Worries can be paralyzing. They can consume our thoughts, distract us from things we’re trying to do in the day, soil our mood, and feel like it’s sucking our energy.
Some worries are deserving of our mental energy. However, many start in our heads, manifest there, and never become a reality, or ever live up to our worst expectations.
This is why it’s so important to learn how to worry less and get out of the routine of living with regular mental anguish. The following are 8 different ways to rid yourself of mental anguish and worry less.
1. Learn the dichotomy of control
The ancient Greek and Roman Stoics understood well the dichotomy of control. In its simplest sense, the dichotomy of control is know that there are things that you can control and things that are beyond your control.
Things you can’t control are things such as other people, what people say or think about you, what will happen to you or your family tomorrow, how long you’ll live, or whether or not your boss will promote you.
What we can control however is our behaviour, what we think about, how hard we try, and how we respond and react to things.
Learn to separate what you can control from what you can’t control and you’ll be a lot happier and a lot less worried.
Can you do something about it? Yes? Then do something about it and stop worrying. No? Then stop worrying, you can’t do anything about it.
2. Look for the silver lining
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
We’ve all heard this adage over and over, but there is wisdom in there. Life happens to everyone. How we respond to it or take learnings lessons from it, can determine how we come out on the other side.
When life gives you a tough situation, you can either sit there and spend your energy worrying about it, or you can look for the silver lining.
How can you benefit from this situation? How can you leverage it? What can you learn from it? Could it be worse?
3. Be realistic
Worrying comes from a place in the mind that is emotional and not rational.
Often times, it can send us down a rabbit hole, of constantly coming up with worser and worser outcomes from the thing we’re worrying about.
It can lead us to exaggerate or over react to what we’re worrying about.
Is it actually as bad as you imagine it? Is it something you might come out on the other side fine? Will this too pass?
Attempt to take a step back from the thing you’re worrying about and try to look at it objectively. If you’re struggling to, tell your situation or the thing you’re worried about to someone you trust and hear from them how they perceive it. Worse than you do? Better than you do?
When worries enter your mind, be sure remind yourself to be realistic. Also, don’t make assumptions. When you’re lost in worries, you may have a tendency to make assumptions about the thing you’re worried about.
4. Get physically active
There’s plenty of studies that show how physical exercise can help improve your mood and help with worrying.
If you find yourself caught in a web of worries and it’s keeping you up at night, try being more physically active every day. Try going out for runs, lift some weights, do some yoga, and learn a martial art.
Take time to clear your mind with some physical activity. It won’t just improve your mood and clear your worries, it can make you physically healthier!
5. Vent and express yourself to someone
When you’re caught up in your worries, it can feel pretty lonely. You may even feel vulnerable or embarrassed to open up to someone about it.
But it’s worth it!
It can sometimes feel like getting a weight lifted off of you, or at the very least, make you reevaluate your worries, and maybe even brainstorm a solution in the process.
Talk to someone you trust like a friend or family member about your worries. It can be as simple as venting your worries to this person, or expressing the thing you’re worried about to them and getting their opinion on it.
If there’s no one you feel like you can talk to, or it’s a private situation, you may want to seek the help of a professional. A therapist can help workout your worries with you or just give you an ear while you express yourself. It can become very cathartic for someone who lives with many worries and has to keep them down.
6. Write it out
Writing down your thoughts is another cathartic way to express yourself and help yourself worry less. It’s also a private way to organize your thoughts.
If you’re encountering a situation or event that’s making you worry, write about it. Write about what is worrying you, what the worst case scenario is, what is the silver lining, how it could be worse, and if you’re looking at the situation realistically.
It can also be a way to create a plan of action for yourself in terms of how you can fix or remedy the thing you’re worried about. It can make you feel like you’re more in control and help relieve worries.
7. Be present
Worries manifest in our heads.
Worries often have us thinking about something that we think might happen in the future or dwell on something in the past.
Being present and in the moment, keeps the mind on what matters: the now.
What you’re worrying about isn’t happening now or hasn’t happened yet. That’s where your mind is when you worry, it’s in the future.
Being present will immediately clear the mind of worries since it can’t be there or be in two places at one time. If you want to worry less, be in the present more.
Give the thing you’re doing now your full attention, don’t let the mind wander.
Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness and being in the present moment. There are mindfulness practices you can do every day or even when you’re caught up in worries, that can help bring your attention and your mind back to the present and out of the rabbit hole of thinking and worries.