How to stop anxiety: isn’t that the million dollar question? The New Year is a time to tackle new goals, but it’s also a time to reflect on your past goals, or more specifically, your past goals that you failed to accomplish, and why. Did you think too much and not act enough? Did you worry and stress and over-analyze your every move, to the point where you never actually made any of those moves you were so worried about? It’s common to worry about everything from your future to your relationships to your finances.
As Psychology Today reports, according to Graham C. L. Davey, Ph.D., an author and Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK, “some people will say they ‘worry’ because it helps them solve problems and deal with issues on a daily basis.” As he explains it, worrying has the potential to help people “think constructively about the problems they’re faced with, and there is good evidence that in most people worrying is associated with a problem-focused coping style.” That said, worrying also has the potential to stifle us, using so much of our energy to deal with our concerns, to the point that we’re left with little time and little motivation to take action. When worrying gets to the point that it is not constructive, but rather detrimental to your health and your lifestyle, it can sometimes “be diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder—an anxiety problem that afflicts up to 10-12% of people in their lifetime.”
So how to stop anxiety and take control of your worrying, so that you can be less of a worrier and more of a warrior when it comes to tackling your goals (for the New Year, or really during any time of year)? These simple tips can help you be more aware of your mental state, and can help you learn how to control your thoughts and your actions, so that 2016 can be your most successful, happy, and worry-free year yet.
First, Think About Why You Are Worrying
…And decide if that worrying is productive or holding you back. According to Susan Crandell in an article for Good Housekeeping, not all worrying is bad. There is such a thing as productive worry. Steven Craig, a psychologist in Birmingham, MI, explains that sometimes worry “identifies a threat and leads to problem-solving, goal setting, and acceptance of your limits. When worry sounds a wake-up call to a difficulty that we proceed to resolve, it’s productive rather than toxic, and finite rather than chronic.” So reflect on your worrying and decide if it is helping you improve your life and attitude, or if it is making your life harder.
Next, Focus on the Task in Front of You Right Now
You can’t do everything at all times, and you can’t be there for all people at all times. So instead, focus on what you can tackle right now, at this moment, and start there. Don’t give yourself the chance to worry about long-term goals or far-off obstacles.
Exercise can work wonders to help you blow off steam, clear your mind and feel more optimistic about your life, rather than worried about your future. While your workout might not actually solve the issues you are stressed about, you’ll feel refreshed, re-energized and more motivated to actually take action after you sweat.
It’s All About Perspective
We all have things we can worry about in our life. Will I pay my bills on time, will my loved ones be healthy and safe, will I lose my job, will I meet my deadline, will I find love…there’s an endless list of topics to worry about. But put your life into perspective when you start to feel overwhelmed by your worry. Instead of focusing on the unknown and the negativity, focus on what makes you happy and fulfilled each day. And when worry strikes, keep those happy thoughts in your mind so you can create positive energy in your life.
Accept What You Cannot Control
As Huff Post reports, according to Robert Leahy, Ph.D., Director at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City, you need to know your limitations, and once you accept what you can and cannot control, you’ll be able to minimize your worrying. “If you give up on trying to control what you cannot control and get involved in something you can actually do now, you let go of a future that may never really happen and live your life in the present moment.”