The key to stopping the worry cycle is confronting triggers and shifting your mindset. Engaging in mental and physical techniques that increase relaxation, meditation, and positivity reduces stress.
Worry is more than just anxiety over a one-time occasion; it can increase and become chronic. Worries can be over anything, ranging from a job to a family member or life in general. Life creates trying situations that often leave us questioning how we will react or how much it will affect us. Constant worrying creates anxiety and negative feelings, threatening emotional and physical health.
The Meaning of Worry
Worry means having concerning thoughts that are constantly running through the mind and are related to something specific. Worry could also be because of a gloomy, ominous feeling over something that might happen. The part of the brain in charge of our behavioral and emotional responses and processing, the limbic system, is the site of worry. Worry only occurs in humans, not animals.
Most people are worried about their health, major life changes, and work or school-related tasks. This leads to increased stress, which can cause sleepless nights. Insomnia decreases energy during the day and increases negative thoughts. One cannot rest properly, and the mind is actively living in worry. Constant worry reduces happiness and enjoyment and interrupts our everyday lives.
Constant or continuous worry is a sign of chronic stress that can turn into chronic worrying. The body responds to negative thoughts, but the mind doesn't provide a reason as to why. Exaggerated worry puts the mind in panic, fear, and nervousness, causing the outlook on life to be unbalanced and negative. Worry produces anxiety, and when those thoughts come into daily life, they can be felt in all areas of life, such as work, finances, and extracurricular activities that a person regularly engages in. Stress puts the mind in an unhealthy state, dangerous for emotional strength and energy levels that allow you to perform necessary tasks.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is a combination of worry and unease. Chronic worrying is a major symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). To be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, one must meet specific criteria like difficulty controlling or reducing worrying, excessive worrying for at least six months, and other physical symptoms caused by worrying like a tense jaw. This should not be confused for a minor, periodic worrying pattern which does not equate to GAD.
General Anxiety Disorder can negatively impact emotional and physical health. It causes insomnia, stomach problems, headaches, lack of concentration, and muscle tension, leading to feelings of agitation. You also might produce aggressive behavior when reacting to worry and taking your feelings out on the people around you or numb the pain by abusing drugs or alcohol.
Common Causes of Worry
Many things can trigger worry in a person's life and range in severity. Internal and external factors can cause them. Understanding the possible causes can make getting help and guidance and treating anxiety disorders easier.
Past or Current Trauma
Trauma can be a recent injury, domestic abuse experience, use of drugs and alcohol, or death in the family. It could also be the trauma of someone else you witnessed that didn't happen to you. Children who have witnessed or gone through an abundant amount of abuse and trauma experience anxiety disorders more than those with minor trauma. Individuals who have experienced trauma on multiple occasions are more prone to excessive worry because of the number of times they've been in traumatic situations.
Poor Mental Health
People attend social events less because they are stressed about interacting with others or worried that something terrible would happen. This can lead to social isolation and shutting the world away. Worrying excessively heavily affects the mind since thoughts of worries come from the brain.
Social anxiety makes going out, enjoying life, and making memories with friends and family difficult. You miss out on a lot due to poor mental health. The mind feels like a chaotic, loud mess, and positive feelings are from being felt. Mental health can also affect your hygiene, and cognitive performance, like problem-solving. Mental health issues such as depression can also trigger chronic worry.
Chores, work, or school responsibilities can weigh heavily on life's mental and physical aspects—long hours, dealing with difficult people, or multiple assignments to complete before a deadline. Worry triggers an idea that we can't finish or get through tasks or that time isn't on our side.
Health Conditions or Illnesses
Diagnosing illnesses, health scares, and a history of health conditions can cause severe worries. Many individuals worry about being sick even if they don't show symptoms. Health worries can be about oneself or a loved one.
Worry can affect the quality of life, causing health to worsen over time or within a short period. The body is put in fighting mode because of fear. The symptoms of excessive worry that can affect the body are headaches, panic attacks, an intense heartbeat, and issues with the immune and digestive systems. Fear puts a person's body in fight or flight mode.
How to Stop Worrying
Worry can lead to difficulties in being productive because it distracts a person from school, work, school, and social life. Anxiety consumes thinking. Here's how a person can lower worry levels.
Brainstorm a List of Worries
Confront worries head-on and schedule a period in the day to pay attention to them and have time to worry. This helps reduce stress and anxious thoughts and improves sleep quality. Start by picking a time of day to set aside around 20 minutes to sit down and worry. Give full attention and acknowledge all of your worries. You can write them down, think them in your head, or think aloud. Concentrating on your worries, you may realize those concerns were less serious than you thought.
The morning might be the best time to worry because it frees oneself of worry for the rest of the day. You don't have to carry any weight throughout the day. But worrying in the late evening is also great for clearing the mind of worries and shedding off the weight built up throughout the day.
Even with worry periods set, it can still arise outside of those scheduled times. This practice is meant to allow you to control your worries. This can help you stop worrying experienced throughout the day. Your mind is free to focus on more productive thoughts.
Create a journal on paper or electronic device, and use it daily to track what causes you distress. Mark where you were, your stress levels, and what led you to feel how you felt. Writing can occur anytime and range from a few words to full paragraphs. Carry your journal with you throughout the day. Address everything causing anxious thoughts, as journaling relieves stress and improves sleep quality.
