5 Ways to Stop Worrying

Here are five ways to deal with worry in your life:

1. Accept uncertainty.

Oftentimes, worry can be a persistent fear of the unknown. But what's so great about certainty?

Think of those movies in which characters ask to know the future of their lives from an all-knowing oracle, only to then feel like prisoners of that knowledge. Ask yourself some questions: Is it possible to be certain about everything in life? How could uncertainty be helpful? If you are imagining the worst case scenarios just as a matter of course, try envisioning a range of outcomes, from good to bad to just acceptable; all are equally probable.

2. Set aside a worry time.

Worry wart ways won't be undone in a moment, so allow yourself the time and space in your life to worry. Maybe you ought to give yourself 15 minutes on your morning commute. Postpone all worries that spring up at other times in the day by noting them and coming back to them during the worry time. The idea is to confine your worry to one brief part of your day so that your concerns aren't stretching to fill every waking moment.

3. Challenge your thoughts.

There is a stream of mental chatter taking place in our minds that we take as truth. Some of it is ("the sky is blue"); a lot of it isn't ("You're never going to amount to anything"). When you're having worrisome thoughts, grab a hold of them and look at them with a critical eye. What's the evidence that this thought is true? How about untrue? What's a more realistic version of this thought? Is this worry serving me in any way? Compartmentalizing and challenging our thoughts can be enormously helpful in robbing those worries of their power over us.

4. Keep a worry journal.

Some people find it helpful to write out their concerns as a way to see them in black and white. This can create a single space for you to practice all these tips. As you catalog each concern, consider the uncertainty of the situation, the possible outcomes, and challenge the worries themselves.

5. Consciously relax.

If you're giving yourself permission to worry, you sure as heck better give yourself the time to relax, too. Take a few deep breaths, call a friend, get out of your head and into your body by stretching, spend a few minutes reading a book that calms you, or soak in the bath. Whatever most relaxes you, make sure that you're practicing those anxiety-reducers every day. And don't think of it as "indulging" or "luxurious." Five minutes to breathe deep and relax each day is just a necessary part of self-care.