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How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

Rachel Harder is a marriage counselor, life coach and therapist with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching who specializes in helping you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.  Learn more about Rachel.

Are You a World-Class Worrier?

Have you ever found yourself laying in bed and worrying: “Did I set my alarm?  What all do I need to get done tomorrow? Agh, I forgot I have a meeting! I hope my boss won’t say anything about that project. How will I have time to stop by the grocery store and get to the gym!? Maybe I should cut the gym out?” 

Well you get the picture, the worries, to-do lists, and questions can go on and on. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may be a pro-worrier. You may notice worrying is impacting your relationships and your overall happiness. So, put your to-do lists aside and take a deep breath! We’re going to talk about

dealing with worry and stress.

Let’s start with a little background about why stress can have such a big impact. Stress is a “normal,” biological, bodily response. It helps to trigger our “fight or flight” response, which protects us in potentially dangerous situations. This is great! It means your body is functioning effectively! What’s not great is when we experience this response over an extended period of time. This can negatively impact our nervous and immune systems.

When we practice strategies to reduce our stress and worry levels, it can also have a positive impact on how our bodies are functioning from a physiological perspective, improving overall wellness. Now let’s get to the good stuff. I’m reaching into my cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques tool bag to bring you Seven Skills for Stress. I use these with my therapy and life coaching clients all the time, and I know they work. Try using these to help mitigate some of that worry!

Seven Skills to Manage Stress

  1. Prioritize:Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worrying about how you will accomplish all of it? Taking a look at what needs to get done versus what we would like to get done can be helpful. For example, picking your kids up from school likely needs to get done, but do you NEED to vacuum the floors, or can it wait?
  2. Delegate:You might be thinking, “I’m uncomfortable with asking for help.” However, try to remember you are one part of a greater system, and in order for that system to run smoothly, all pieces need to be up and running. You can prioritize high-stress or high-need tasks and delegate! If they are necessary tasks of daily living for your household, you can ask for some support. This can be talking to a friend or asking your partner to make dinner. Remember, bids for attention connect!
  3. “This or That” Thinking: Often worry can be rooted in dichotomous thinking (sometimes called “black and white” thinking). This means we may say to ourselves, “This has to happen, or that will happen.” When we think in this way we eliminate the opportunity for flexibility. You essentially have sent the message to your body, if this does not get done now, there is danger! Take a moment and ask yourself is there another option?  What’s the middle ground? [Learn more about helpful vs. unhelpful thinking styles in our online Happiness Class.]
  4. What’s the Worst that Could Happen?: Let’s face it- it can be incredibly easy to catastrophize. How many of us play out “the worst case scenario,” just so we’re prepared…”just in case.” Take a moment and first practice noticing when you’re jumping to the worst-case scenario, then ask yourself, “Is this really a likely outcome?” Are there other more positive outcomes that are equally as likely?
  5. What’s the Evidence?: Ask yourself is there any past evidence to support that I cannot handle or manage the tasks at hand? Chances are, there will not be much evidence to support that in times of intense worry you won’t be able to formulate a plan of action. Remember: You got this!
  6. Explore Activities That Work For You: Oftentimes when you’re stressed, the activities that give you a sense of relaxation fall to the wayside. Try to remember that taking care of you allows you to be present for others in your life. Try integrating activities into your daily schedule that give you some relief; this could range from taking five minutes to just breathe to going for a run outside.
  7. What Can I Control?: Oftentimes we worry about things we do not have control over. Take the pressure off of yourself to control the uncontrollable! All you can control is yourself. When you notice your thoughts pushing you to analyze all of the external circumstances, bring yourself back to the simple (or not so simple) question of “What is within my control?”

Managing worry and stress is all about finding what works for you! Everyone experiences and deals with stress differently. Remember we can’t control that stress is a biological response but you do have control over how you’d like to manage it. If you’ve been struggling with stress and worry lately, and would like some personal support in managing it just get in touch with me: I’m always here to talk.

All the best,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC

How To Stop Worrying: Avoid The Mind Trap

How To Stop Worrying: Avoid The Mind Trap

Anxiety Management: How to Stop Worrying About The “What-If’s”

I have an infant, which means that over the past several months I have often found myself awake in the middle of the night feeding a hungry baby. Although I would do everything possible to keep my mind quiet and in sleep mode I started to notice a recurring pattern.

