Worrying is a state of being anxious or stressed about actual or potential problems. While having worries or doubts are a normal part of our lives, constant worrying will take a toll on your health and wellbeing. Excessive worrying is characterised by constantly running 'what if' scenarios through your head to the point where it is interfering with your life. Sometimes people think that if they run all the 'what if' scenarios through their head they will prevent problems, or it will leave them better prepared as they have thought through all the possible options. The thing about constant worrying (note its always future focused) is that it saps the joy out of the present by leaving you in a constant state of anxiety. The 'what if' scenarios almost always include a negative frame too. Have you noticed that the 'what if's' are about what can go wrong rather than what can go right? In worrying we expend an enormous amount energy on things that what won't happen anyway. Here worrying can give us a sense of control and can help us feel that we are actively doing something about it - ironically most of our worries are about things we have no control over.
Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles, it takes away today's peace
So if you want to stop worrying less, here is a useful exercise: Schedule in a time to worry. If you have a worrisome thought pop up, park it so that you can think through it later. Give yourself some uninterrupted space to worry so that you can give it your full attention. Reach Out has a Worry Time app that can help you capture all your worries as they pop up in your day, and then you select a time where you can give it your full attention. Once you can give your worries your full attention, you can review which of these you can ditch, and then spend some time on the others. Now its time to problem solve - change what you can about the situation or change how you look at it - your perspective. Here its is useful to also keep in mind what is within your control (you and your reactions), and what is not (others, the future, the weather, traffic etc.). Recognising that we cannot control other people or their behaviour, is helpful. There is no point spending energy on things you cannot control - including worrying about them.
Similar to the above - another useful tool is this constructive worry exercise - this can help if you mind is keeping you awake at night. Constructive worrying is a method for managing the tendency to worry during that quiet time when sleep is supposed to be taking over. During the early evening (at least 2 hours before bed) take about fifteen minutes to do - it helps you get clear on your concerns as well as potential solutions.
Once you have done what you could with your worries in terms of problem solving - let the rest go, connect with and focus on the present. Doing some deep breathing other forms of self-soothing at the end of this exercise can convey to our minds and bodies that there is nothing to be anxious about. You've got this!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as counselling/therapy advice or used as a substitute for such. You should always speak to your own counsellor.