How to Stop Constant Worrying and Embrace Your Inner Chill

11 minutes Written by Ann Dypiangco

Picture this: You wake up in the morning. Just as you’re about to open your eyes, your mind switches on and starts moving a mile a minute. You’re suddenly inundated with fearful thoughts and constant worry about things you cannot control. Your brain reminds you of all the things to worry about. Things like…

Is your sister still mad at you? Has she responded to your last text?

The presentation you have coming up. Is there enough content to fill the time?!? 

Will you have enough money in your bank account to pay for the internet and make rent next week?

Before you know it, your palms are sweaty, and your stomach is in knots. The worst part? Your feet haven’t even hit the floor yet. It’s going to be a long day. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are proven strategies that work to help you break free from distressing thoughts and reclaim your sense of serenity. 

In this blog post, we’ll answer common questions about worry, share therapist-recommended strategies to cope, and dive into how therapy can help manage anxiety that feels unmanageable.

So, take a deep breath, and let’s get ready to re-find your inner calm. 

Table of contents

What is worry?

Why do I worry about things I can’t control?

Can we worry too much?

6 tips for managing constant worrying

  1. Find a New Way to Look at the Problem
  2. Practice Mindfulness
  3. Get Out of Your Brain and Into Your Body
  4. Relaxation Techniques
  5. Write It Out
  6. Find Someone to Talk to

Does therapy help stop worrying?

What is worry?

Worry is a cognitive process characterized by a repetitive and negative chain of thoughts, often centered around potential threats, future uncertainties, and things one cannot control. Worrying involves contemplating negative scenarios, playing out worst-case outcomes, and experiencing unease or apprehension.

One way to look worry is that it’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you from what could go wrong. Only it’s doing a terrible job. Not only is it taking all your emotional energy and time, but the supposedly imminent and urgent disasters that your worry tells you about… more than likely will never happen.

While worry and anxiety are closely related, they differ in intensity and duration. Worry tends to be milder and more focused on short-term situations. Constant worry means a person cannot let the thought go or turn their brain off from the worry whereas anxiety is a broader state of heightened fear or nervousness.

When someone experiences anxiety, their thoughts move circuitously or race so rapidly that they cannot keep up and become overwhelmed. Anxiety creates strong physical reactions that can feel like a surge of adrenaline, a crushing weight on the chest, or a deep pit in the stomach.

In more severe cases of anxiety, people experience panic attacks. Panic is an intense and sudden surge of overwhelming fear accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, and a sense that you are dying. 

Worry, especially constant worry, can be incredibly impairing. It can lead people to have difficulty focusing, to be restless, to struggle in finishing projects, and to experience negative self-talk. It is not uncommon for people to try self-soothing their worries by turning to their phone, social media, alcohol, or drugs—which often make it worse.

Why do I worry about things I can’t control?

Worrying about what we cannot control is part of the human condition. We all have an innate desire for certainty and a need to feel in control. When faced with uncertainty or unpredictability, our brains tend to default to worry mode as a way to protect ourselves and regain a sense of control, even if it’s just an illusion. 

So, how can you identify what you can and can’t control? Start by taking a step back and examining the situation objectively. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to influence or change the outcome. If the answer is yes, then you have some level of control. It can also be helpful to identify areas you don’t have control over, like the weather and other people.

An example of this is someone who has applied for their dream job. They want this role badly, but it’s been 2 weeks since their second interview, and no one has contacted them yet with an offer. In this scenario, the job applicant is in control of their job search (because they can keep applying for other roles) and their communication with the company (because they can send a follow-up email to the hiring manager.) The thing they don’t have control over is whether the job offer will come their way. 

Can we worry too much?

Abso-freaking-lutely! Worrying too much is like carrying a backpack full of rocks that weigh you down, stealing your peace of mind and preventing you from fully enjoying your life. While mild worry can serve a useful purpose, such as helping us prepare for a big speech or saving money for retirement, constant worry can harm our mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. 

Worrying is our natural response to stress, uncertainty, or perceived threats. It’s our brain’s way of trying to protect us through anticipating and problem-solving around potential problems.

However, when worry becomes excessive, it can consume our thoughts, drain our energy, and interfere with our daily functioning, including our abilities to concentrate, make decisions, or be present in conversations. Physical signs of excessive worry include headaches, sleep disturbance, upset stomach, digestive issues, and muscle tension. 

6 tips for managing constant worrying

If you find yourself worrying too much, don’t fret! Here are 6 practical tools to give your brain a much-needed reprieve.

1. Find a new way to look at the problem

Cognitive reframing is a powerful technique to manage worry by shifting one’s perspective on a situation. It involves challenging and restructuring negative or anxious thoughts into more positive and rational ones. By consciously examining our thoughts and questioning their validity, we can better understand the situation at hand and reduce unnecessary anxiety. 

For example, when faced with a troubling situation, say having a friend ghost you after you said no to lending them money. Your brain may try to tell you stories like ‘everyone will think I’m greedy‘ or ‘I just lost a lifelong friend over $50; what kind of person am I?’

