How do you stop worrying

11 Steps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Are you ready to finally learn how to stop worrying? 

Everyone gets worried from time to time — in fact, 59% of adults reported a daily sense of worry in 2020. Whether you’re preparing for a big presentation or are going through personal changes, it’s normal to have the occasional sleepless night.

However, too much worry can make it difficult to enjoy life. If you want to take back your life from anxiety and learn how to stop worrying, you’re in the right place.

We’re here to share our best strategies for how to stop worrying. We’ll give you the tools you need to get your stress and worry under control.

What makes us worry?

One of the keys to learning how to stop worrying is discovering the root of your fears. 

For better or for worse, worrying is part of how we’ve evolved as humans. Biologically, our central nervous system often responds to stress and fear by worrying. When this happens, the first step to stop worrying is to reflect on what exactly is causing your anxiety.  

Some feelings of worry can be healthy, pushing us to find solutions to real and present problems. However, chronic worry, even about things out of our control, can severely impact our mental health. The good news? There is a multitude of strategies to help us learn how to stop worrying, manage stress, and start thriving. 

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Am I worrying too much?

If you have the occasional anxious thought, there’s likely no need to be concerned about your emotional well-being or mental fitness. However, chronic worrying can be a symptom of something more serious, like an anxiety disorder. This type of worry can lead to physical symptoms like muscle tension, insomnia or poor sleep hygiene, stomach pain, back pain, and panic attacks. 

Are anxiety and chronic stress starting to interfere with your daily life, work, or relationships? If so, it’s time to get serious about learning how to stop chronic worrying.

Why do I worry so much?

Chronic worry can be triggered by anything. From working at a difficult job to becoming a new parent, there’s likely always going to be something in life for us to worry about. To find out why you may be an endless worrier, take some time to reflect and examine your self-awareness. Consider if any of these reasons could be causing your anxiety: 

Why is it so hard to stop worrying?

Once you start worrying, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of anxious and automatic thoughts. Over time, this can seriously impact your mental health. If you don’t learn strategies for how to stop worrying, it can feel like you’ll be stuck with chronic worry forever. 

Sometimes, worry feels productive. Taking time to relax and stop thinking about what’s stressing you out can feel lazy — and even cause more worry! Even though it may seem like the easier path is to stay stressed, you’ll be happier in the long run if you take the time to learn how to stop worrying.

How worrying affects your body

One of the most insidious parts about worrying is the effect it has on our physical, mental, and emotional health. In fact, over a third of Americans visited a doctor over a stress-related illness in 2018, and many illnesses may be perpetuated by stress. If this sounds like you, it’s time to learn how to stop worrying. 

Along with causing physical symptoms, worry and stress can also make it harder to recover from illness. Here are a few ways worry may be impacting your overall well-being. 

1. Excessive worry can make you physically ill

Physical signs can be the first sign that constant worrying is becoming a problem. Headaches, stomach aches, and shortness of breath can indicate that you’re experiencing excessive worry. 

Want to learn how to stop worrying? One important step is to recognize the common symptoms of chronic worry or anxiety:

  • Exhaustion no matter how many hours you sleep 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Trembling or shaky hands
  • Stomach pain, nausea, or other gastrointestinal problems
  • Sweating more than usual 
  • Feeling restless, tense, or paranoid

These symptoms can also serve as a sign to examine how you’re feeling. You may need to practice deep breathing and focus on relieving your worry. Ultimately, one of the first steps towards learning how to stop worrying is to identify these physical symptoms.

2. Worry can cause a stress response

Ongoing worry can quickly evolve into chronic stress. When you have a stress response, you may have a tough time identifying exactly what worrying thoughts got you there. 

Over time, repetitive negative thoughts can trigger other stress responses in your body. While it may seem like your mind is going a mile a minute, tracking your thoughts and the physical sensations in your body can help slow stress. 

(Image Source)

3. Worrying too much can affect your daily life

Worry begets worry, so it’s easy to start worrying about one or two bad things, only to end up worrying about even more areas of your life. 

When anxious thoughts become part of your everyday life, your stress can show up at work, with your family, in your finances, and even in your hobbies. In addition, feelings of stress are becoming more and more common in adults over the past few years. Learning how to stop worrying is more crucial than ever to maintain good mental health.

Over time, too much worry can impact your emotional resilience and make completing necessary tasks harder. Learning how to stop worrying can bring relief and happiness to your life. This can quickly reverse the effects of excessive stress and anxiety.

