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10 Ways to Stop Worrying

Worry can be defined as "a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems." Worrying is a universal phenomenon, but some people are more plagued with it than others. The experience of worrying can almost feel like being held hostage by an alien force. In my post, I will suggest 10 steps to help you disarm this powerful adversary.

1. Make a list of everything that worries you. Get the worried thoughts out of your head where they are spinning out of control and write them down on paper. Seeing them in black and white in front of you allows you to view them in a more objective fashion.

2. Talk to someone about it. Talk to a trusted friend, family member or a counselor who can be there to listen. Sharing your thoughts with someone can make them seem less threatening.

3. Think of the worst case scenario. This may seem counterintuitive, but ask yourself if you would survive the worst possible outcome of the situation you are worried about. Most often, the answer would be "of course". Knowing that you can survive this hurdle will make it seem less catastrophic.

4. Set aside time to worry. Give yourself permission to worry as much as you like in, say, a 2 hour window of your day. When that time is up, put a lid on your worry and refuse to allow the worry back into your thoughts.

5. Break your worry down into smaller, doable tasks. It can be overwhelming to look at a problem in its entirety. Break it into tiny manageable steps that you can accomplish.

6. Take action. Once you have broken the cause of your worry into smaller pieces, stop procrastinating and pick one step and actually complete it. Taking the first step in the right direction actually makes the next step easier and less threatening.

7. Stick to the facts. We can easily blow our worry thoughts way out of proportion. We give them more power than they actually have. Make an accurate, realistic assessment of your situation.

8. Distract yourself. Don't allow worried thoughts to take over your whole life. Find positive distractions doing things you enjoy. This will take your mind off the burden you are carrying.

9. Stay in the present moment. So much of what we worry about is based on events in the future that may never even happen, or about past events that we can do nothing to change. The only moment we have any control over, is the one right now.

10. Stop obsessing about what others will think. Often we place ourselves in a straight jacket of worrying about others' opinions. Do what you know to be the right thing, and forget about how others will react.

As Mark Twain said: “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

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