How to Cope with Worry

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

We all worry at certain times. It would be strange if we did not.  A challenge in our work, an exam, an unwell friend or relative or a fear about the future – these worries are perfectly understandable and cannot be avoided from time to time.

However, constant worrying can have an immobilising effect on the mind, drawing on emotional energy, raising anxiety levels, and interfering with daily life and sleep patterns, leaving you feeling restless, ill at ease and with excessive stress hormones in your body.

Worrying is probably the result of a misuse of imagination. For people who listen to your worries, it may seem that your anxiety is not helping the situation at all. It may seem that you are looking at the world through an unhelpful lens – seeing a different reality from what exists.  For example, you may conclude that everything will turn out badly and that you cannot handle life’s problems, sure that you’ll fall at the first hurdle. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes are sometimes called cognitive distortions.

Examples include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: seeing situations in a yes/no way, with no middle ground. So we may consider ourselves as failures if we do not reach perfection.
  • Over-generalisation: from one bad experience, you may expect it to occur repetitively, so that if you do not pass an exam first time, there is no point in trying again – in that or any other subject.
  • Analysing negative perceptions and discounting positives: You may receive many compliments on your work, but one negative remark will override your thoughts.
  • Underrating achievements: An example could be ‘I was lucky to pass that exam. It was just fortunate that the right questions came up.’
  • ‘Mind-reading’: You imagine that others think badly of you when there is no evidence to support this. You may think, ‘He must dislike me – he has not spoken with me yet at work.’
  • Assuming the worst: ‘Fog is forecasted tomorrow morning. This means that no one will come to my party.’
  • Labelling: Self- disgust can be an unhelpful accompaniment to self-analysis. ‘I am such an idiot. I deserve to be ignored by others.’
  • Taking illogical responsibility: ‘I should have told her to wait until the rain stopped before driving home. She had an accident, and it was my fault.

These distortions are tricky to give up because they can be part of a longstanding pattern of thinking. You may even rationalise worrying by thinking that it is synonymous with being responsible or caring.

However, to reduce or stop worry for good, it is essential to realise that excessive worrying does not serve any useful purpose. Telling yourself to stop worrying rarely works.

Here are some tips that may help:

1. Relax. Rather than merely distracting yourself from the focus of worry, try relaxing deeply while imagining what is worrying you. When the emotion is reduced, the compulsion to continue worrying is removed.

Physical tension can accompany worrying thoughts, sometimes felt in the shoulders, back or jaw when your conscious thoughts are focusing on a troubling issue. By systematically and alternately tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body, you can release muscle tension. As your body gradually relaxes, so your mind will follow.

2. Do regular exercise. Keeping physically active produces feel-good endorphins relieving tension and stress, increasing energy, and a sense of well-being. It can also burn off the damaging effects of stress hormones.

3. Meditate. Switching your concentration from the past or the future to what is happening right now is a form of meditation. By immersing yourself fully in the present moment, you can break the vicious circle of negative thoughts and worries.

5. Breathe. Our breathing tends to change when we are worrying; we take short, quick, shallow breaths, and sometimes even hyperventilate. Calm breathing can be a portable tool that you can use whenever worrying thoughts seem to overwhelm you. There are many versions of breathing exercises that you can choose from, but the most important thing is that you feel in control of your breathing, perhaps breathing into a slow count of four, and then out to a count of four also. Breathe through your nose if possible, so that the air you breathe is filtered and warm. Doing these exercises can help you to calm down and take control of your breathing, and feel so much better.

The Academy for Distance Learning provides a course on Stress Management and also  Managing Mental Health in Adults. Why not consider other counselling courses – helping others as well as yourself.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

LEAVE A REPLY

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

BLOG CATEGORIES

MOST POPULAR

Introducing ADL courses by Carrier Pigeon!

After our UFOlogy course’s great success last year, we’re bringing our incredible community of students a new way to learn from home. Our team of specially trained albino pigeons will come and deliver course material straight to you! After enrolment is complete, we’ll send you an audio file that our birds are trained to hear

Read More »

Four ways that you use AI every day!

Artificial Intelligence may have seemed like something out of a high-tech sci-fi film a couple of years ago, but now it is here and making waves. The technology is so useful that we use it in a lot of our everyday life without realising, so here are four exciting uses of AI in your day-to-day

Read More »

Roses in Pakistan: A Gallery

Elizabeth, one of our students studying Rose Growing has sent us a fabulous selection of scenic photos of Roses in Pakistan that we’d like to share with you. “These photos are of Christmas at a friend’s farm in Pakistan. So even in Pakistan, you have happy roses. I worked for six years in Karachi/Pakistan. But

Read More »

RHS EXAMS and Syllabus Changes for 2021

PDF: RHS COURSE CHANGES NOTICE for 2021 Exams for February 2021 can now be booked; please note the RHS now raises its fees every year in September, so there is a new rate for 2021 exam fees. As the COVID situation continues to affect everyone, the RHS have decided that it would be sensible to

Read More »

3 TED Talks to Help You on Your Learning Journey

Here at ADL, we pride ourselves on supporting life-long learning in all of its forms. Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) educational talks are a brilliant supplement to whatever you are currently learning because they can help us take apart some of the issues that we all face as learners and more generally in life. So,

Read More »

SIGNUP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Scroll to Top