How can you stop worrying?

Chronic worry can quickly start to negatively impact your day-to-day life and overall mental health. Thankfully, with a little practice, you can make excessive worry a thing of the past. 

Here are our best strategies for how to stop worrying and finally start living:

  1. Mindfulness and meditation 
  2. Deep breathing 
  3. Practice self-compassion
  4. Do a body scan
  5. Share your fears with friends and family
  6. Practice gratitude
  7. Keep an emotions journal 
  8. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
  9. Focus on what you can control
  10. Exercise more often
  11. Take positive action
  12. Enlist professional help

This list could go on forever, but let’s take a deeper dive into our favorite methods for how to stop worrying, manage stress, and take back your life.

1. Stop worrying by practicing mindfulness and meditation

While worrying, you may have a hard time focusing on anything else. However, constant rumination on negative thoughts is a bad habit.

When you feel your concentration waning, sitting in a quiet room and clearing your mind can do wonders for your well-being. Mindfulness and meditation can take your focus away from negative thoughts, stop you from feeling anxious, and inspire a state of calm.

A guided meditation app can help clear your mind, refocus your thoughts, or distract from your worries. Over time, meditation can also help you get into a flow state, which allows you to focus on your priorities and knock tasks off your to-do list with ease. Learning to focus on what’s in front of you, instead of your worries, can truly change your life.

2. Stop worrying by practicing deep breathing

When we worry, we often focus on bad things that might happen in the future. Staying in the current moment can help relieve worries and negative thinking — plus reduce physical symptoms.

You may experience shortness of breath or chest pain when you start to worry. Practicing deep breathing can redirect your attention from your worries and help you become grounded in the present. 

Whether you’re having trouble sleeping or you feel a panic attack coming on, deep breathing is a quick and easy way to stop worrying. 

3. Stop worrying by doing a body scan

When you’re worrying, it’s natural to tighten your muscles. Over time, raised shoulders or a tight jaw can cause chronic muscle tension. The more you worry, the more tension you continuously carry in your body. If you feel constant tension, stiffness, or pain in your back and shoulders, it’s time to focus on how to stop worrying. 

In these moments, as you notice yourself feeling worried, take a deep breath and notice where you feel tension. Scanning your body can help you reconnect to the present, feel more grounded, and ultimately worry less.

Start at your toes and give dedicated attention to each part of your body up to your head. When you feel tension, focus on breathing into that discomfort and physically relaxing. Slowly release the tightness in your body, and before you know it, you’ll have discovered one great method for how to stop worrying instantly.

4. Stop worrying by sharing your fears with supportive friends and family

It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts as a chronic worrier, forgetting about family and friends without realizing it. Connecting with others is a powerful method to transform your emotional well-being, even when you feel like isolating.

Sharing the source of your stress, anxiety, or worry with a family member or friend can help you maintain perspective. Many times, our worries are irrational, but they don’t seem that way in our own minds.

Talking with supportive friends or family can offer a new view of the situation and be an effective way to stop worrying.


Stop worrying by focusing on what you’re grateful for

As we focus on one negative thought, it primes our brain to look for more. By contrast, looking for a silver lining can help train your brain to search for positives and interrupt the cycle of worry. This is one reason why a daily gratitude practice can be so helpful and even life-changing.

Having trouble finding something to be grateful for? Take a step back and look for what is interesting about the situation or funny. Engage your mind through curiosity and humor. This can quickly shift you into a better place and provide a needed break from the negative thoughts. You can even try to be curious about the way you worry. 

While it may take practice, learning to turn your negative thoughts around can be a great way to stop worrying.


Stop worrying by keeping a daily emotions journal

Chronic stress and anxiety happen when we don’t notice the first signs of worry and let it grow over time. Want to learn how to stop worrying? Checking in with yourself regularly is an important way to maintain your mental health and manage your anxiety.

By the time we’re in a worry cycle, we often feel disconnected from our emotions. Keeping a daily journal can help you track patterns and actively manage stress before your feelings spiral out of control.

As you practice journaling your emotions and sharing your thoughts, it becomes easier to identify when you’re starting to worry. Stopping worry early will ultimately help you feel better and stay focused on what matters most to you.


Stop worrying by maintaining a regular sleep schedule

Insomnia is a common side effect of chronic worry. When your mind is running wild, it can be tough to relax and get enough sleep. While you may feel like staying up will help you “solve” your worries, you’re often better off with a restorative night’s sleep.

