Four steps to stop worrying forever
Somewhere in my life, I picked up the habit of worrying. I don’t believe I was born a worrier, so I must have learned to worry from past experiences and watching others worry . If you, like me, have struggled with learned worry, we can also unlearn this debilitating habit.
No. 1: Designate one 15-minute period of Special Worry Time each day during which you will do nothing but worry. As worries come up during the day, jot them down, but do not worry about them. You’ll worry about them only during those 15 minutes.
No. 2: Take control of your mind. You have the ability to decide which thoughts you will dwell on. When nebulous, negative thoughts that you already added to your list of worries creep up again, send them away. Find an activity to do with your hands to redirect your thoughts.
No. 3: Set an alarm for Special Worry Time. When the alarm goes off, drop everything you are doing. Find a quiet place, where you can concentrate all of your thoughts and mental energy on your list of worries. As you focus on each worry and possible outcomes of the worry, write them down. Then, worry about those possible outcomes as well. Pour your heart into it. Worry nonstop for the full 15 minutes. Do not let any thoughts of peace, joy or happiness come to mind. When the 15 minutes are up, stop! There’s no more worrying allowed until this time tomorrow.
(Honestly, I doubt there will be another Special Worry session because you will quickly learn how exhausting and totally unproductive it is to worry.)
No. 4: Find a more productive alternative to worrying. Exercise is a great way to ward off worry. Call or message a friend or relative; if they are dealing with bigger worries or problems than you, you may get some perspective. If you are religious, talk to God; tell him what’s worrying you, for unlike you, he can do something about it.