Worrying is a natural aspect of the human experience; we all worry from time to time. However, if left uncontrolled, it may have an impact on both your physical and emotional health.
But what precisely is causing concern? Worry is defined as distress induced by anything that could happen in the future. The source of your anxiety might be anything from a 30-minute presentation to getting a catastrophic health problem 20 years from now.
While there is no way to totally eliminate these beliefs, they can be considerably reduced in their harmful impact.
Here are seven strategies to have in your back pocket to relieve worry.
1. Indulge Into Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation entails concentrating your attention on the current moment. This can help keep your mind from racing. According to clinical psychologist Kevon Owen, mindfulness meditation is “intended to take you out of your head.” When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try these steps:
- Find a peaceful spot where you can unwind comfortably.
- Take a deep breath and close your eyes.
- Take note of your own ideas without putting judgement on them.
- Return to your normal breathing rhythm gradually.
- Allow your thoughts to pass for 10 minutes while sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.
2. Try Deep Breathing
“It may sound oversimplified,” Owen adds, “but raising your oxygen levels reduces the physiological impacts of worry on your body.”
In other words, your heart rate drops, your muscles relax, and your thinking slows down, all of which might help you relax. Several breathing techniques can assist generate a sense of calm, including:
Here’s a quick deep-breathing technique to try the next time you’re worried:
- Close your eyes and choose a comfortable location to sit or lie down.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, visualising a sensation of tranquillity permeating your whole body.
- Slowly exhale through your lips, picturing all of your anxieties and stresses leaving your body.
- Repeat this procedure as many times as necessary.
3. Practice Guided Imagery
Conjuring up calming pictures might be an effective approach to calm a speeding mind. It’s an effective method for improving your coping abilities. According to one 2018 study, nature-based guided imagery can help elicit good behavioural and physiological responses.
Try these strategies to battle negative thoughts the next time you feel tense:
- Begin by sitting or laying down in a comfortable posture.
- Take a few deep breaths and picture yourself in a tranquil, natural place, such as a forest or meadow.
- Visualise the scene using all of your senses, giving specific attention to the colours, scents, and noises. Do this for a few minutes.
- Count to three and then gradually open your eyes.
4. Perform Body Scan
When you’re anxious, it’s natural for your muscles to tense up. A body scan meditation will help you refocus your attention on your body and begin to relieve the tension you’re carrying.
- Begin by focusing your attention on your scalp, paying close attention to your feelings. Is there any stiffness or tightness there?
- Direct your focus from your scalp to your forehead, then to your brows, temples, ears, and so on.
- Continue scanning down your body gently. As you proceed, briefly sense each bodily component.
- Continue till you reach the tips of your toes.
- When you’re finished, twitch your fingers and toes and gradually open your eyes.
5. Engage Yourself In Conversations
Talking with someone who has had similar concerns or who knows your position can give much-needed affirmation and support. Sharing your problems with people who take the time to listen and understand what you’re going through is one of the finest ways to feel less alone.
Rather than bury your concerns, call a close buddy and arrange a coffee date. Tell them you simply need a moment to vent or talk things over. You may also be able to open up to people in your community. Religious figures, mentors, and wellness specialists are examples of this. You may also wish to seek the assistance of a qualified therapist.
6. Maintain a Diary
Keeping a diary of your anxieties might assist you in analysing and processing your emotions. Starting a worry notebook may be as simple as picking up a pen and scribbling a few pages before bed or anytime your mind feels restless during the day.
Simply jotting down your thoughts on an unpleasant issue may help you see things in a different way. Here are a few questions to consider as you jot down your concerns:
- What are you concerned about?
- What are your thoughts on the situation?
- How real are your concerns?
- What would be the worst-case scenario?
- Are there any specific measures you can take to address the source of your concern?
- If not, is it possible to let go of your anxiety?
7. Incorporate Exercise In Your Routine
You’ve likely heard it a million times, but exercise may have a big and good effect on your mental health. It does not have to be a strenuous gym session or a 10-mile trek. A 10-minute walk around the block might help to quiet an overactive mind.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for individuals aged 18 to 64, combined with two days per week of muscle-strengthening exercises. A 2019 research of 682 German recreational athletes found that athletes who met the 150-minute criteria had greater mental health than those who did not.
Can It Be Due To Anxiety?
Worrying is a natural habit that protects you from dangerous circumstances by increasing your vigilance. Assume, for example, that you are concerned about losing your job. As a result of this concern, you may enhance your performance, begin networking for new prospects or increase your savings.
According to clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD, these are all acceptable reactions to job security worries. So, when does your worry turn into anxiety? When it comes to worrying, albeit it might be a narrow line, you’ll discover that:
- You may divert your attention to another topic or work when it arises and passes without becoming obsessed.
- You may keep your anxieties in perspective.
- It may produce minor, transient stress.
- It happens as a result of actual occurrences rather than mental chatter.
- It might be beneficial in terms of motivating you to take action.
Anxiety, on the other hand, may:
- Persist even though you don’t want it to generate severe physiological sensations that have a detrimental impact on your quality of life
- Cause recurrent, unwelcome thoughts
- Result in worst-case scenario thinking
- May obstruct obligations and relationships
Physical Symptoms of Worry
As previously stated, the worry is usually accompanied by a small level of widespread physical strain. This tension is generally transient and has no lasting effect after the anxiety ends. It might include:
- Sweating due to elevated heart rate
- A warm sensation
- Tension in the muscles
When your worry turns into anxiety, you may experience more intense physiological feelings such as:
- Tightness in the chest
- Numbness and tingling
- Stomach pain
- Digestive issues
- Shortness of breath
An earlier 2008 research of 380 primary care patients found that those with gastrointestinal symptoms were five times more likely to have severe depression and four times more likely to have severe anxiety. According to 2014 research, 74% of primary care patients with generalised anxiety disorder have trouble getting and maintaining sleep.
When To Seek Help?
While it is natural to worry from time to time, excessive worry and anxiety can be harmful to your health. Consider obtaining professional assistance if your fears or anxiety begin to have a significant influence on your day-to-day life, such as your:
- Eating habits
- Sleep quality
- Relationships with others
- Performance at work or school
- Ability to care for yourself or dependents
You can begin by contacting your main healthcare provider for assistance. They can send you to a therapist or other specialist who specialises in coping with excessive worry. You might also try to find one on your own.
The Bottom Line
Understanding that worry is a natural aspect of being human is the first step toward lessening its impact. It’s normal to be apprehensive now and then, but when your worries become overwhelming or begin to interfere with your everyday life, it’s time to seek expert treatment. Try to be gentle with yourself at this time, and remember to schedule some time in your day for self-care.