Dr. Pittman’s solution to excessive worrying boils down to three steps:
- Please identify your concern: “First, identify what you’re worried about,” says Dr. Pittman. Writing this down can be helpful, especially if someone has more than one thing to worry about at once. Once you’ve identified your concern (or worries), you’re ready to move on to step two.
- plan: Now that you know what you’re worried about, Dr. Pitman says it’s time to make a plan. This means asking yourself what you can do about his own concerns. Worried about paying bills? Can you create a financial plan that includes a budget? Worried about everything you have to do in a day? Create a to-do list and know when to tackle each task Can you please specify
Another reason this step is important is that it helps identify issues that are out of your control, explains Dr. Pittman. For example, you cannot control what someone thinks of you. If that’s your main concern, there’s no plan you can do. Once you’ve completed your planning (even if your concerns are related to your inability to plan), move on to the final step.
- move on: If a concern is out of your control, or if you’ve made every possible plan around it, Dr. Pitman can help you by watching TV, calling your friends, or doing a hobby you enjoy. “The brain doesn’t work that way, so it’s important not to tell yourself, ‘Stop worrying,'” she says. “For example, if you tell them not to think about pink elephants, they will only be able to think about pink elephants. I have.”
Dr. Johnson says journaling can help people who are prone to anxiety. She explains that a journal can be a dedicated place to write down your worries. Some people spend their time worrying, she says.
“Regular self-care is also important. [for combatting worrying]’” says Dr. Johnson, adding that taking good care of yourself can help you cope with life’s stressors. It’s all self-care.
Meditation can also help those who tend to worry. Worry makes your heart beat faster, while deep breathing and meditation slow your heart rate and get your body out of fight-or-flight mode.
Both experts say seeing a therapist can also help if worry is taking over your life. If someone is diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, prescription medications (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) may also be considered.