Worrying is bad for your health and bad for your social life. But sometimes you may feel like you can't help but worry about some things, right? Try this advice from the Ladies' Home Journal to put those worries behind you.
Share Your Fears - "When you keep your concerns to yourself, they can grow out of proportion," Dr. Hallowell explains. Run your worries by someone you trust and you open yourself up to a different perspective.
Keep a freak out diary - "Notice each time you're worrying, write it down and identify what you're afraid of, as well as the outcome you envision," says Dr. Borkovec. Most of the time events play out much better than expected. But if they don't, you'll have the opportunity to examine how well you coped. "95 percent of the time worriers are impressed with their ability to face challenges," he said.
Set up a worry free zone - Dr. Borkovec suggests using a time during the day - maybe lunchtime - and designating it as totally worry-free. If you notice any worry during that time, set it aside for later. Over time you can add more hours to your stress-free zone. A related technique is to choose one specific time to worry from five to 5:30 in the afternoon, for example.
Get the facts - Information can ward off panic. If you're nervous about a mole on your forearm, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. It helps to recognize when you're making judgments based on simply worry, not facts, says Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Yale University and author of "Women Who Think Too Much." Getting as many of the real facts as you can calms you down. One study found that knowing more details about upcoming surgery reduced patients' anxiety.
Make a plan - If past failures keep you up at night, try to let them go. "Whatever happened in the past isn't going to change no matter how much you worry about it. Accept it and move on by coming up with a plan to prevent it from happening again," suggests Dr. Borkovec. This way you assume control over the situation. The more you put yourself in control, the less you'll fruitlessly mull over the what-ifs.
Breathe deeply - Since worriers have a hard time staying in the here and now, take deep breaths to plant yourself in the present. Inhale slowly and deeply into your abdomen, not your chest, then focus on exhaling. You can use this technique anywhere to remain calm. Studies show that deep breathing lowers blood pressure and slows down your heart rate.
Visualize a happy outcome - If you become anxious while thinking about your yearly mammogram, picture the technician walking into the waiting room to tell you everything is fine. You can dissolve your anxiety just by holding this scenario in your mind's eye.
Gaze into a crystal ball - If you insist on looking into the future, Dr. Leahy suggests that you travel through an imaginary time machine and ask yourself: "How will I feel one month after this happens if it happens?" Most worriers who take the mental journey end up saying, "I can't remember what I was even worried about."