When you use cognitive reframing you can see the situation in a new light. In this case, the truth is you were not the one to walk away from the friendship. Your former friend chose to stop contact after you declined a request you are not obligated to meet. Also, healthy friendship involves boundaries, and you deserve supportive people who will value you for who you are, not what you can give them. 

2. Practice mindfulness

If you think mindfulness won’t work for you because it’s too boring or you’re not good at meditating, think again. Mindfulness practices come in all forms, including guided meditations, where a facilitator leads you through what to think about, and walking meditations, where you move with awareness using your senses. 

Vipassana meditation is another form of mindfulness practice. It involves developing a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment, including your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. By practicing non-judgmental observation, you can cultivate a sense of detachment from your thoughts, recognizing them as passing mental phenomena rather than absolute truths. This practice helps in breaking the cycle of constant rumination. 

Above all, remember this, no one is perfect at meditating. It’s a practice for everyone.

3. Get out of your brain and into your body 

Exercise and yoga offer powerful avenues for managing worry and promoting mental well-being. Regular physical activity, whether through cardio, strength training, yoga, or Latin dancing, has been shown to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters and stress reducers. Physical exercise helps to reduce anxiety and tension, promoting a sense of relaxation and well-being.

Yoga, in particular, combines physical movement with breath control and mindfulness, creating a holistic approach to managing worry. The combination of stretching, strengthening, and balancing postures in yoga helps to release physical tension and increase body awareness. The intentional focus on breath-to-movement during yoga helps calm the mind and reduce the racing thoughts and preoccupation brought on by them, allowing individuals to cultivate a sense of peace and tranquility. 

4. Relaxation techniques

There are many relaxation techniques that serve as effective tools for promoting a state of calmness and relaxation. 

Here’s two of them…

4-7-8 Breathing Technique, Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil 

Step 1. Inhale deeply through the nose for a count of 4. 

Step 2. Hold your breath for a count of 7

Step 3. Exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of 8.

This technique helps regulate the breath, activate the body’s relaxation response, and reduce feelings of anxiety and worry. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a process of systematically tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body. By consciously tensing and releasing the muscles, individuals can become more mindful of the difference between tense and relaxed physical states. 

Instructions: Start from the toes and work up to the head, tense each muscle group one at a time for 3-5 seconds. Then relax those muscles while bringing awareness to the difference in body sensations when you consciously let go of tension.

5. Write it out

Writing can provide an outlet for expressing and processing anxious thoughts and emotions. By putting pen to paper or typing on a screen, individuals can externalize their worries, gaining new perspectives and reducing their intensity. Writing in a journal allows individuals to release intense emotions, gain clarity, and develop a more objective viewpoint. 

In addition to journaling, keeping a worry log is another helpful writing approach. This exercise provides a structured approach to writing about worries, allowing individuals to document their concerns, explore underlying patterns, and identify potential triggers. 

6. Find someone to talk to

Constant worry is an incredibly overwhelming experience. You don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to a mental health professional, such as a therapist, psychologist, or counselor, who can provide guidance, support, and a non-judgemental listening ear. They can help you explore the underlying causes of your fears and develop strategies tailored to your specific situation and needs. 

Does therapy help stop worrying?

We all need a little help sometimes, and therapy is like having a personal worry whisperer. Experiencing constant worry can be isolating when we worry about whether our friends are sick of hearing us talk about our anxious thoughts! But when we keep things bottled up, we end up feeling more upset.

Having an objective person to share your worries with is incredibly helpful. It gives you the opportunity to learn new tools and hear new takes on how to look at the situation causing you distress. Simply put: it can get you out of your worry rut.

Therapists work with helping people manage the current situation—such as teaching coping skills and pointing out unhelpful thinking patterns—and tend to hurts from the past. Identifying and finding a resolution for experiences you had previously in life that may be contributing to the distress affecting you now. The important thing is finding a therapist you can talk to about anything without feeling judged. 

When you’re ready to feel better and release the worry, Mental Health Match is a therapist-matching service that expertly connects people with therapists who best fit their needs. The matching algorithm starts by asking you questions to clarify your needs, including what you’re seeking support for, the therapeutic modalities you’re interested in, and if you have any personal preferences for your therapist, such as their language capabilities or cultural background. From there, Mental Health Match sorts through thousands of therapists to find the top 3 that best meet your needs in your area. The process is short, easy, and worry-free.

Conclusion

Worry may be a part of life, but constant worry—the kind that hounds you all day long and prevents you from being truly present with those you love—is debilitating. When you have the power of therapy on your side, you can bid farewell to those nagging anxious thoughts and embrace your inner chill. Life is too short, and you are too important to waste on worry. It’s time to step into your new future filled with peace, happiness, and worry-free bliss.

Avatar Ann Dypiangco

Written by Ann Dypiangco

Ann is a psychotherapist making an impact at the intersection of mental health and Web3. After over 15 years of developing expertise and leading strong clinical teams in the mental health field, she pivoted to apply her deep knowledge of mental health in the tech industry.