As humans, worrying is something that comes naturally to us. We are wired to anticipate danger and prepare for worst-case scenarios. However, constant worrying can take a toll on our mental health and overall wellbeing.
Here, we will provide tips on how to stop worrying about things you can’t control, helping you to improve your wellbeing.
Why do we worry?
Worry and fear are natural responses to perceived threats or dangers. They are our brain’s way of trying to protect us from harm. They trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response to keep us safe.
However, sometimes our worries and fears can become excessive, disproportionate to the situation and maladaptive (they are no longer serving a purpose). When this happens, it can lead to anxiety or other mental health problems.
Find out more about the differences between worrying, fear and anxiety.
Signs you worry too much
Worry is a normal, short-term feeling of concern or unease, generally experienced in response to a specific problem or situation. Worrying is different from anxiety, which is a more persistent feeling of unease or apprehension, that’s not necessarily tied to a specific problem. This can persist for a long time and isn’t easily resolved.
If you’re regularly experiencing symptoms of anxiety, this could be a sign that your worry has become out of control and that you’re worrying too much. Anxiety symptoms can include:
- Excessive and chronic worry – a persistent feeling of worry or fear that interferes with daily life and is difficult to control
- Physical symptoms – anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, chest tightness or pain, sweating, trembling, dizziness or shortness of breath
- Restlessness or feeling on edge – feeling restless, irritable or easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating – anxiety can make it hard to focus or concentrate on tasks, leading to decreased productivity or performance
- Sleep disturbances – anxiety can interfere with sleep, leading to difficulty falling or staying asleep, or experiencing nightmares
- Panic attacks – panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort that can cause physical symptoms such as chest pain, sweating or shaking
Struggling with spiralling thoughts, or find your anxiety leads to overthinking? Priory CBT Therapist Charlie Carroll gives 5 takeaways to overcome overthinking.
How to stop worrying about things you can’t control
Worrying about things you can’t control can be draining. Over time, it’s likely to have a negative impact on your wellbeing.
Learning how to stop worrying about things you can’t control can be a challenging task. However, it’s a really important step in managing anxiety and improving your overall mental health.
If you’re a chronic worrier, here are some tips to help you stop worrying about things you can’t control:
- Practise mindfulness – mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. It helps you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement and without becoming overwhelmed by them. Mindfulness can help you break free from negative thought patterns and bring more peace into your life
- Challenge your thoughts – often, our worries are based on irrational thoughts and assumptions. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if they’re based on facts or assumptions. If they’re assumptions, ask yourself what evidence you have to support them. If you can’t find any evidence, you might be worrying for nothing
- Connect with others – talking to others can help you gain perspective and feel less alone in your worries. Reach out to friends or family members and share your concerns. Remember, it’s often said that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’
- Limit your news consumption – news can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get caught up in negative stories. Limit your news consumption to a certain amount of time each day and focus on positive news stories as well
- Distract yourself – find activities that distract you from your worries such as reading, exercising or listening to music
- Surround yourself with things that bring you joy – these might be friends, family, hobbies, or a pet. Incorporate as many of these things into your day-to-day life as possible. This will help you to feel calmer and more positive
- Look after yourself – eating a balanced diet, exercising, drinking plenty of water and trying to get enough sleep at night are all good ways to cope with anxiety. Looking after ourselves physically can help us to feel better and more positive mentally
- Practise acceptance – accept that there are some things you can’t control. These might include things like the cost of living crisis, rising inflation, political unrest and war. There’s no benefit to spending time and energy worrying about things that we have no influence over. Instead, try to focus on what you can control. These can include things like looking after yourself, eating well, getting enough sleep and trying to spend some time in nature every day
- Get professional support – if your worrying is getting out of hand and is having a negative impact on your quality of life, it’s important that you reach out for professional anxiety treatment
Treatment for anxiety
Treatment for anxiety usually consists of a combination of talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and medication. You might also benefit from third wave CBT techniques such as mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy.
At Priory, we can help you to stop excessive worrying and improve your wellbeing. We can also teach you some effective relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to help you to cope better when you're feeling anxious. Our experts will work with you to devise a tailored treatment plan, supporting you to get back on track.
Ultimately, worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. You don’t have to struggle with worrying and anxiety; help is available and you can make a full recovery.
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0330 056 6020 or submit an online enquiry form here.