I would have just settled into the still and quiet of the night when I would hear a little voice in my head say “what should we feel anxious about right now?” This voice was clear as could be, prompting me to run through all the things in life I could worry about that would most likely keep me up for the rest of the night. Having spent years as a therapist and life coach helping others learn to manage their anxiety as well as teaching myself to manage my own, I was able to see this for what it was…a trap.

The mind is an amazing tool that can also be a bit of a narcissist, demanding attention when it is beginning to feel forgotten. In order to regain your focus, the mind will create the illusion of distress and unrest where there is none.

Learning how to combat the “worry trap” of the mind creates an experience of true freedom.

People have a tendency to believe that their thoughts have power over them, when in reality, we have power over our thoughts. Research into evidence-based forms of therapy, such as cognitive therapy, shows that by repeatedly practicing a different thought patterns we can create new neurological pathways in the brain. This means that with practice, you can begin to control the reflexive response of anxiety and feel more at peace.

Three Steps to Get Out of The Mind-Trap

  1. Ask Questions: You can take the first step out of the mind trap by asking yourself a couple of simple questions. Is there anything I can solve right now? And if so, what are the solvable problems? I know that at 2:00 in the morning the chances of me solving any of my worries are slim to none, making it pointless for me to give that little voice any attention at all.
  2. Talk Back: I found that the simple act of saying to myself “there is nothing I can do about any of these anxieties at this moment” quiets that nagging voice.
  3. Solve Your Solvable Problems, or Let It Go: However, when that voice presents in a moment where you can tackle the anxiety, identifying the solvable problems does two things. First, it exposes whether or not the anxious thoughts are based in reality and second it helps you regain your sense of control. If there are no solvable problems than you can consider it wasted worry and move on. On the other hand, if there are solvable problems, taking the steps to remedy whatever it is that is provoking the anxious feelings will provide a sense of empowerment and ease the feeling of impending doom that anxiety tends creates.
So, next time you hear that sneaky siren calling you into the depths of anxiety, remember, it is only a trap. You have the power to ignore the call altogether or take the necessary steps to avoid the deceptive lure into the mind trap.
How to Stop Worrying, and Start Living Fearlessly

How to Stop Worrying, and Start Living Fearlessly

Overthinking: The Curse of the Most Creative and Intelligent

Really smart, creative, and thoughtful people have many strengths. They can plan things in advance, avoid potential pitfalls, and envision their future reality. Vividly. However one thing I have learned from my years of experience as a therapist and life coach is that all these positive attributes, when left unsupervised, can also create boatloads of anxiety.

Overthinking and Indecision = Disempowerment

When you anticipate possible problems you feel constricted. When you plan every step you often encounter roadblocks. When you want to make the “right” decision before taking action, you invest more time and energy in to thinking than into doing. At these times it’s easy to become riddled with uncertainty, and decide before you even try that things aren’t even worth doing.

Slam! Analysis paralysis has clamped down on your life, and stopped you from living courageously.

The result? A safe life… But a smaller life.

Authentic Happiness Requires Risk

One of the core skills of authentically happy people that I discuss at length in my online Happiness Class is the ability to take measured risks. Why is the ability to try new things related to happiness? Because when you take action to bring your life into alignment with your core values, it gets better. Another component of fearless living is being able to handle uncertainty or adversity with confidence and competence. That means your happiness is still intact, even when things go differently than you’d hoped. That’s true resilience.

Being resilient and trusting yourself means that it’s safe to take chances. When you’re able to fearlessly try new things, your world expands. When you give yourself permission to take action, you get to learn and grow no matter what. Not knowing exactly what is going to happen next adds sparkle and excitement to your life. When your life gets bigger and more interesting, so do you.

Fearless Living Nourishes Your Relationship

Furthermore, novelty and learning new things are core ingredients to having a fresh, fun long term relationship. When your life atrophies, so does your partnership. If you want to have an interesting relationship, you need to have an interesting life. Plus, there is nothing sexier than a passionate person who is enthusiastic and confident. When you set aside anxieties and allow yourself to live fearlessly, you nourish both yourself and your relationship.

5 Steps to Stop Worrying and Start Living Fearlessly

On today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m giving you the scoop on how to release worry from your life, feel more confident in your decisions, strengthen your sense of competence and resilience, and cultivate fearlessness in your own life. Listen now, and learn all about the care and feeding of your inner tiger.

How To Stop Worrying, and Start Living Fearlessly

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Le Tigre, “Fake French”

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