How To Train Your Brain To Stop Worrying

From a point of view of your mental health, worrying is an unnecessary evil.  While some believe it is a bad habit, others maintain that it can help you learn from the past experiences and prepare for new ones.

Yet, it is a fact that worrying is undoubtedly focusing on the uncertainty in life, the future we cannot actually control. explains:

“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 many different things, 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 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.”

Now, here are some useful tips to help you train your brain and stop worrying:

1. Writing Down

This is a useful strategy- just put all that worries you down on paper. This will signal the brain to relax and save energy, but it will also mean that it is something it needs to remember as important. 

The journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping published a study which involved worriers who were asked to write down three possible outcomes for worrisome situations. According to their answers, scientists concluded:

“When participants’ problem elaborations were rated for concreteness, both studies showed an inverse relationship between the degree of worry and concreteness.

The more participants worried about a given topic, the less concrete was the content of their elaboration. The results challenge the view that worry may promote better problem analyses. Instead, they conform to the view that worry is a cognitive avoidance response.”

2. Exercise

Worrying is a mechanism of the body to survive by deciding whether or not to activate the fight-or-flight system. The journal Psychosomatic Medicine published a study which showed that exercise relieves the symptoms of anxiety and reduces stress.

It also lowers blood pressure and gives the body a secondary reason for the rapid heart rate and perspiration we feel while worrying. So, whenever you are stressed and overthinking, just take a 10-minute walk in nature, and you will return home in a much better mood.

3. Meditation

Meditation is an excellent way to release tension and anxiety and stop worrying. It reduces cognitive anxiety and calms the mind. Everyone has time to meditate- you can simply close your eyes for 30 seconds, tune out all the sources of stress, and relax.  The art of brain-training teaches you to observe your worrisome thoughts as they enter the mind and watching them pass like clouds on a breezy day.

To conclude with the words of Alexander L. Chapman, Kim L. Gratz, and Matthew T. Tull in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anxiety:

“One of the reasons human beings tend to get so attached to and caught up in worrisome thoughts is that we “buy into” these thoughts as literally true. Rather than recognizing that these worries are simply thoughts our minds generated that may or may not be true or accurate, we believe our thoughts and take them to be the truth.

Therefore, labeling a thought as just a thought is one way to keep yourself from buying into your thoughts or responding as if they were true.”