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How to Stop Worrying so Much and Ease Your Anxiety

Let me ask you a serious question…

Can you name one thing in your life that was made better by worrying about it?

I’ll wait while you think about it…

But I’m pretty sure you can’t.

Because worrying doesn’t do anything for your problems. Except maybe it makes you feel worse about them?

Blonde male with freckles, standing in front of a body of water looking worried
Worrying gives me headaches, too

But if you’re anything like me, and my clients, and my friends… and most people pleaser perfectionists (PPP)I know… then you probably spend much of your time worrying about  a lot of things, especially about other people. Why do we do that?

Before we jump in, if you’re new here- hi! I’m Kaylin. I’m a holistic health coach and licensed therapist for over achieving millennials, who also happen to be people pleasers and perfectionists. And you know what those types of people do a lot of? Worrying. Ok, moving on…

People-pleasing perfectionists spend time and energy worrying because it feels like you are doing something. You might even get your heart rate elevated by worrying. Brains like to have a problem to solve. The brain is designed for survival, which means that it constantly needs to be on the lookout for threats- its a life or death situation every time. And when something is uncertain, when we don’t know the outcome? Your brain will assume it means death until it can solve the problem and make the situation mean survival.

Let’s take a common worry that many millennials have - money (This post was inspired by a line in a financial book that I’m reading right now).

Many millennials worry about having enough money, what to do with their money, how to invest, if we’ll be able to retire, if we’ll be able to own a home, etc… There’s a lot there! 

Sitting around, stressing and worrying about these things will get you absolutely nowhere. Your money will still be sitting in your account, not earning interest, not being spent, not doing anything for you… except existing and being available. 

What can help with your money concerns? Learning about it. Educating yourself and asking questions. Putting your money into high interest accounts where it can grow for you. Learning how to invest… and more. I am by no means a financial expert and I am in the constant process of learning for myself.

This is just one example. By taking action to learn about money, you can lessen your money worries. 

The most important thing is to focus on what you can control. 

My mom used to tell me that she would always worry about me when I was out with my friends. Did the worrying do anything for my safety? No. 

But you know what did do something for my safety and her sanity? Having me check in with her. Letting her know where I was and what I was doing. I wasn’t necessarily in her control, but we had a relationship that allowed her to ask me to provide information to her and I (mostly) obliged. That was in her control. 

Are you worried about your health? You can take action to improve it. 

Are you worried about the state of the world? You can take actions that align with your beliefs and values. 

There will always be something more productive to do than worry. I promise you that. 

How to stop worrying all the time

But what if you can’t get yourself out of the cycle of worry? Sometimes, when our brains are prone to certain thought patterns and with diagnoses like anxiety or OCD, it’s harder to just take action and stop worrying. 

Many people experience intrusive thoughts- unwanted and often unpleasant thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere and sometimes won’t go away. Often, your worries may turn into intrusive thoughts and seem to take over your mind.

The first and simplest way to deal with an intrusive thought is to remind yourself and to understand that it is just a thought. It doesn’t have to mean anything. Many of your thoughts are random and not actually related to the way you truly feel or believe. 

The practice of non-attachment can be helpful when you are worrying too much or finding meaning in your intrusive thoughts. Non-attachment means that you don’t give any particular meaning to thoughts or experiences, and you accept them for what they are. So for a worry-based intrusive thought, the practice of non-attachment would sound something like this: “I am experiencing an intrusive thought that makes me worry right now.” And then exploring that thought, or the feelings that the thought brings up. Non-attachment in this way is a mindfulness skill. It’s like watching the clouds go by. You don’t get mad or upset when it floats by, you just appreciate the shape it takes while you can see it, and then let it go. 

Another way to deal with worry is to write an “in my control” / “out of my control” list. Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. Label one side “In my control” and the other side “out of my control.” List whatever it is that you are worrying about in the appropriate list. You will probably find that there is a lot of shit outside of your control. AND - there is a lot within your control. Once you know what belongs where then you can start to take action on the things that are within your control. Once you start taking action, there is less of a need to worry. 

People pleasers and perfectionists tend to worry more about things that are out of their control. 

You can’t love someone into treating you right. You also can’t take care of someone and make them love you. 

Building confidence in yourself and increasing your self-worth can put a stop to all of that useless worrying about other people. You become less concerned with how other people think of you when you start to believe in and think highly of yourself. 

I’m not saying you’ll stop caring completely, but it won’t matter as much. You’ll stop trying to be what you assume others want you to be and you’ll start being who you want to be. You can be a loving and kind person without having to mold to the expectations of others - shocking, I know. 

What do I do if I’m not worried?

A very common but unconscious fear about breaking the cycle of worry is wondering what you will replace worrying with. Worrying is a mental habit that you've probably gotten really good at if you’re an overachiever, people pleaser, or perfectionist. Worrying has likely become a part of your personality. So who are you without worrying?

The good news is that you get to decide! This is a great thought experiment and journaling exercise- think about who you want to be, how you want to feel, and what you want to spend your time and energy doing if you stop worrying. 

Maybe you’ll get into painting or writing, because you won’t be too busy worrying about what other people think of your creations. 

Maybe you’ll go on more walks and enjoy the scenery. 

Maybe you’ll start baking bread or making your own kombucha at home.

Maybe you’ll just sit, relax and read a book. 

The point is that you will have extra time and energy and that you get to decide what to do with it. 

If you want to work with someone who can help you stop worrying so much, I can help! I'm a licensed therapist in California and an online health coach. My specialities are working with chronic stress and anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism. You can read more here and schedule a free consultation if you want to work together.

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