Without sleep, minor worries can trigger a stress response that perpetuates for days or weeks in a row.  

Here’s how to stop worrying and finally get some sleep:

  • Do a quick meditation or mindfulness exercise before bed
  • Drink a cup of calming tea and read a book right before you go to sleep
  • Stop use of electronics at least an hour before bedtime (social media is shown to be linked to anxiety)
  • Use natural sleep aids such as lavender, melatonin, or essential oils
  • If you can’t get your mind to stop, take a moment to journal your thoughts (but give yourself a time limit so you still get to bed on time!)

If you try these strategies and still can’t get consistent, quality sleep, consider talking to your doctor. You could be suffering from insomnia, a common sleep disorder.

You deserve to stop worrying and take back control of your life, so never hesitate to ask for help when you need it. 


Distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t

Worrying is usually focused on a problem that needs to be controlled, putting our focus on “what if” rather than the present moment.

Many people falsely believe that spending more time worrying about a problem will make it easier to find a solution. 

If you’re preparing for an interview, you may be able to stop worrying and control the situation by researching the company or the interviewer. But, if you’re waiting for the results of an interview, worrying about the results won’t solve the problem because it’s out of your control.

If you’re struggling as a chronic worrier, ask yourself, “What can I control?” This can help you be more proactive when there is something you can do. Plus, this mindset can help release your worry when you discover there’s nothing you need to do about the situation. 

Want to learn how to stop worrying about things out of your control? When you notice there’s nothing you can or need to control right now, stop searching for a solution and let yourself relax.


Stop worrying, with regular exercise

Want to learn how to stop worrying? Focusing on your body with something like yoga can help ground you in the present moment. Even if your mind is racing with negative thoughts, going for a walk or run may help shift your attention.

Your physical health is an important buffer against constant worry as it is harder to break the cycle when you don't feel well or have low energy.

Listening to music also is a great relaxation technique and a powerful way to stop worry in its tracks. Hitting the gym with your headphones in can get your blood pumping and help you stop worrying instantly.

Even simple stretches can help reduce worry. Relieving tension in your neck, back, legs, and arms can lead to a flood of endorphins.


Stop worrying by taking positive action

Doing something you love is a great way to keep your stress at bay and leave behind your worry habit. Not only does taking positive action distract you from your worries, but it also allows you to expel extra energy.

Focusing on any activity that makes you feel good can quickly shift your state of mind and help you stop worrying instantly. Here are a few powerful positive actions you can take right now:

  • Take a walk with your dog, children, or while listening to your favorite podcast
  • Paint or work on a creative project — the craft aisle at your favorite store probably has lots of kits with all the supplies you need
  • Watch your favorite movie and indulge in a delicious snack
  • Blast your most loved music while doing the dishes or cleaning your home

Ultimately, participating in a hobby or an activity you truly enjoy is a powerful method for helping you learn how to stop worrying.


Stop worrying by enlisting professional help

Ultimately, you deserve to live a life you love, and endless worry can prevent you from fully thriving. Chronic conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression are tough to address on your own.

When anxiety, stress, and worry become too much to handle alone, the best method for how to stop worrying is to seek professional help.  

From therapy to coaching, to mentoring, there are limitless ways to get the help you need. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, specifically, can be a great, life-changing tool. Remember to speak to a few different therapists, coaches, or counselors to help you find the right fit. 

Above all, prioritize your mental health. In time, with the right professionals on your team, you can finally stop worrying and start living.

Leave worry in the past

Are you ready to stop constantly worrying about “what if”? 

At the end of the day, you’re the only one who can take the action needed to conquer your anxiety, worry less, and live the life you deserve. If you’re ready to learn how to stop worrying once and for all, try these strategies today. And remember — you’re not alone.

Need help with worrying? Get in touch with a BetterUp coach and learn how to be the best version of yourself.

How to Stop Worrying -


Are you plagued by constant worries and anxious thoughts? These tips can help calm your worried mind and ease anxiety.

How much worrying is too much?

Worries, doubts, and anxieties are a normal part of life. It’s natural to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcoming job interview, or a first date. But “normal” worry becomes excessive when it’s persistent and uncontrollable. You worry every day about “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, you can’t get anxious thoughts out of your head, and it interferes with your daily life.

Constant worrying, negative thinking, and always expecting the worst can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It can sap your emotional strength, leave you feeling restless and jumpy, cause insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension, and make it difficult to concentrate at work or school. You may take your negative feelings out on the people closest to you, self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, or try to distract yourself by zoning out in front of screens. Chronic worrying can also be a major symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a common anxiety disorder that involves tension, nervousness, and a general feeling of unease that colors your whole life.

