When you spend as much time inside your head as we introverts do, your mind starts to turn against you. It begins to fixate, and ruminate. No matter how much you tell yourself to stop worrying, you can’t shake the feeling that something is amiss.
After all, worrying leads to anxiety. You feel a diffuse sense of dread that sucks the air from your lungs and leaves a pit in your stomach.
While extroverts might call a friend to talk about their worries, or fill their schedule with a ton of social activities to distract themselves, introverts tends to internalize our anxiety. You are more likely to sit alone with your worries and feed them until they grow out of control.
Both introverts and extroverts can turn to addictions in an effort to stop worrying. And I’m not just talking about drugs and alcohol. Television, social media, and video games are just a few of the ways that you might try to numb your anxious thoughts.
The problem is that these distractions are only temporary, and they can actually fuel your anxiety. There are healthier and much more effective ways to stop worrying and find mental peace.
6 Tips to Stop Worrying and Relieve Anxiety
1. Choose solutions over suppression
Trying to suppress and ignore your worries doesn’t work. Even if you manage to banish the negative thoughts, you still feel anxious. What works better is to try to come up with solutions to your worries.
If you are worried about money, for example, write a long list of all the ways that money could come in. If you are worried about your relationship, look at what you can do to improve the situation, instead of wishing that your partner will change.
2. Have a designated worry time
The reason why chronic worrying can be so stressful is because it seems inescapable. After all, you can’t take a break from your brain. What you can do is train your brain to only worry during a specific time of the day.
Set a timer and only allow yourself to worry for 30 minutes after work. If worries creep in outside the designated time, make a conscious effort to redirect your thoughts.
Positive affirmations and visualizations can do the trick. You can also create a collection of happy thoughts that you put on replay when you are worrying:
- memories of happy times with friends and family
- thoughts about a person you love
- a mental recap of your favorite moments of the day
3. Surrender control
Most of your worrying stems from the sense that you don’t have control over your current circumstances or the future. Sometimes, you can regain control by coming up with solutions, but often you simply have to accept uncertainty.
It will feel good to surrender. It’s nice to let go for a while and know that the world will keep spinning, even if you relinquish the vice grip you have on it. In fact, things will probably go more smoothly when you stop white knuckling your way through life.
You might wonder how to surrender. It begins with a deep exhale. Just let all that air out. While you’re at it, let your shoulders drop and feel the weight of all your expectations melt away. Imagine yourself flowing with the rivers of change, instead of against them. Allow the answers to come to you, instead of constantly reaching for them.
4. Make a list of best-case scenarios
When you worry, you tend to focus on worst case scenarios. This can be helpful to a point. But when anxiety starts to set in, it’s important to shift your thoughts. You can do this by making a list of best-case scenarios. The longer the list, the better, so get creative with all the possible positive outcomes that could happen.
5. Take back your power
I know I just said that surrendering is important, but that doesn’t mean that you should feel helpless. Learning to stop worrying is a matter of accepting what you can’t control, while acknowledging the power you do have over your circumstances. Ask yourself:
What would it feel like to have infinite power and wisdom to create anything I want?
Next, strike a confidence-boosting power pose. My favorite is to stand up straight and raise my arms to the ceiling to form a V.
6. Adopt a spiritual practice
Even if you’re not religious, spiritual practices and concepts, such as prayer, meditation, and gratitude can help you stop worrying and feel more at peace.
I used to be very religious, but nowadays I consider myself more New Age. I like to mix and match self-help techniques, and mindfulness, with a sprinkle of old school Christian practices, like prayer.
For me, nothing calms the soul like having an honest, humble conversation with God. Even if you don’t fully believe in God, it’s nice to know that someone out there might be listening, and that you don’t have to carry the burdens of life on your own.
I’m laughing so hard right now!!! Just had another bout with neurosis. They say that “Neurosis” is a mild mental illness involving excessive fear and anxiety. Lately, I’ve actually been asking people to pardon me, “Because you know I’m neurotic.”
What hurst is when they actually validate, “Yes…I we all know you are neurotic (pit in the stomach feels like it’s been kicked, but I’m the one that opened the door, right? Sigh).”
Actually…I might just be a bonafide Neurotic, but in my defense, I’d say…it’s a situational condition. Yes, LIFE has been my condition, and what I’ve been conditioned through has definitely taught me there are concrete things to be fearful of and anxious about the WHOLE TIME (grinning).
In life these days, there are many industries, groups, communities and institutions implementing hard line drives that inherently foster dishonesty and in-authenticity in their respective areas and specialties, scope and missions. Participating in such human necessities (as people must to earn a living, stay safe and connected) can lead to fraud of the government, being perceived as not caring and by proxy…grossly negligent; there are any number of leadership attitudes and beliefs that are not congruent with higher ideals of safety, best practice, justice…fairness…compassion or human empathy. There are strong people with powerful abilities to malign anyone who presents an idea that opposes any kind of change regardless of good or even exalted intention. This last one…to have a reputation slandered? NOT NICE. IT HAPPENS. Monica Lewinsky was a good example.
See? Lot’s for me to be neurotic about (and since I am claiming the title, perhaps one might assume…perhaps…maybe…what I’ve described as possible reason people might be anxious is that possibilities can be made quite real. After all, another defining characteristic is what I wrote about neurosis is “It does not deviate from reality as a psychosis would indicate.”
For the Neurotic (the one in great fear and anxiety) is actually seeing something very real about which he (Or she) is responding to real time.
Michaela, Thanks for the article! It is much appreciated. What I like most about your article is that you gave concrete examples of the six things that can help relieve anxiety. I’ve tried some, but not all. These days I think I need to try and do them all!! Thanks so much. Great resource!