If you have ever had a problem with excessive anxiety you know how debilitating it can be. When anxiety is serious it can really steal our joy and impact our ability to live a full and meaningful life.

We may be genetically predisposed to anxiety, though most often anxiety is caused by our thinking, particularly excessive worrying.

There might be feelings of fear and dread, and apprehensive expectations and thoughts about the future.

Someone with anxiety may tend to assume the worst is going to happen and constantly focus on all the things they “must,” “should,” and “need” to do.

If this is something you struggle with, here are some strategies to help you overcome excessive worry and anxiety.

Make Worry Time

When we go through the day worrying it can be very distracting. Dedicate 15 minutes each morning or night for worry time. This is where you get to worry your head off and deal with all the uncertainties that may be causing you concern. Since you know you will have this time it can help to eliminate worry throughout the day.

It can also be helpful to start a worry journal.

This is where you set time aside each day to write your concerns and worries. When we can write out our concerns and worries we are better able to process them. It can help us gain awareness about what we are actually worrying about and what we can do about them.

Eliminate irrational worries

Make a list of all the things you worry about. From this make a table with what you can control and what you can’t control. From this list you can begin to realize which worries you can actually problem solve and deal with, and which worries are idle and irrational when it comes to making any changes.

90% of what we worry about will never happen, and the other 10% we can find a solution for.

If you can’t do anything about it why worry? You may need to find some way to distract yourself from these worries or develop some positive self-talk to counter these negative thoughts.

Focus on the present

Many people spend a great deal of time worrying about future. We may constantly say “What if this bad thing happens?” “What if that doesn’t go as I expect?”

Spending time obsessing over upsetting possibilities in the future will only prevent us from making positive progress in the present.

Learn to be mindful of your thinking and stay in the present moment. You are not a fortune teller so don’t get lost in the endless trail of “What if’s?”

Expose yourself to what you’re afraid of

There is no better way to overcome a fear than to confront it and face it head on. This doesn’t mean we have to jump in completely and consume ourselves with what we fear, but we can take small steps to recognize that our fears aren’t so powerful.

The more you avoid your fears the more power it has over you. When you start to take action and deal with the fear you will begin to see how your fear was unnecessarily holding you back.

Anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion when it motivates us to action, but if we aren’t careful it can take a toll on our health, sour relationships, cripple our performance, and interfere with our happiness.

Photo credit: Mills Baker

 


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    Last reviewed: 9 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). How to Break Your Worry Habit and Overcome Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/09/how-to-break-your-worry-habit-and-overcome-anxiety/

 

 

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