When does normal preoccupation become excessive? Worries, doubts and restlessness are part of our daily life.
It’s okay to worry about a bill we can’t pay, a job interview, or a first date, but when that feeling lingers over time and it’s hard to control ; When you continually wonder “what if …” and worst case scenarios come to your mind in a way that interferes with your daily life, you may be chronically worried.
Constant agitation, negative thoughts or always expecting the worst can take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being. You may feel tired, scared for no apparent reason, suffer from insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, cramps, or find it difficult to concentrate on your studies or work. Many people fall into the dynamic of expressing their negativity with loved ones, self-healing, using drugs and alcohol, or escaping reality in front of a screen.
If you are feeling overly worried and nervous, there are ways to overcome these constant negative thoughts.. Chronic worry is a habit your brain has acquired and it is possible to re-educate your mind to feel more relaxed, to see life from a more balanced and less catastrophic point of view.
Why is it so hard for us to stop turning the tide?
Constant worry can keep you awake at night and nervous and tense during the day. Even though you hate feeling it, you don’t know how to stop it. Our beliefs, both negative and positive, fuel anxiety and irrational thinking.
Negative beliefs about worrying make you feel like you are going to lose control, that you are damaging your health, that it will never end. These negative beliefs, or “worrying about worrying,” put you in a vicious cycle.
Positive beliefs can be just as harmful. They can make you think that your restlessness will help you keep bad things from happening to you, avoid problems, prepare for the worst, or lead you to the solution by turning the subject a lot. It will be more difficult for you to break the habit of worrying if you think it is benefiting you in some way. When you realize that worry is not the solution but the problem, you can begin to control your mind.
Helpful tips for ending chronic worry
Fortunately, of psychology, we have some rules we can apply to reduce this level of concern.
1. Set a time to worry
Give your mind permission to worry, but only for the time you set. When negative thoughts appear, you should postpone them, not avoid them, otherwise leave them for later. Set a schedule, which should be the same for each day (for example, coffee time from 3:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.), during this time you can give vent to your negative thoughts, but outside of “ this time will be strictly forbidden.
Write down your concerns. When you are assaulted by a negative thought, write a short note and continue with your tasks. You will have time to think about it later, so you don’t need to do it anymore.
Read the list of problems during the defined period. If what you’ve written still causes you discomfort, give yourself permission to think about it, but only for the time allotted to it. If, on the contrary, it seems to you that its intensity has disappeared, shorten the worrying time and enjoy the day.
2. Discuss with yourself the truth of your negative thoughts.
If you suffer from chronic worries, your worldview may be more threatening than it really is. For example, you can exaggerate the possibility of things going wrong, imagine the worst-case scenario, and take the veracity of our ideas for granted. You may also underestimate your ability to deal with everyday problems. and suppose you won’t know how to handle them. These types of thoughts are known as cognitive distortions, including:
- Thinking that everything is white or black, whatever the happy medium. “If things aren’t going well, it’s because I’m a complete disaster.”
- Generalize for the simple fact of having had a negative experience, believing that it will always be the case. “I didn’t have this job; I will never work again.”
- Give too much importance to the negative things and despise the positive things. “I incorrectly answered the last question on the exam; I’m stupid.” Point out mistakes and forget about successes.
- Despise the successes achieved. “The presentation was a success, but it was all luck.”
- Wait for the worst to happen. “The pilot said we were going through an area of turbulence; the plane crashed.”
- Blame yourself for what you had to do or what you didn’t do and punish yourself with constant blame. “I didn’t have to strike up a conversation with her; I’m an idiot.”
- Label yourself for the mistakes of the past. “I’m a disaster, I’m bored; I deserve to be alone.”
- Take responsibility for events that are beyond your control. “It’s my fault he had this accident; I had to remind him to drive slowly.”
How to refute these thoughts
When you feel harassed by these thoughts, ask yourself the following questions:
- What proof do I have that this is true? And that they are not?
