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 9 Worry Busting Steps

Dr Henriette Smith July 2017

· Mind

No. 1. Make a list of your worries. Identify what you are worried about.

No. 2. Analyze the list. Look at whether your worry is productive or unproductive. A productive worry is one that you can do something about right now. For example, "I am going to Italy, so I may be worried about making plane and hotel reservations." "This is a productive worry because I can take action now by going online to make reservations."

By contrast, an unproductive worry is one which you can't do anything about. It is more of a proliferation of 'what ifs,' over which you have no control and there is no productive action that will lead to a solution. For example, losing sleep and worrying about whether or not you will get cancer is unproductive.

No. 3. Embrace uncertainty. Once you have isolated your unproductive worries, it's time to identify what you need to accept in order to get over them. You may need to accept your own limitations or it may be a degree of uncertainty that you need to accept.

For example, you very well may get cancer some day as no one really knows what the future holds. Many worried people equate uncertainty with a bad outcome, but uncertainty is really neutral. When you accept uncertainty, you don't have to worry anymore. Acceptance means noticing that uncertainty exists and letting go and focusing on the things that you can control, enjoy, or appreciate.

No. 4. Bore yourself calm. Repeat a feared thought over and over and it will become boring and will go away. If your fear is dying of cancer, look in the mirror and say, "I may die of cancer. I may die of cancer." Say it enough and it will lose its power.

No 5. Make yourself uncomfortable. Worriers feel that they can't tolerate discomfort, but if you practice discomfort, you will accomplish a lot more. The goal is to be able to do what you don't want to do or things that make you uncomfortable.

Worriers tend to avoid new things and situations that make them uncomfortable, such as parties or public speaking engagements. The preemptive worry helps them avoid discomfort, but if you force yourself to do the very things that make you uncomfortable, you will rely less on worry as a coping strategy.

No 6. Stop the clock. Worried people often have a sense of urgency. They think, 'I need the answer right now and if I don't get it then something terrible will happen.' Look at the advantages and disadvantages of demanding such urgency. Rather than focus on the sense of urgency, instead focus on what you observe right now.

Ask yourself, 'What can I do in the present moment to make my life more pleasant or meaningful?’ You can either focus your mind on getting an answer right now or focus on improving the moment. The latter is the better strategy. Take a deep breath, read, or listen to music to stop the clock and curtail your anxiety.

No 7. Remember that it's never as bad as you think it will be. Anxiety or worry is all about anticipation. The 'what ifs' are always way worse than how you feel when something actually happens. Worriers tend to worry about things that even if they happen, they can handle it. Worriers are actually good at handling real problems.

No 8. Cry out loud. The emotional part of the brain—the amygdala—is suppressed when you worry. The emotion kicks in later with gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue or rapid heart rate. Use your emotions; don't try to get rid of them because when you are crying or angry, you are not worried.

No 9. Talk about it. Beside the cognitive therapy techniques mentioned above—which can help change troublesome behaviors—talk therapy can also help chronic worriers worry less by getting to the root of their issues. Often talk therapy and cognitive behavior therapy can work together.

Each individual needs to understand what causes their anxiety or what it is related to. If you dig deep enough and go back to the early bases, it goes away because you have gotten to its roots.

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.

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blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.