Worrying causes stress which has both mental and physical consequences, but simply telling someone not to worry won’t make it stop.
We worry about things because we care.
We care a whole lot about how the situation will turn out or what choice another person will make.
If we didn’t care, it would be a whole lot easier to walk away and let whatever happen, happen.
So how do you turn down the stress of worrying without compromising your care and personal or professional investment in the matter?
Here are 5 ways to make your brain stop worrying according to science:
Get more sleep.
Not getting enough restful sleep causes a lot of health problems including: weight gain, high blood pressure, and stress.
Getting more sleep, or better sleep, will help reduce all of these health concerns and calm your worrying.
This can be difficult because the worrying is often what keeps you awake, but try some techniques to help you sleep such as: imagining that you put all your worries in a box and stow them away for tomorrow;
deep breathing and relaxation exercises before bed;
removing all blue screen devices such as TV, tablets, and phones from your bedroom;
having a specific bedtime routine to trigger your body and brain into understanding that it is time for sleep.
Go for walks.
Walking has many health benefits including reducing stress.
Going for walks outside will have the most positive benefits, but increasing your walking inside or at a gym will work, too.
Walking improves circulation and increases the oxygen we get to our brains.
Increased oxygen and blood flow relaxes the body and reduces stress and worries.
It also reverses the common physical symptoms of stress like high blood pressure and digestive troubles.
Caffeine, that wonderful ingredient found in your morning coffee or that tall soda you have at lunch, actually makes stress and worrying worse.
While it might be the morning pick-me-up you need, you probably don’t need three cups when one would do the job just fine.
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system—that’s that nice jolt you get that makes you full of energy and extra alert.
When you’re worrying, your nervous system is a nervous wreck, so extra stimulation increases your stress and heightens your mental and physical response to it.
You don’t have to cut out all caffeine, but reducing your intake to one cup of coffee in the morning and maybe a small drink at lunch will help greatly.
Making lists can help organize your thoughts so that you are worrying less and have it down on paper and out of your head.
Making lists can also help you see actionable steps to take that will reduce your stress.
Good lists to make are: pros and cons, timeline, to-do, task lists, etc.
Part of the reason that we worry so much is because we feel like the situation is out of our control.
Making lists, even if there is nothing to be done after the list is made, gives you some sense of control and understanding over the situation.
Better still is when the list gives you direction and actual action to take to positively and productively contribute to the situation that is causing you stress and worry.
Make a set time to worry.
It seems silly to schedule time out of your day specifically for worrying, but it can actually improve your productivity and reduce stress during the day, allowing you to focus more on the projects and tasks at hand.
Knowing that there is a set time when you will allow yourself to think about your worries will give you the space to push those thoughts aside for the time being.
Often, when worrying, it is a constant assault on your mind.
Worrying makes it hard to get done what you need to do because your mind is half-preoccupied with your worries.
Scheduling time to worry frees up your mind and still allows you the opportunity to work through your worries without repressing them or ignoring them (which NEVER works.)
Scheduling time also gives you the time you need to focus on your worries and work through what is stressing you out without being constantly interrupted, which only increases the worrying.
Worrying is part of the human experience.
As long as we care about people, situations, and the outcomes of interactions that we have we will always have something to worry about.
Luckily, utilizing the 5 simple, scientifically proven methods above will help you to stop your mind from worrying and reduce your stress.
You don’t have to stop caring, you just have to change your approach to your worries and it will drastically improve your health and your peace of mind.