Worrying about things beyond your control can be a common source of stress and anxiety. Most people worry sometimes, but if it's affecting your life more dramatically there are things you can try that may help.
From mindful mediation to challenging negative thoughts, we spoke to the experts about how to stop worrying.
Table of Contents
1. Be aware of what you can do
Some things are within our control and some things are not. It's important to recognise which camp our worries fall in to. Understand that certain outcomes are simply beyond your control, and focus on directing your energy toward things you can influence.
"Sometimes we can become overwhelmed when we worry about things we can't control. The most powerful thing you can do is let go of control," Melissa Day, therapist and speaker at the Celebrating Strengths – Men's Retreat, tells Country Living.
"Once you do this, you'll experience true freedom. Become mindful of what you can do. We can only do things with what we have. Start to use positive self-talk, by noticing all the brilliant things you do everyday, for yourself and anyone else around you."
2. Let go of what you can’t control
Letting go of what you can't control enables you to regulate your emotions, which is especially helpful if you struggle with feeling the need for control. Acknowledge that there are things beyond your control, such as other people's actions, external circumstances, or global events. Accepting this reality is an important step in shifting your focus to what you can influence.
"Whilst we have many reasons to be optimistic, the future can feel uncertain. Accept that change happens all of the time anyway and be open-minded. If things don't go to plan straight away, take a deep breath and try to keep your options open," Dr Lynda Shaw, a neuroscientist, business psychologist and change specialist, says.
3. Challenge negative thoughts
Amid the endless loop of worry, you may find it useful to step back and question the validity of your thoughts. Where is the evidence? Have you confused a thought with a fact? Would what a friend say about your thoughts? The NHS suggests "exploring other ways of looking at the situation," while the experts at Purple House Clinic recommend not giving power to upsetting thoughts.
"In becoming aware of your thoughts, you can work on accepting them or reframing them, reminding yourself that your thoughts are not facts and helping yourself to rationalise your perspective on a situation," Dr Hayley Poole, clinical psychologist and clinical director at The Purple House Clinic, says.
"Not giving power to your upsetting thoughts and keeping the circumstances in perspective can help you manage your worries, and therefore your mindset."
4. Practice mindfulness and living in the present
Mindfulness involves being fully present in the current moment. Engage in activities that help you stay grounded, such as meditation, forest bathing, cold water swimming, deep breathing exercises, or simply paying attention to your senses in the present moment.
Chengi Tobun, from Black Swan Relationship Academy, suggests: "Practice being in the present moment by first following your breath as you breathe in and out – this will bring you back into alignment and clear your mind. Asking yourself what is missing in this moment will bring the mind from a 'fake future' into the present reality where you are usually actually safe.
"Coming back to the present will regulate your nervous system and buy you some peace of mind to explore your concerns in a state of emotional sobriety helping you to come up with quality solutions."
More mental health advice:
5. Limit exposure to triggers
Set boundaries for yourself and prioritise your mental health. If certain news, apps, social media, conversations or events trigger worry or anxiety, consider reducing your exposure. Pay attention to how you're feeling and know that saying no is OK.
"Writing things down has always been a great way to help focus our minds. Although it is a simple act, writing down our thoughts and feelings is a great way to make sense of what we are experiencing and can open up new ideas regarding coping or ways forward," adds Dr Hayley.
6. Seek support
And finally, share your concerns with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. Talking about your worries can provide a fresh perspective, emotional support, and potential solutions.
"There are many self-help resources out there and it is about finding one that works for the individual," continues Dr Hayley. "From guided meditation where you can visualise positive, peaceful scenarios to promote a calmer state of mind to learning breathing techniques to help slow your thoughts and physical reactions down, there are a whole host of strategies you can try to help manage your mindset."
If you are still struggling, head to your local GP or call the NHS on 111 for further help.