When you get caught up in worrying, it can seem hard – or even impossible – to get out. One worry leads to another, and before you know it you’re tangled up in a web of worry thoughts.
But by using certain tools, you can quiet the mental chatter and calm your anxious mind.
Kathryn Tristan, author of the forthcoming book, Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living (available December 4, 2012), shares three strategies that can reduce worrying right now.
Q: What are several quick ways to stop worrying?
A: Some of the Worry Busters I discuss in my book Why Worry? are:
1. Belly (also called diaphragmatic) breathing.
Slow, deep breathing activates the vagus nerve. That helps to counter the stress response.
2. Focus on now.
This is a technique whereby one concentrates on the present moment, not the uncertain future.
3. The “Stop, Look, and Listen” technique.
This technique can quickly break the grip of worry or anxiety:
- STOP: First recognize and accept that you are feeling worried or anxious. Mentally say “STOP” in your mind. Begin belly breathing to slow down the tirade of nervous reactions. Often, an initial flux of emotions will die down in the body within about 90 seconds. Buy yourself some time to let this happen, and then recover.
- LOOK: For a full five minutes, focus on the external world rather than your internal feelings of discomfort. Look for details of things around you and even consider naming what you see.
- LISTEN: Talk calmly and reassuringly to yourself, as you would to a best friend having a hard time. Say an affirmative phrase such as, “This, too, shall pass!” or, “All is well!”
Learn more about Tristan and her upcoming book at her website.
Check out these other Psych Central pieces to quell worrying and anxiety:
- Learning deep breathing
- 3 unique exercises to stop worrying
- 3 practices to calm an anxious mind
- How to start meditating
- How to train your brain to alleviate anxiety
- Managing emotions more effectively