How To Let Go Of Worry
By Paul Triggs, LMSW
Worry is defined as “mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated “(Meriam-Webster, 2019). Worry is not just a negative reaction to anticipated circumstances but rather a useful response to keep you and those around you safe. Although, some worry can be helpful, excessive worry could do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to help you gain independence from excessive worry.
1. Practice Breathing
I know it sounds simple. But sometimes answers are simple.
Breathing exercises may seem daunting or silly at times but without oxygen you would not be reading this. Breathing is an essential part of your existence, but it could be more. Did you know that controlled breathing and relaxation techniques can be an extremely valuable tool? For example, deep breathing exercises have been successful in helping reduce PTSD symptoms and lowering blood pressure to create a calmer mood (Kim, Schneider, Kravitz, Mermier, & Burge, 2013). In turn, deep breathing could be a valuable tool when you are stressed out try a few deep breaths and see if that helps.
2. Make A List
Anxiety and excessive worry are uncomfortable feelings that we all experience at one time or another. For example, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America nearly 40 million adults are affected by anxiety each year (ADAA, 2019). So, if you are reading this and feel like you struggle with anxiety you are not alone. Although, the amount of people who struggle with anxiety may seem disheartening this illness is quite treatable with the right guidance. Making a list is one good practice that could help reduce your anxiety and increase your ability to make good decisions. The practice of list making alone helps implement one key tool of anxiety treatment and that is learning to focus on one thing at a time. One thing I have learned recently is that the concept of multi-tasking is a myth because no one can do two things simultaneously with the same amount of quality. In response, making a list can help you rank tasks by importance and provide some reflection on your priorities.
3. Set A Goal
The act of setting a goal is a crucial and incredibly value step for your well-being. For example, many famous people we all look up to only reached their level of success because they set a goal and reached it. For you the goal may not to be famous it could be something more practical such as learning a new language or learning how to play an instrument. Although, these goals may seem far from each other they share one common thread they are three singular goals. While it would be possible to learn a new language and learning to play an instrument simultaneously this would be difficult. On the other hand, think of a time when you put your heart into one thing how did that go? I bet it went well because you were present in the moment and held a singular focus which is to achieve that goal. In turn, setting a singular goal is a good place to when you are trying to gain independence from worry because you will have more time and energy to ensure that it becomes a success.
4. Set Small Achievable Steps and Complete Them One at a Time
In a perfect world we would all have one clear set of steps that we could focus on and master to achieve our goals. Unfortunately, life is unpredictable, and you may need to accomplish multiple things at one time which will hamper your ability to reach your full potential. In response, setting small attainable steps may provide relief from your worry and help you stay motivated while focusing on what really matters. Although, this may seem like a unique idea to some people it is not because you do these things every day. For example, enrolling in high school and college was a result of multiple small steps such as testing, research and attending orientation. As you can see this is something you are already a pretty good at so try and apply those same principles to your current challenges. If you have difficulty coming with the ideas to make these steps or need a second opinion feel free to reach out to a friendly therapist who would be happy to help.
ADAA. (2019). Facts and Statistics. Retrieved from: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Kim, S. H., Schneider, S. M., Kravitz, L., Mermier, C., & Burge, M. R. (2013). Mind-body practices for posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of investigative medicine: the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 61(5), 827–834. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e3182906862
Worry. 2019. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worry