Did you know that there are proven techniques and learnable skills that decrease a person’s worry? Are you ready to let go of all of the stress and discomfort that comes from a worried mind? If so, then this article is for you and we are cheering you on as you take these healthy steps towards creating a peaceful mind.
As we grow older and look back on our lives, many of us think; “I wish I’d worried less.” We begin to realize that worrying is not worth what it can cost: stress, tension, low quality sleep, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of unhappiness. We realize that most of the things we worried about never even came to pass, and that the associated, often daily mental anguish was unnecessary.
Many psychologists are masters at helping people understand the human process of worrying and at teaching them how to let go of their apprehensions in a healthy way. Everyone experiences worry at times, and it’s important to learn the skills that help us understand the process and help us to release it.
What is worry and why do we do it?
Worry is a state of cognitive distress due to a concern over an impending or expected occurrence, risk, or threat. Worry refers to the thoughts, images, and emotions of a fear-based nature that occur as the mind attempts to solve or avoid predicted “possible” dangers and their consequences.
While this evolutionary reaction helped to keep our ancestors safe from predators in the wild, it’s much less needed today. In today’s world, humans worry more about what to wear in the morning rather than how to avoid a tiger on the prowl.
When we are uncertain about a future outcome, we want to make sure it turns out well and often try to prevent anything from going against our expectations, or from going “wrong.” When we have a hard time dealing with the uncertainty of unknowns in the future, our minds can resort to repeatedly and stressfully playing out the situation in our heads, imagining every “what if” and how to handle it, in an attempt to control what seems like an unpredictable situation.
Yet stress can arise from too much of this worried repeated thinking, especially when the level of potential danger and the amount of worry are not in sync. For example, If a person sees a news story about a house cat attacking its owner, and is then afterwards too worried to leave their house because “they might encounter a house cat somewhere outside,” then their worry has reached an unhealthy level. It is not consistent with the reality of their current situation; that there is an almost 0% chance that a house cat will harm them. Worrying can amplify small and non-threatening situations, as well as cause a decent amount of stress to the mind, body and emotions, so it’s very important that we learn how to healthily manage it and let it go.
Here Are 10 Steps To Relax A Worried Mind According To Psychology:
1. Calm The Nervous System
It’s difficult to have clear and rational thought when the mind is racing with worry and anxiety, so the first step is to calm the nervous system. Make the conscious decision to set the worry aside for a few moments as you direct your focus towards the sensations in your body, and begin taking deep, long breaths. Studies have shown that both deep breathing and meditation are effective at calming the nervous system.
Take slow and deep breaths while counting slowly to three: 1… 2… 3… , then slowly let your breath out while counting 1… 2… 3… , and continue this calming practice for 5 to 10 minutes or until you can feel a degree of calm. Doing this will give you a healthy foundation to begin clearly seeing and reducing your worry.
2. Identify Exactly What Your Brain Is Trying To Protect You From
It’s common to not be entirely clear about what the brain is worrying about, but it’s important to get as clear and specific as possible. Ask yourself these questions:
- What exactly am I afraid of happening?
- How would this harm me?
- How likely do I think this situation will occur? Between 1% to 100%?
- Would my 5 closest friends agree with the percentage I chose of it possibly occurring, or would theirs be lower?
This exercise first helps us to face our fears by being clear about what they really are, and it also grants more awareness of our mind’s process which gives us more of a choice in how we respond.
Thank your brain for its old help of protecting you through worry, and then ask the worry to please be released and replaced with relief and unconditional love.
3. Be Softer With Yourself
Respect and love yourself for doing your best with your situation, and really forgive yourself for worrying. We all worry at times in our own ways. Relax. Begin using gentle ways to talk to yourself.
Ask yourself, “If I knew the solution would appear with ease and grace, what would I do differently?” This question in itself relaxes the grip that worry has and allows it to fade away. As the mind begins to relax, it becomes easier to see new possibilities and solutions.
