How to Stop Worrying Now

Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC

Worry is a useless emotion because it doesn’t help anything.  It is a complete waste of time and energy because it doesn’t change anything. Worrying does not prevent negative events from happening, nor does it result in positive outcomes.

Instead, it creates deadly symptoms and health problems such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Memory loss and damaged brain cells
  • Increased abdominal fat
  • Other diseases, such as cancer

I have spent a good portion of my life worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and situations I have absolutely no control over. However, over the past 7 years, I have gotten much better at stopping this bad habit. I have come to realize that it is not only a complete waste of time, but it is a harmful way to expend my energy.  How have I been able to do this?

Here are a few tips that I use and share with my clients:

  1. Notice when you are worrying.
  2. Ask yourself if you have some control or influence over the situation.
  3. If you have some control or influence, then take action to do something about it.
  4. If you don’t have any control or influence over it, remind yourself that worrying will do no good, and say the Serenity Prayer (see quote below).
  5. Argue with yourself by asking what proof you have that this negative event will happen.
  6. Identify alternative possibilities besides the negative outcome you think may happen.
  7. Realize that the negative outcome you imagine is only one possibility and probably has a low probability of actually occurring.
  8. Put your thoughts and energy on something that brings you positive emotions: someone you love, a favorite memory, etc. Focus on that feeling for 15-20 seconds, while visualizing breathing through your heart.

By taking these steps each time you catch yourself worrying needlessly, it will undo the negative effects of stress and worry and put you in a better state of mind. Soon it will become a positive habit that prevents harmful stress symptoms and makes you feel much happier. It will also make you feel more in control of yourself during a time when many things are beyond our control.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr

“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” – Victor Frankl

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