even a 10-minute walk around the block can help calm a racing mind.
8. Consider Anxiety
Worrying is a natural instinct protects you from threatening situations by making you more vigilant. For example, let’s suppose that you worry about losing your job. In response to this worry, you might improve your performance, start networking for new opportunities or build up your savings. These are all healthy responses to concerns about your job security.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is unproductive, making you less functional. In the scenario mentioned above, for example, you might instead become irrationally angry at work or start making impulsive decisions. You might lash out at a well-meaning co-worker or abruptly quit your job without having a backup plan. You might also experience powerful physiological symptoms, such as:
- increased heart rate
- muscle tension
While it’s normal to worry from time to time, excessive worry and anxiety can take a toll on your health. Consider seeking professional help if your worries or anxieties start to have a noticeable impact on your day-to-day life.