4. Write Down What The Worst, Best, And Most Likely Outcomes Are
Take away the need for the emotional system to worry by consciously considering the full range of possible outcomes. When we feel mentally prepared, our level of worry and anxiety naturally decreases.
While the worst outcome written down might sound extreme, make sure to spend more time considering and writing down what the most likely outcome will be. The most likely outcome tends to be more realistic and less worrying than our feelings try to make them. Consciously getting our ideas out into plain sight with a realistic view and analysis can help to lower feelings of worry and anxiety: the mind starts to accept that maybe things aren’t as bad as we previously thought them to be, and it begins to relax and to let go of the need for worry.
5. Write Down What The Evidence Is For And Against Your Prediction
Just the feeling of worry itself can cause the mind to think that something bad will happen, even if that is clearly not the case. Negative predictions are often based on limited or biased information, resulting when the mind’s fight-or-flight response skips over needing all of the information before sending fear based signals to prevent possible danger (whether it’s real or not).
To prevent this information skip caused by heightened fearful emotions, go into depth on the topic of worry by writing down all evidence for and against the worry’s prediction. Weigh all of the evidence together. After everything has been noted, consider again what percent chance you think the worrying event has of happening. The more your mind is able to see that there is a highly possible chance of things turning out okay, the more feelings of relief and relaxation will come back into your mind and body.
6. Ask Yourself: Is Worrying Actually Helping You?
What are you hoping to get from worrying? How exactly will focusing on so many negative outcomes help you compared to focusing on the possible positive ones? We may think that worrying helps to prepare us, but isn’t it possible to prepare for something without stressing ourselves out with worry in the meantime? If we have a big exam coming up, worrying and stressing over it can actually decrease our ability to focus and effectively study for it. But relaxing and preparing for a good result while taking the time to study can keep our minds healthy and relaxed and able to effectively absorb and remember information.
Think back to all of the times you’ve worried in the past, and give some considerable thought to see if it has actually helped you or simply stressed you out in the past. For most of us, worry acts as a drain when challenges arise. It’s important to recognize and deal with with worry in healthy ways rather than ignoring it and continuing to feed it.
7. Acknowledge That You Aren’t 100% Certain Of The Actual Future
Can your worries really predict the future? As much as worrying can try to spell danger or say that something terrible might happen, it in fact does not know the future. It is not accurate in saying that something bad will happen. It is simply trying to prevent the possibility of something unfavorable happening.
Realizing this diffuses some of the strong fear-based feelings and beliefs that try to incorrectly convince the mind that danger is sure to happen. Most of our worries are simply that; just worries.
8. How Have You Coped With Similar Situations In The Past?
Worry comes when we think we can’t solve a possible problem if it occurs. Yet when fact-checking our own mind and emotional responses, it’s clear that we’ve solved and overcome countless challenges and obstacles in the past.
Think back to times you’ve successfully dealt with and handled worrisome situations, and remember all of the times that you’ve been able to cope with and get through challenges in a healthy way.
9. Consider How You Could Handle A Negative Outcome If It Did Occur
If a relationship ends, would the world be over, or would you be able to cope, regain a healthy balance, and still enjoy your life? If your presentation doesn’t go as well as planned, are you able to learn from it and practice techniques to do better next time? Humans are incredibly resilient, and chances are highly favorable that, with the right mindset, you can do a wonderful job at handling a negative outcome if it did occur. Remember your strengths and the ways you’ve coped in the past.
10. What Advice Would You Give To A Friend?
When a friend comes to you and asks for your advice on a problem they have, you’re likely able to stay focused and calm while giving them healthy and caring advice. If your friend came to you and asked for advice with your same set of circumstances, what intelligent and compassionate counsel would you offer your friend? Now take all of the wonderful and caring advice you just gave, and apply it to yourself.
Worry does not disappear overnight, and it can be challenging to take the time to practice every day the techniques that successfully help us to feel relieved and to let go of worry. But rest assured; with consistent and conscious practice, your worries are sure to melt away, and you’ll regain your sense of peace.
You are Loved.