Journaling is important because sometimes we don't realize we have chronic anxiety symptoms. Taking notes can help us figure out what triggers certain emotions and why. Worry patterns disconnect from our minds and soul, so daily monitoring is crucial for managing anxiety. Journaling can make you feel more relaxed and focused on meaningful things.
Talking with Someone
Calm down your stress, nerves, and anxieties by speaking directly with someone in your life. You can rationalize your feelings and ask for help or support from others. Ensure this is someone you feel comfortable opening up to and trusting. Talking to someone can help lower worry levels because you have released your thoughts from your mind. Worrying strays the mind away from deepening relationships with family and friends. Communicating with another person can help us feel less lonely and help us feel heard and seen.
Turning Away from Negative Thinking
Negative thinking is common when you are worried. You gradually start to feel like you are the problem and that nothing in your life will improve. One of the best ways to avoid negative thoughts is to exercise and get your body moving. It is a useful anti-depression therapy that releases endorphins and relaxes the body.
Moving away from environments or people that cause your negative thinking to persist is also a strong idea if you can do so. Those who suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will see their surroundings more dangerously. They deplete and engage in poor ways of stress management. You assume the worst-case scenarios and see everything in black or white, struggling to resolve or end your problems.
Concentrate on the negatives; why do you think you won't achieve your goals? Do you think you are worth nothing? Why don't you see a happy ending to this situation? You can start pointing to the opposite, positive situations by evaluating the negatives. There may be a positive side to you not getting a job at a certain company, or the resolution to a certain problem you're going through is easier when you think about solving it rather than focusing on the problem as it is.
How to Stop Excessive Worry With Mindfulness
Worrying for a short period reduces anxiety. Techniques distract your emotions and make it seem like you are achieving something. It brings a solution to the problem, sometimes involving assessing and identifying the issue.
Deep breathing helps you stop worrying about the future and will help you be more present. Take a large but slow breath, allowing air to fill the lungs and belly. Then, breathe out slowly through the mouth, or if you are uncomfortable, breathe out through the nose. When you are worried, your breaths aren't calm and may bring breathing difficulties or chest cramps, commonly seen in a panic attack.
Breathing exercises bring a sense of peace of mind. It can help you sleep better, wake up refreshed, and prevent the opportunity for panic attacks. Another deep breathing method is the 4-7-8 technique. As you count to four, breathe in slowly. Continue to do so until you get to seven. Exhale for a count, then repeat ten times.
Meditation is a great tool for improving concentration because it enhances relaxation and happiness. Meditation also distracts you from worrying, keeping you focused on your goals and tasks. It also stimulates left-brain activity when practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is an exercise that brings the mind, body, and soul into the present moment. Find a quiet spot to settle down in. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply. Pull your attention to your breaths and let go of thoughts about the future and past.
When someone exercises, it triggers positive feelings prompted by the chemicals called endorphins. It's a great way to relieve unpleasant emotions and improve physical and mental health by boosting self-esteem. Physical activity can be running, walking in your neighbourhood, playing sports, and going to the gym.
The body's muscles tighten when it feels stressed. This muscle tension is most seen in the jaw and shoulders, which may lead to chronic muscle stress, as it increases with worry. When you feel anxious, take a deep breath and pinpoint where on your body you feel tense. This creates a deeper connection between your mental and physical state. Start with looking down at your feet and focusing on the parts of your body towards your head. It will help you feel more grounded and stop worrying.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety?
The 333 rule is about using your senses to find presence at the moment and help you lower and cope with anxiety.
- Look around and name three things you see
- Identify three sounds you hear
- Move three bones on the arms, ankles, or finger, or touch the external objects.
This process helps you feel grounded in moments of extreme anxiousness. The 333 rule is a helpful and simple technique and a useful tool to manage overwhelmed feelings. The 333 rule is not a treatment, as it does not cure anxiety.
Why is it Hard to Stop Worrying?
Constant worry could be a symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Consult with a doctor or healthcare professional about a diagnosis. Anxiety affects mental well-being since that is the source of all brain activity, specifically the limbic system. Worry can continue so long that it becomes permanent. Chronic worry is focused on paying attention to an issue that is not a pressing issue most times and does not allow us to focus on the present moment.
Problems consume the mind, and we feel stuck in the positions stress puts us in. Sometimes constantly worrying and thinking about problems helps people resolve why they are worrying in the first place. Journaling, meditation, and exercising can help proactively reduce worry and anxiety. Learning to relax is better for your mental health and makes you happier.
How to Train the Brain to Stop Anxiety?
You control or decide what you think about. External forces may put thoughts in your head, but your body is the one that decides how to respond to those thoughts. It starts with training the brain to anticipate and tolerate the certainty of uncertainty.
The brain must be aware of your thoughts and feelings of worry to arise. Hence, the body develops an appropriate reaction. Try to brainstorm a solution for your worry right away. You have the power or control to change some things. For example, you could contact a financial advisor or create a budgeting plan if you are concerned about money. You have to be productive in your solution so your brain isn't full of anxious thoughts.