If you’re plagued by exaggerated worry and tension, there are steps you can take to turn off anxious thoughts. Chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more balanced, less fearful perspective.

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Why is it so hard to stop worrying?

Constant worrying can take a heavy toll. It can keep you up at night and make you tense and edgy during the day. And even though you hate feeling like a nervous wreck, it can still be so difficult to stop. For most chronic worriers, the anxious thoughts are fueled by the beliefs—both negative and positive—that you hold about worrying:

Negative beliefs about worry. You may believe that your constant worrying is harmful, that it’s going to drive you crazy or affect your physical health. Or you may worry that you’re going to lose all control over your worrying—that it will take over and never stop. While negative beliefs, or worrying about worrying, adds to your anxiety and keeps worry going, positive beliefs about worrying can be just as damaging.

Positive beliefs about worry. You may believe that your worrying helps you avoid bad things, prevents problems, prepares you for the worst, or leads to solutions. Maybe you tell yourself that if you keep worrying about a problem long enough, you’ll eventually be able to figure it out? Or perhaps you’re convinced that worrying is a responsible thing to do or the only way to ensure you don’t overlook something? It’s tough to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you realize that worrying is the problem, not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind.

How to stop worrying tip 1: Create a daily “worry” period

It’s tough to be productive in your daily activities when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts and distracting you from work, school, or your home life. This is where the strategy of postponing worrying can help. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of an anxious thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off dwelling on it until later.

  1. Create a “worry period.” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
  2. Write down your worries. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it and then continue about your day. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now. Also, writing down your thoughts—on a pad or on your phone or computer—is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your worries are more likely to lose their power.
  3. Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. If the thoughts you wrote down are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. As you examine your worries in this way, you’ll often find it easier to develop a more balanced perspective. And if your worries don’t seem important any more, simply cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.

Tip 2: Challenge anxious thoughts

If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worry, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more threatening than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every anxious thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle life’s problems, assuming you’ll fall apart at the first sign of trouble. These types of thoughts, known as cognitive distortions, include:

All-or-nothing thinking, looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground. “If everything is not perfect, I'm a total failure.”
Overgeneralization from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever. “I didn't get hired for the job. I'll never get any job.”
Focusing on the negatives while filtering out the positives. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. “I got the last question on the test wrong. I'm an idiot.”
Coming up with reasons why positive events don't count. “I did well on the presentation, but that was just dumb luck.”
Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader: “I can tell she secretly hates me.” Or a fortune teller: “I just know something terrible is going to happen.”
Expecting the worst-case scenario to happen. “The pilot said we're in for some turbulence. The plane's going to crash!”
Believing that the way you feel reflects reality. “I feel like such a fool. Everyone must be laughing at me.”
Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn't do and beating yourself up if you break any of the rules. “I should never have tried starting a conversation with her. I'm such a moron.”
Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings. “I'm a failure; I'm boring; I deserve to be alone.”
Assuming responsibility for things that are outside your control. “It's my fault my son got in an accident. I should have warned him to drive carefully in the rain.

How to challenge these thoughts

During your worry period, challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself:

  • What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
  • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
  • What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
  • Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What would I say to a friend who had this worry?

Tip 3: Distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries

Research shows that while you're worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like you're getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things.

Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, you're no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.

Is your worry solvable?

Productive, solvable worries are those you can take action on right away. For example, if you're worried about your bills, you could call your creditors to see about flexible payment options. Unproductive, unsolvable worries are those for which there is no corresponding action. “What if I get cancer someday?” or “What if my kid gets into an accident?”

If the worry is solvable, start brainstorming. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can think of. Try not to get too hung up on finding the perfect solution. Focus on the things you have the power to change, rather than the circumstances or realities beyond your control. After you've evaluated your options, make a plan of action. Once you have a plan and start doing something about the problem, you'll feel much less anxious.

If the worry is not solvable, accept the uncertainty. If you're a chronic worrier, the vast majority of your anxious thoughts probably fall in this camp. Worrying is often a way we try to predict what the future has in store-a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn't work. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn't make life any more predictable. Focusing on worst-case scenarios will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. To stop worrying, tackle your need for certainty and immediate answers.

