How to Overcome Anxiety Caused by Excessive Worry

How to Overcome Anxiety Caused by Excessive Worry
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Worrying may be helpful when you need to take action and solve a problem. However, excessive worry becomes an issue because it creates doubts and fears that paralyze you, drain your emotional energy, increase your anxiety levels, and generally interfere with your daily life.

Nevertheless, chronic worry is a mental habit that you can overcome by training your brain to stay calm. This means you see life in a more positive light.

Why’s it so hard to stop worrying?

When you worry continuously, your anxious thoughts are fueled by your own beliefs. On the one hand, you might recognize that your worrying is harmful and that you’re going to go crazy. You might even think that it’ll affect your health or that you’re going to lose control over your worries. In fact, worry is a vicious cycle that feeds on itself and never stops growing.

You might find yourself focusing on avoiding bad situations and problems. In this way, you think you’re preparing for the worst by having some possible solutions in mind. Breaking this habit is complicated. That’s because, when you worry excessively, you think your worrying protects you.

In order to end chronic worry and the anxiety generated by it, you must give up the belief that worrying has a positive purpose. Once you discover that worrying is the problem and not the solution, you’re able to regain control of your worrying mind.

worried man hands face

Strategies to overcome anxiety due to excessive worry

To overcome the anxiety caused by excessive worry, you can implement a series of strategies that’ll help you feel better about your problems.

1. Create a worry period

It’s hard to be productive on a daily basis when anxiety and worry dominate your thoughts. Trying to distract yourself by doing other things to avoid thinking about your worries may work for a few moments, but the worry soon comes back again. Sometimes, even more strongly.

In order to cope with your excessive worrying, you might want to create a ‘worry period’. A time you set aside for worrying. It should be at the same time every day and early enough that it won’t cause you anxiety just before bed.

During this worry period, you can worry about everything on your mind. Then, you can have the rest of your day worry-free. However, if you find you still can’t get rid of these thoughts during the day, try postponing the worry by writing down how you’re feeling on a piece of paper. This will remind you to worry about them in your worry period.

During the worry period, review your list of worries and reflect on them. That’ll help you find out if they’re founded or not. Writing about them can help you to organize your ideas. In fact, postponing worrying is effective because it breaks your habit of focusing on them in the present moment and you don’t struggle to suppress your thoughts or judge them.

As your ability to postpone anxiety-producing thoughts develops, you develop more control over your worries.

2. Ask yourself if the problem has a solution

When you’re worrying, you feel less anxious for a few moments. That’s because, while you’re worrying, you’re distracted from your emotions and you feel as if you’ve achieved something. However, worrying and problem-solving are extremely different. Indeed, worrying doesn’t solve anything.

The important thing is to distinguish between your concerns that have a solution and those that don’t. If what worries you has a solution, think about how to solve it and the measures you have to adopt to do so. This makes your worry productive and brings you closer to a solution that frees you from your anxiety.

If the problem that’s worrying you can’t be solved, you must learn not to pay attention to it.

On the other hand, if it can’t really be prevented, you must take action. Don’t think about the consequences. For example, if what’s worrying you is that one day you’ll suffer from a serious illness, look for ways to lead a healthy life that’ll help you prevent it instead of thinking about how to solve what might or might not happen.

3. Accept uncertainty

Your inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in your anxiety and worry. When you constantly worry, you can’t stand doubt or lack of foresight. You see worry as a way of predicting the future and avoiding unpleasant surprises. Nevertheless, it simply doesn’t work that way.

Challenging the intolerance of uncertainty is key to relieving the anxiety of too much worry. To do this, you must reflect and ask yourself if it’s possible to be certain about everything in life. Can you really be certain about everything that’s going to happen? Is it really possible to assess all your options and find solutions to everything?

4. Challenge your anxious thoughts

sad man depression

Worrying excessively means you see everything as far more dangerous than it really is. This causes you to overestimate the possibility of things going wrong and you underestimate your ability to handle problems. In fact, you assume that you won’t be able to overcome them.

These irrational pessimistic attitudes are known as cognitive distortions. They’re extremely difficult to give up. However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. With training, you can do it.

Start by identifying your worrying thoughts in detail. Instead of treating the thoughts as facts, treat them as hypotheses that you’re testing. Because examining and challenging your concerns and fears helps you to develop a more balanced perspective.

5. Be aware of how others affect you

Emotions are contagious. Consequently, those around you affect you much more than you’re sometimes aware of. Keeping a worry journal where you write down the thought that creates anxiety and its trigger helps you to discover patterns. In this way, you’re able to face what causes you worry.

When you discover who the people are who cause you anxiety, you should try to spend less time with them.

This is hard to do. However, it’s a fact that many people, often without malice, unload their problems onto you, or intensify your fears with their attitude. Avoiding them is difficult, but extremely effective.

On the other hand, choosing the people you want to trust with your thoughts is a sensitive area. Look for positive people who help you see things from another perspective, and who don’t complicate your life by giving you more worries than you already have.

6. Practice mindfulness

hand pointing at sunset

Your worries are generally focused on the future, on what might happen. Therefore, focusing on what’s happening in the present helps you release your excess worry about what’s going to happen. It allows you to live in the present moment. This strategy is based on observing your feelings and then letting them go. You can then identify where your thoughts are that are causing you problems while helping you to get in touch with your own emotions.

For this, you must recognize and observe your thoughts and feelings without trying to control anything. Try and see yourself from the outside as if you were observing a stranger. Because letting those thoughts go is easier when you look at them from the outside, without putting up any resistance.

You must stay focused in the present moment. Pay attention to how your body feels, to your breathing, and to your surfacing thoughts. In this way, you can release them and any blockage they’ve caused.

Using mindfulness and meditation to stay focused on the present is a simple concept. However, it takes practice to reap the benefits. Although it can be frustrating at first, you gradually reinforce a new mental habit. This helps you to break free from the cycle of excessive worry.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.