- Is there a more positive or realistic perspective to see the situation?
- How lucky is this thing that scares me to end up happening? If the risk of this happening is low, what is most likely to happen?
- Is this thought helpful? Does this help me one way or another?
- What would you say to a friend who shared this concern with me?
3. Distinguish what has a solution from what has no solution
There are studies that show that while you are busy worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious.. Reversing the problem makes you feel like you are doing something to fix it. But worrying and fixing something are two very different things.
Problem solving involves assessing the situation, specifying the steps to follow to deal with it, and then launching the action plan. No matter how much time you spend thinking about the worst that can happen, it doesn’t prepare you any better to fight it, if it does end up happening.
Does your problem have a solution?
A resolvable problem is one that allows you to take immediate action to resolve it.. For example, if you are worried about your bills, you can call your creditors and renegotiate the deadline with them.
Worries that lead nowhere are those that do not allow you to take action or that are intractable. “What if I ever get cancer? What should I do if my son has an accident?”
- If you have a solution, brainstorm with all possible solutions Let them come to you. Focus on the things you can change and put aside the things that are beyond your control. Once you have assessed your options, start the action plan. Once you have a plan and start executing it, you’ll feel a lot better.
- If you don’t have a solution, accept the uncertainty. If you are suffering from chronic worries, the worries will surely be like this. By worrying, you have the feeling that you can predict what the future holds for you and thus avoid any unpleasant surprises. But it doesn’t work that way. Thinking about things that can go wrong doesn’t make life more predictable. Focusing only on the worst that can happen keeps you from enjoying the good times of the present. You must fight against your need to be in control and seek immediate answers.
4. Break the vicious circle
When you suffer from chronic worry, you feel that your thoughts are spinning in an eternal wheel, that you are out of control, that you are going mad, or that the weight of anxiety will eventually crush you. But you can follow these steps to break that anxiety spiral and give yourself a break:
Exercise. Moving your body releases endorphins, which help relieve tension and stress. Focus your attention on how you feel when you run, dance, walk, your breathing and the rhythm of your heart.
- Sign up for yoga or tai chi classes. These oriental disciplines keep you focused on the present, help you clear your mind and encourage well-being.
- Breathe deeply. When you are worried, your breathing quickens, resulting in more serious images of anxiety. By practicing deep relaxation exercises, you can calm your mind.
5. Share your concerns
This may seem like a very simple solution to you, however talk to a trusted friend or family member who listens to you carefullyWithout judging or criticizing yourself, this is the most effective way to calm your anxiety. When you see that you are about to fall into a downward spiral, verbalizing your worries will help make them seem less serious.
Staying inside will only magnify and end up being overwhelming. Sharing them with someone you trust will help you see them in perspective. And if your concerns are justified, maybe someone else’s gaze will help you find the solution.
6. Practice mindfulness
Worrying usually involves focusing on the future: what can happen and what you could do to avoid it.. Or in the past: berating yourself for what you said or did wrong. Mindfulness allows you to focus on the present and therefore to free yourself from worries.
- Recognize and observe your concerns. Don’t try to ignore them or fight them, just watch them as if you are an outside observer, without reacting or judging.
- Let them go. You will notice that when you are not paying attention to these thoughts that appear suddenly, they will eventually disappear like clouds in the sky blown by the wind.
- Keep your focus on the present. Focus your attention on how your body feels, your breathing, and the thoughts that enter thought, if you get stuck in any of them bring your attention back to them.
- Do it daily. Mastering this technique takes time, so don’t be discouraged if you have trouble controlling your negative thoughts at first. Just breaking them off and coming back to it will help you strengthen the routine and create the habit of breaking the worry spiral.
7. Go to a professional
Psychological health professionals can help you better understand the causes and triggers of your concern. Outraged, they will offer you tools adapted to your case so that you can work on these emotional blockages until you regain control of your present and your future.