  • Do you tend to predict bad things will happen just because they are uncertain? What is the likelihood they will?
  • Given the likelihood is very low, is it possible to live with the small chance that something negative may happen.
  • Ask your friends and family how they cope with uncertainty in specific situations. Could you do the same?
  • Tune into your emotions. Worrying about uncertainty is often a way to avoid unpleasant emotions. But by tuning into your emotions you can start to accept your feelings, even those that are uncomfortable or don't make sense.


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Tip 4: Interrupt the worry cycle

If you worry excessively, it can seem like negative thoughts are running through your head on endless repeat. You may feel like you’re spiraling out of control, going crazy, or about to burn out under the weight of all this anxiety. But there are steps you can take right now to interrupt all those anxious thoughts and give yourself a time out from relentless worrying.

Get up and get moving. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment because it releases endorphins which relieve tension and stress, boost energy, and enhance your sense of well-being. Even more importantly, by really focusing on how your body feels as you move, you can interrupt the constant flow of worries running through your head. Pay attention to the sensation of your feet hitting the ground as you walk, run, or dance, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the sun or wind on your skin.

Take a yoga or tai chi class. By focusing your mind on your movements and breathing, practicing yoga or tai chi keeps your attention on the present, helping to clear your mind and lead to a relaxed state.

Meditate. Meditation works by switching your focus from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past to what’s happening right now. By being fully engaged in the present moment, you can interrupt the endless loop of negative thoughts and worries. And you don’t need to sit cross-legged, light candles or incense, or chant. Simply find a quiet, comfortable place and choose one of the many free or inexpensive smartphone apps that can guide you through the meditation process.

Practice progressive muscle relaxation. This can help you break the endless loop of worrying by focusing your mind on your body instead of your thoughts. By alternately tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body, you release muscle tension in your body. And as your body relaxes, your mind will follow.

Try deep breathing. When you worry, you become anxious and breathe faster, often leading to further anxiety. But by practicing deep breathing exercises, you can calm your mind and quiet negative thoughts.

Tip 5: Talk about your worries

It may seem like a simplistic solution, but talking face to face with a trusted friend or family member—someone who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or continually being distracted—is one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and diffuse anxiety. When your worries start spiraling, talking them over can make them seem far less threatening.

Keeping worries to yourself only causes them to build up until they seem overwhelming. But saying them out loud can often help you to make sense of what you’re feeling and put things in perspective. If your fears are unwarranted, verbalizing them can expose them for what they are—needless worries. And if your fears are justified, sharing them with someone else can produce solutions that you may not have thought of alone.

Build a strong support system. Human beings are social creatures. We’re not meant to live in isolation. But a strong support system doesn’t necessarily mean a vast network of friends. Don’t underestimate the benefit of a few people you can trust and count on to be there for you. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to confide in, it’s never too late to build new friendships.

Know who to avoid when you’re feeling anxious. Your anxious take on life may be something you learned when you were growing up. If your mother is a chronic worrier, she is not the best person to call when you’re feeling anxious—no matter how close you are. When considering who to turn to, ask yourself whether you tend to feel better or worse after talking to that person about a problem.

Tip 6: Practice mindfulness

Worrying is usually focused on the future—on what might happen and what you’ll do about it—or on the past, rehashing the things you’ve said or done. The centuries-old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. This strategy is based on observing your worries and then letting them go, helping you identify where your thinking is causing problems and getting in touch with your emotions.

Acknowledge and observe your worries. Don’t try to ignore, fight, or control them like you usually would. Instead, simply observe them as if from an outsider’s perspective, without reacting or judging.

Let your worries go. Notice that when you don’t try to control the anxious thoughts that pop up, they soon pass, like clouds moving across the sky. It’s only when you engage your worries that you get stuck.

Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your ever-changing emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind. If you find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment.

Repeat daily. Using mindfulness to stay focused on the present is a simple concept, but it takes time and regular practice to reap the benefits. At first, you’ll probably find that your mind keeps wandering back to your worries. Try not to get frustrated. Each time you draw your focus back to the present, you’re reinforcing a new mental habit that will help you break free of the negative worry cycle.

Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Grupe, D. W., & Nitschke, J. B. (2013). Uncertainty and Anticipation in Anxiety. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 14(7), 488–501.

Stubbs, B., Vancampfort, D., Rosenbaum, S., Firth, J., Cosco, T., Veronese, N., Salum, G. A., & Schuch, F. B. (2017). An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, 249, 102–108.

