How to Change Your Worried Mindset & Live More Freely
An old phrase perfectly describing worry is “borrowing trouble.” You’re preparing for something that may never happen, and by expending energy and time towards an unlikely situation, you’ve lost time and peace of mind. That’s just one immediate consequence of worry.
Chronic worry can interfere with sleep, concentration and appetite, as well as negatively impact your relationships and your sense of self and well-being. In the hopes of being prepared for the worst, you have already visited some of it on yourself.
But a worried mindset isn’t a permanent condition. You can change your thought patterns and choices to alter this seemingly hardwired approach to life.
Change your thinking. The first step to changing a behavior like worry is to change your thoughts. This may seem impossible at first, but by practicing thought awareness, you’ll see results quickly.
Develop worry awareness. Make yourself aware of when you’re feeling anxious or upset by noting any thought patterns or physical symptoms like nervous stomach, perspiration, tight muscles or racing heartbeat. You can’t correct faulty thinking without first being aware of it.
Challenge the worry. Stop and consider what you’re worried about. How likely is this problem to happen? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Is this a reasonable fear? Many times simply stopping and considering the worried thought will be enough to allay it.
Replace chronic worries with positive thoughts. If you have recurring worries, come up with counter-thoughts. For instance, if you worry about work, going into an anxious spiral over it, develop a simple “replacement” thought. “I’m doing my best at work and have nothing to be concerned about. Everyone has some bad days.”
Additional Anti-Worry Strategies
- Journal regularly. Focus daily on a positive thought.
- Schedule worry time. When worries crop up, remind yourself that you’ll think about that later. Set a time each day to allow yourself to worry, recording your fears so that you can thoughtfully consider anything you can do to help the situation.
- Practice a let-it-go attitude. Some concerns fall outside your control. With those, you need to trust things will work out, and any difficulties will be surmountable. For example, you can’t control the weather for a big event, but you can have a backup plan in place.
- Meditate. Meditation can help you strengthen your mind to ward off worry and find relaxation that eases anxieties.
- Make exercise and sleep priorities. These will reduce anxiety naturally.
- Take a walk, watch a favorite movie or indulge in a hobby. Having time to unwind, focus on positivity and the things you enjoy can be a powerful deterrent to worry.