It’s a question we all ask ourselves at some point: “Why do I worry so much?” As a writer, overthinking comes naturally. The wheels in my head are always spinning and I tend to write the entire story before it happens. But does it ever turn out the way I imagine it? Not very often.
From a psychological perspective, most of our worrying is a combination of fearful thoughts about the past and future, and attempting to solve problems that don’t exist yet. Needless to say, this way of thinking is neither helpful or productive. The only thing you have control over is how you think and act in the present moment.
Worry is an illusion that stems from a desire to control. We don’t consciously realize we’re doing this, but when we worry, we think it will somehow influence the outcome.
The good news is when you look at worrying for what it actually is (a self-sabotaging habit) you’ll see it’s a complete waste of time and energy.
4 Proven Techniques to Worry Less
- Practice mindfulness meditation
Rather than diving headfirst into worry mode, take a few minutes to relax and get centered. Mindfulness meditation will help you get grounded in the present.
All you need is 10 minutes. Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply. When your thoughts start to wander, bring your attention back to your breath.
The beauty of meditation is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Find Your Perfect Meditation Match! Here are 5 Meditation Styles Based on Your Needs
- Let go of perfectionism
Perfectionism is rooted in the fear that you won’t measure up if people see who you really are. In many cases, perfectionists end up self-sabotaging by beating themselves up for their mistakes and shortcomings.
“Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us, when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s preventing us from taking flight,” says Brené Brown, researcher and bestselling author.
If you’re struggling with perfectionism, practice self-compassion and remind yourself that making mistakes is part of learning and failure is necessary to experience growth.
Writing your thoughts down on paper will help you observe your negative thinking and identify what’s triggering your worry. Over time, you will start to see a pattern. Becoming aware of your thoughts is the first step to learning how to manage them.
By putting yourself in the position of the observer, you will have a new perspective. You will see those thoughts only have as much power as you give them.
4. Practice gratitude
Did you know it’s impossible to be in a state of worry when you’re in a state of gratitude? It’s a neurological fact: The two mental states cannot coexist.
One of the fastest ways to combat worry is through gratitude. Focus on three things you’re grateful for and really lean into those positive emotions. Being grateful is scientifically-proven to help you bounce back from stress and worry.
Do you spend a lot of time planning what you want to happen in the future? Do you have expectations for how things should turn out? The problem with this way of thinking is that when something unexpected happens you will become frustrated and stressed.
Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t. It is only when you learn to embrace the unknown and be present that you can be happy.