Newman, M. G., Llera, S. J., Erickson, T. M., Przeworski, A., & Castonguay, L. G. (2013). Worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Review and Theoretical Synthesis of Evidence on Nature, Etiology, Mechanisms, and Treatment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 275–297.

Kircanski, K., Thompson, R. J., Sorenson, J., Sherdell, L., & Gotlib, I. H. (2015). Rumination and Worry in Daily Life: Examining the Naturalistic Validity of Theoretical Constructs. Clinical Psychological Science : A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 3(6), 926–939.

Wells, A. (2005). The Metacognitive Model of GAD: Assessment of Meta-Worry and Relationship With DSM-IV Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29(1), 107–121.

Aylett, E., Small, N., & Bower, P. (2018). Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice – a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Health Services Research, 18(1), 559.

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Last updated: October 31, 2022

How to stop winding yourself up: 10 recommendations from Dale Carnegie's book

Contents of the article

Excitement and anxiety accompany us everywhere: at home and at work, on the bus and in the store, in line and in traffic jams. There is practically no person who does not face excitement. But some people can pull themselves together and survive an unpleasant moment, while others begin to wind themselves up even more, turning simple anxiety into chronic stress. We've summarized the tips from psychologist Dale Carnegie in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living? to change your perspective and reduce stress.

Tip 1. Distinguish between the past and the present

To stop overthinking yourself and worrying about problems that may happen in the future, you need to live in the present. Dale Carnegie proposes to mentally install an "iron curtain" that will delimit the past and the future, preventing a person from regretting old mistakes once again or thinking about tomorrow's difficulties.

Advice 2. Answer the Questions

At the height of your panic attack, ask yourself three questions from Willis Carrier's magical formula from Dale Carnegie's book.

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen in this situation?
  2. How can this problem be solved?
  3. Will I be able to cope with these difficulties?

If you honestly answer these questions for yourself, you will understand that even in the worst case scenario, you will be able to cope with trouble.

Tip 3. Think about the harmful effects of stress

In times of stress, you must constantly remember the harm that anxiety can do to your body. The author of the book cites the sad fact that business people who live in chronic stress die early. Therefore, it is important to take care of yourself and stay calm.

Tip 4. Think positively

Cheerful thoughts can reduce anxiety and calm down quickly. To do this, you need to develop positive thinking in yourself, try to maintain a good mood and look at life with a smile.

Advice 5. Start acting

When a person is inactive, bad thoughts begin to creep into his head. The best way to get rid of them is to keep yourself busy. So the brain will switch to action, and psychological stress will decrease.

Tip 6. Get rid of the habit of being nervous

Surely you have met people who, for any reason, begin to worry. For them, anxiety for no reason has already become a habit, which is still better to get rid of. To do this is simple - create a new useful habit - do not worry about trifles.

Advice 7. Do not worry about what has already happened

Many people continue to reproach themselves for past mistakes that cannot be corrected. In this situation, you need to accept the inevitable and let go of the past. Just say to yourself, “What happened that should have happened” and calm down.

Advice 8. Set an acceptable level of emotions

To control excitement and anxiety, you need to mentally set a "limiter" to your emotions. Just assess the situation and determine the acceptable level of experience, beyond which you can not go.

As you can see, Dale Carnegie's recommendations are quite simple and easy to apply in everyday life. The main thing to do is to firmly decide to change your thinking. You can also study the nature of stress and master relaxation techniques - see the instructions in the free online course "Stress Management".

How to Stop Worrying: 12 Failing Strategies


BooksPractices how toAntistress


You seek validation

You worry that you don't look good enough and keep asking your partner, "Do you think I'm okay?" It seems to you that chest pain is the first symptom of cancer, and you often visit doctors to find out: “Will I live?” Or maybe you're nervous about a guy you met at a party. "He yawned, was he bored with me?" - ask your friend.

The problem is that one confirmation is not enough. You will look for them again and again, trying to get more guarantees in order to reduce your anxiety and insecurity for at least the next couple of minutes. But no confirmation helps, because you will soon begin to doubt the confirmation itself.

Maybe your friend is just encouraging you by saying that you look good, but in reality she thinks otherwise. Or the doctor can't tell for sure if it's cancer without doing certain tests. In doing so, you are trying to gain assurance, rather than learning to live with insecurity, which is a very important element in dealing with anxiety.

2. You are trying to stop thinking

You may have heard of stop thought therapy, which involves getting rid of negative or unwanted thoughts by suppressing them. Its essence is this. Every time you are worried that you will lose all your money in the stock market, you must force yourself to stop thinking about it, flick your wrist with a rubber band, or mentally shout to yourself: “Stop!”. This is supposed to reduce your nervousness.

