Do You Constantly Worry? 7 Tips to Help You Cope Better
Someone I know very well one day turned to me and said that nothing good ever happened to her. She really believed that to be the case and looked incredulous when I challenged her by offering a few examples of familiar kindnesses and good manners than often come our way.
She reflected and then acknowledged that her perspective had become skewed to a perpetual negative wavelength. It was only then that she realised how hard-wired she'd become to constantly worry and anticipate bad things, so losing the ability to notice any good.
For some people worrying is a way of life. They constantly worry about what might happen, what might go wrong. Even when everything's going well they worry, 'what if it doesn't last?' This state of hyper-vigilance may have been learned in childhood, where their home life was a constant round of checking, fretting and anxious behaviour. Or they may have been the recipient of endless criticism and so learned to constantly worry as they monitored themselves in order to avoid falling short.
Whilst there's a role for being prepared for most eventualities, automatically expecting the worst can become a habit. Perspective is the key to living a happier, more optimistic life. This doesn't mean wearing rose-tinted glasses, being naive or excusing bad behaviour but being hard-wired to constantly worry means that we're programmed to always tune in to potentially negative signals.
Even people in therapy who are doing really well, coping much better with daily life, confidentially and efficiently handling unexpected challenges can sometimes struggle to let go of worry, especially in stressful situations. Worry may have become an automatic default which is all too easy to revert back to. It's almost an insurance policy; by staying on full alert nothing bad can slip by and catch them unawares. It's a control issue; if they relax things might go haywire and then chaos will take over.
We need to reassure ourselves that we've all had experience of recovering from worrisome setbacks. We've dealt with rejection, not winning the prize or being last to be chosen for a team. We've survived those experiences and learned from them. It's often setbacks that teach us the most; we learn how resilient we can be, that it's okay to accept help, share our feelings and, most of all, how to find alternative solutions and be flexible in our thinking. Setbacks bring valuable lessons.
We attract what we expect and can often alleviate an unfortunate or negative outcome by being more upbeat and optimistic. Remember those times when you've met someone who's tense, anxious or stressed; it puts us on edge too. But being with someone who's calm and comfortably in control allows us also to relax and feel more at ease. Things usually work out better then.
It's even possible to turn a negative situation around by ignoring or refusing to be sucked into worry, stress or tension. Well-placed good humour, assertiveness and positive language can sometimes override or deflect a potentially fraught situation into something more manageable or even pleasant.
Having a different approach to worry, where we accept that we're concerned rather than worried, helps us treat potential problem areas as stepping-stones along the way. It can open up a whole new way of looking at ourselves and the world.
7 tips to help you cope better;
- Start to appreciate that your worries may be someone else's words; it's their insecurities and fears which you've absorbed and are carrying with you. You're not your parent or teacher who used to handle situations in that way. Determine to break the cycle now.
- Recognise your triggers for worrying and, at that point, intercept or distract yourself. When you're tired or stressed find ways to treat yourself better with breaks, exercise, fun or healthy food.
- Be proactive and challenge worries by refusing to follow a 'what-if' route. Often fear, guilt and embarrassment accompany worry. Listen to other people talking and you'll find that almost everyone shares the same concerns. You're not alone.
- Consider hypnotherapy. It's a powerful, yet respectful way of dealing with unwanted habits and responses. It can help you become calmer and more confident, able to manage stress and become the best version of yourself.
- Break larger worrisome situations into bite-sized chunks. Big tasks or problems can often be broken down into smaller, more manageable parts. Set the wheels in motion by tackling each element, one piece at a time and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
- Use lists. Clear your mind by noting down everything that worries you. The first list may take some time! Then tell yourself to stop worrying; everything's on paper, you won't forget it. Add to and delete items as appropriate and practise being firm with your self-talk. This can be especially valuable before bed.
- Accept that no matter how much you plan, prepare and worry unexpected things will sometimes crop up to rock the boat. Over the years you've become resourced and experienced enough to deal with eventualities when necessary. For example, if your car broke down you'd have an automatic checklist that you could run through to help you resolve immediate concerns; does the car need to be moved, do I need to call someone and let them know, am I a member of a car rescue organisation?
Worry depletes your energy, humour and health. By sharing your concerns, accepting help and learning to treat yourself well you can start to manage your worries rather than have them manage you!
About Author -
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support. She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit