- “Does my client respect my work?
- “How secure is my job? Will they extend my contract when it ends in October?”
- “Will my 4 year old get a good enough education if she attended public school in San Francisco? Will she get into a good school?”
These are just a few of my worries today. Worrying is a natural human emotion and everyone experience it. So it is ok to worry. What matters is how long you spend worrying in a day? A few minutes is normal. Prolonged worrying (for hours and days) is counterproductive and detrimental to your well being. Nothing really gets solved or prevented from pro-longed worrying. All you are doing when you are worried all the time is wasting time and freaking yourself out in the process.
So how do you stop worrying? Well, telling yourself to stop worrying NEVER helps. I hate it when I share my worries with others and people tell me “Don’t worry. It will all work out.” Well, duh, I would have stop worrying if it was that easy. Simply telling myself to not worry does NOT help and can sometimes even aggravate the situation.
Here are 5 tips I learned that can help anyone to stop worrying and be effective again
- Take action early – You are already taking this step. The fact you searched on Google about how to stop worrying or a topic similar to that and are reading this article means you are taking action to stop worrying. The earlier you take this action the easier it to stop worrying because worry can fester in the mind. If you let it be there too long, it can take over your entire thinking about everything in your life. You may start with worrying about one thing but the longer you stay worried, the sooner you will start looking at everything in your work and life with a worried lens. That will simply compound the issue and leave you powerless.
- Know root cause of your worry – What do I mean? For example, if my worry is “does my client respect my work?” the root causes of my worry may be a few things “I may lose my job if my work is not valued” or “What if my skills are rusty after taking time off to have kids? Does this mean I am less marketable in the job market?” Ultimately, this means I am worried that “if I lose my job, can I found another one easily and with same or better pay?” Being aware of the fundamental root cause of your worry is necessary in order for you to learn how to stop worrying
- Set a low bar for success – Sometimes we worry because we want everything to be perfect and when one thing happens where that perfection is put in question, we immediately start to worry. For example, if I have a bad meeting with my client where she seemed to question everything I do, I can start worrying. If my bar for success is perfection, then I can start focusing unnecessarily on one bad meeting right away and start thinking negative what ifs – like what if I lose my job? Well, in fact, bad meeting happens. No one is ever laid off for one bad meeting. So when I say set a lower bar for success, what I mean is forgiving myself for small missteps. They happen to all of us. Instead look for ways where you are successful already. With one bad client meeting, you had actually four good ones this week. Now your perspective can change. Don’t need to really worry until the boss actually says she is concerned about your work. She hasn’t ever said that. Set a low bar for success will help you stop imagining the worst with every little misstep that may happen.
- Plan for worst case scenario – We worry because we want to avoid the worst case scenario – get laid off, not being able to pay for mortgage etc… When we worry, we are constantly controlled by these possible negative thoughts. I say, instead of having them control you. Take control and plan accordingly. What if the worst things did happen to you? I can tell you that you will survive somehow. By figuring out what you would do if the worst happens, you can start alleviating the fear of it happening and therefore reduce your worry. For example, if you are worried about losing your job, figure out what you would do, if you did lose your job. How would you do your job search etc? If you have found a job once, you will find another one again.
- Let go – lastly let go of things that you cannot control. You cannot control whether the company will do a big layoff or not so there is no benefit in worrying about it. You can rest on the knowledge that you are doing everything you can #1-4 above and at some point you just need to say to yourself “come what may.” This will allow you the presence of mind to appreciate what you do have today without constantly worrying about what you may lose.
At the end of the day, humans are survivors. We can get through almost anything. We obviously don’t want unpleasant experiences in our lives but worrying about maybe encountering them is also an unpleasant experience in itself. Remember the big picture. Life is short . So do whatever you can to enjoy the life you have. I believe in you and in that you can take on anything life can throw at you. Best wishes in your work and life.
Your comments: What are your worried about today? Do these tips help you become more productive and less stressed? I look forward to your comments below. Thanks.