Unfortunately, not only does this method not work, but it leads to a "rebound thought" and only worsens the situation in the long run

Let's check the "stop thought". Close your eyes and relax. Imagine a clear image of a polar bear - cute and fluffy. Now that you have a vivid picture in your head, I want you to stop thinking about polar bears for the next ten minutes. No matter what you do, don't think about any polar bears. Psychologists have long noticed that attempts to suppress certain thoughts lead to their renewal or even intensification.

3. You collect information

When you are worried about something, you try to find out everything you can about the problem. Knowledge is power, isn't it? After all, this is how we find out the facts. Perhaps you really collected a number of facts (or perhaps not). But even real facts can be selected biased, that is, on the basis of prejudice, and misleading.

This is what happens when you are looking for information to support your negative beliefs. You see a trend that doesn't exist, you overestimate the risk and give importance to what is unimportant. Trying to figure out if a negative prediction can come true - “What if I have cancer?”, You find the information you need and tend to confirm the prediction.

If you are worried that you are annoying someone, you will not only look for any signs that this person is treating you badly, but you will also interpret their neutral behavior as negative. Research shows that chronic neurotics view neutral or ambiguous information as a threat.

Shy people consider any complex facial expression to be angry

Psychologists have also found that when we gather information about a threat in a state of anxiety (for example, the possibility of a plane crash, a terrorist attack, or contracting a dangerous disease), we almost always overestimate the risk.

At times like this, we don't try to figure out the most important thing, which is, "How often does the worst thing NOT happen?" If you're afraid of flying, how carefully do you search for information about planes that land successfully? If you fear being fired, do you keep track of how many days/months/years you haven't been fired?

4. You check again and again

You try to reduce your anxiety by making sure everything is in order. You think: “I may have forgotten something”, “I must have missed something”, “If I can detect some little thing in advance, then I can prevent the worst” and “I should check everything, then (perhaps) I can do something. ” The key points are as follows:

  • "If I figure everything out, I can reduce my uncertainty."

  • "I can't stand uncertainty."

  • "If I detect the signs of disaster early, I can prevent the worst."

  • "I can't rely entirely on my memory."

  • "Caution is never too much."

  • "This is my responsibility."

You think you look terrible. Every time you think about it, you rush to the mirror to make sure your makeup is in order. You look at yourself in a magnifying mirror, which allows you to see any wrinkle or broken capillary in the eye. This, of course, makes you even more worried about your appearance.

You explain to yourself: “I look in the mirror to see something wrong early on and do something about it.” . This reduces anxiety: fixing your makeup makes you feel better for a while, and avoiding social events feels safer.

What you don't know is that going to a party would help you overcome your anxiety. Checking never addresses the root of your anxiety: "I can't stand being insecure." Checks cost you stress, time, and energy, and reinforce your belief that constant monitoring is necessary to feel safe. What about the meaning? For a period of five minutes to an hour you feel better, and then you need to make sure again.

5. You avoid discomfort

A common way to deal with anxiety is to avoid or put off what worries or worries you. If you're worried about taxes, you're avoiding filing your tax return. If you are worried that something is seriously ill, then put off going to the doctor.

Avoiding what bothers you works instantly. However, it also reinforces the belief that you are unable to solve these problems, making you even more afraid of facing them in the future. There is simply no way for you to know that you can handle it all on your own. You have no chance to disprove your negative beliefs.

6. You stun yourself with alcohol, drugs and food

Anxiety and depression are caused by the abuse of alcohol, drugs and food. If you're worried about losing your job, you overeat and drink a lot to calm down. If you're worried about getting pissed at a party, you can always "take a couple of drinks" to "relax."

Suppression of anxiety through drugs, alcohol or food indicates that you do not know how to deal with your anxieties and emotions. You do not reflect, do not try to figure out how much your prejudices correspond to the truth.

The advantages of suppression and avoidance are that they work instantly and are easily accessible

And no consequences - for the next couple of hours. You will not feel bad until late, you will have a hangover tomorrow, you can enjoy drugs and not think about life in the real world, because your motivation and ambition have decreased significantly. However, you still do not resolve the existing issues. As a result, you will have two problems - anxiety and self-destructive behavior.

7. You suffer from "overpreparation syndrome"

You are nervous about having to give a report next week. Although you know that you are competent and have deep knowledge on the topic, you are nevertheless disturbed by the thought: “What if everything goes out of my head?”, “What if someone asks a question that I can’t answer?” .

