“Stop worrying so much!”
Does this sound familiar? Do you friends and family often say things like this to you?
Everyone worries – it’s part of being human.
However people experiencing anxious thoughts most of the time may be suffering from what is known as a Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
The strain of persistent worrying can cause significant psychological distress, and also interfere with everyday life. Many people with generalised anxiety are unaware of the problem, or that their worrying is out of control, as likely they have worried for many years and don’t really know any differently.
The following checklist can help you understand if your worry is excessive, and if it is worth seeking out professional help.
Do I Worry Too Much?
Tick all the statements that describe you:
- My worry is hard to control; it creeps into my thoughts all day.
- I am so preoccupied with worries that I rarely feel joy anymore.
- I spend a lot of time feeling cornered about the outcome of projects I undertake.
- I worry that every minor health problems I have – or that my partner or children may have – is actually something more sinister, or could develop into a serious illness.
- I have trouble falling or staying asleep.
- I have difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
- I feel tired all the time and my muscles are tense, aching or sore.
- I am indecisive and unable to feel relaxed.
- I tend to focus on upsetting situations or events happening in my life.
If you have ticked several of the above statements, it is highly likely that you do worry excessively compared to most people.
How Can I Stop Worrying So Much?
When an individual is no longer able to shrug off worry, it is time to take charge and learn the skills to manage these excessive worries. With the help of a psychologist, you can learn specific techniques which have been proven to effectively help people to reduce their anxiety levels, and worry less. These may include learning to:
- Stop the chain of anxious thought – When you notice that you are having a thought that causes you to feel worried or anxious, force yourself to stop pursuing that line of thought by telling yourself “STOP”, out loud. Consciously shift your attention from your worries, to relaxed images or thoughts, immediately.
- Live in the present moment – Anxious thoughts are usually future focused thinking. For example, “what if” is a typical question that anxious people ask themselves all the time. As a result they often find themselves imagining all the things that can go wrong, or the worst case scenario. This catastrophizing can create a sense of danger, which in fact does not exist and is usually unlikely to happen. Learning to live in the present moment, allows us to realise that our daily life is mostly peaceful.
- Accept reality – Excessive worrying may be triggered at times when you are experiencing a high level of stress, usually from things over which you have no control: for example, the loss of a loved one, ill health, relationship separation and accidents. The attitude of acceptance is a powerful antidote to feeling stuck. Acceptance does not mean that you are giving up or being negative, rather it shows your courage to accept the painful reality as it is.
Anxiety management skills are new ways of thinking and behaving. In my clinical experience, I have found that people who are willing to devote their time to practise anxiety management skills on a daily basis can experience significant reduction of their worries. Hence, psychotherapy is not “just talking”; rather it is an active learning process, necessary to enhance greater therapeutic outcomes.
If the thought of seeking out the services of a psychologist worries you, it might help to remember that anxiety is one of the most common issues among the people we see. With professional help, you can learn proven strategies and tips to help you stop worrying so much, and enjoy life more!
Author: Claire Pang, B Psych (Hons), Masters of Clinical Psychology.
As a Clinical Psychologist, Claire has been trained in psychological assessment and evidence-based therapies for both individual adults and couples. She is result-orientated, practicing a wide range of therapeutic approaches with great success. Claire has a special interest in couples therapy, and understanding how the patterns of interpersonal difficulties contribute to individual’s emotional and behavioural struggles.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
- Johnson, S (2010). Therapist’s guide to clinical interventions. New York: Academic Press.
- Harris, R (2009). ACT made simple. CA: New Harbinger Publications.
- Andrews, G., Creamer, M., Crino, C., Lampe, L & Page, A. The Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Cambridge University Press.