You think through the speech down to the last word, and when the time is right, you get up and read the speech... but you are so boring! You sound like a robot. People think: "That's a bore!" And you were worried that if you were even a little spontaneous, you would certainly forget something and go astray.

Excessive preparation reinforces the belief that you must be in complete control of what worries you, otherwise disaster will occur focusing on a feeling like "I think I know this stuff."

The speakers who liked the audience the least prepared the most. Overpreparation does not help, because it is impossible to prepare for everything in the same way: something unexpected can always happen.

8. You use safe behavior

When we are anxious or afraid, we use “safe behavior” – “rituals” that make us feel safe even for a moment. People often don't think about their rituals until others point them out and ask them to stop.

For example, a person who is afraid to drive on a bridge performs the following rituals for safety: plans the path so that he knows exactly where the bridge awaits him, tries not to look over the edge of the bridge, drives in traffic lanes, does not look in the rear-view mirror, squeezes steering wheel, take a deep breath and slam on the brakes. Each of these aspects of safe behavior gives him a sense of control over the situation. In fact, this only reinforces his belief that he is not capable of controlling her.

The use of rituals convinces you that you cannot manage on your own, that this situation will remain dangerous and problematic unless you "protect" yourself with some action. As soon as you stop practicing them, you will start doing what you are afraid of, and you will understand that in fact, everything is in order without these “rituals”.

9. You are always trying to make a good impression

Perhaps you are worried about how you look or that you will say something inappropriate. You worry that people will notice your restlessness, insecurity, and awkwardness and judge you. You reason like this: "If I don't make a really good impression in every way, everyone will think I'm a failure."

Most neurotics grew up without warm affection from their parents, but with the need to be guided by the thoughts and feelings of other people and with the obligation to please them. As a result, a person is never sure that he can like, that relations with him will be maintained.

You are too focused on being nice to everyone. You are constantly trying to guess what others think. Believing that you must always “make an incredible impression on people,” you expect the most harsh criticism - and accordingly worry.

10. You meditate by thinking over and over again

When you meditate on something that is disturbing, you “chew” it many times like a cow chews its cud. You hope that if you keep thinking, you will find a solution, feel better, and stop thinking accordingly.

Belief in the usefulness of reflection is absolutely false. The awareness of how bad you feel only gets stronger because you focus on the negative emotions.

It makes you avoid positive feelings, as if you refuse to change your attitude to the situation or find any advantages in it. Fruitless reflections are the eternal "chewing" of reality that you cannot swallow.

11. You Need Total Confidence

It may seem that gaining confidence right now will make you less nervous. But even if you finally believe that the situation is as it seems to you and start looking for the perfect solution to the problem, you will soon realize that it is not ideal - and you will start to get nervous again. As you search for confidence and the perfect solution, anxiety grows. In reality, anything can happen. Living with uncertainty means living in the real world.

12. You refuse to accept the existence of your "crazy" thoughts

Many people worry about thoughts that seem to them completely contrary to their character and beliefs. Almost everyone talks about "crazy" thoughts - disgusting, immoral or cruel.

People worry about them for several reasons:

  • see them as an omen of something terrible,

  • feel ashamed and guilty,

  • think they should get rid of them immediately.

For example, people with panic disorder fear that the thought of a panic attack indicates that one is about to happen. OCD sufferers believe that the thought of losing control predicts that they will behave violently, lose control of themselves. Neurotics also tend to believe that their thoughts will inevitably lead to actions.

It's helpful to ask yourself, "How many times have I had 'crazy' thoughts?" and “How many times have these predictions actually come true?”

Obsessive-compulsive disorder research indicates that almost 30% have real obsessions, unwanted thoughts, urges that do not affect behavior in any way. Thinking about something is not the embodiment of what you thought about.

Many people who think about cruel and bad deeds believe that having these thoughts makes them immoral, disgusting, corrupt. Character and sanity, however, are not determined by your thoughts - they are determined by what you actually do.

For example, if you have images of violence in your mind, ask yourself: Are you the abuser in these scenes? Not? So these images have nothing to do with your character. And to fight them - instead of acknowledging their existence - means only to increase your own anxiety. How to replace all of the above false strategies? What steps in working with anxiety will be truly effective?

About the author: Robert Leahy is a psychotherapist, one of the world leaders in cognitive behavioral therapy, and author of The Cure for Nerves: How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life.

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