Counsellor Sarah Barr shares tips on analyzing our own worry thoughts and how to stop them.

  • What are worries?

Worries are just thoughts and thoughts are not fact. They have no reality. Worries begin when we ask, “What if…” then the mental torture and worst case scenarios begin. With very little evidence to say this scenario will actually happen, after all we can’t foresee the future.

Tips on how to stop worrying as much:

  1. Postpone Worry.
    It is really hard to be productive on a daily basis when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts.
    Telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work for long. Distraction can also be short-lived. Sometimes trying to stop worrying thoughts can make them stronger.Test this out for yourself: Close your eyes and picture a pink elephant. Once you can see it in your mind, stop thinking about it. For the next 60 seconds, don’t think about a pink elephant! Did you think about a pink elephant? “Thought stopping” backfires because it forces you to pay extra attention to the very thought you want to avoid.

    Postponing worry focuses on telling yourself “I will worry about that later”.
    a). If a worrying thought comes into your head during the day, write it down and then carry on with  your day. Tell yourself you’ll have time to think about it later, so you don’t need to worry about it  now.
    b). Choose a time in the evening, not too near your bedtime and if the thoughts you wrote down are still bothering you, allow yourself time to think and to challenge them (see tip 4 on how to challenge your thoughts).
    Postponing worrying is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on your worries.

  2. Can you solve the problem?
    Research shows that while you’re worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your feelings and makes you feel like you’re getting something accomplish This is just an illusion.
    Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with steps to deal with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying rarely leads to solutions.Is the problem something you’re facing, or a “what-if” scenario?
    If the problem is a what-if, how likely is it to happen?
    If there is a solution, make a list of all the possible solutions. After you’ve evaluated your options, make a plan of action. Then put your plan into practice, instantly this will decrease your worry.                                                                                  
  3. Accept.
    By focusing on the worst-case scenario will not stop bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. By learning to accept and to live with a certain level of uncertainty will help lower your worrying/anxious thoughts.Ask yourself the following:
    Is it possible to be certain about everything in life?
    Is needing certainty in life helpful and unhelpful?
    Do you tend to predict that bad things will happen just because they are uncertain?                                                                                                                                                                               
  4. Challenge
    If you suffer from chronic anxiety or worry, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more dangerous than it really is. These irrational beliefs are known as cognitive distortions. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is a technique used by some counsellors to help the client better manage and live with this type of thinking pattern.What’s the evidence that the thought is true?  Is my thought based on feelings or facts?
    What would I say to a friend who had this worry?                                                                                        
  5. Mindfulness.
    Worrying is usually focused on the future. Mindfulness is based on being fully aware in the here and now, the present. It is a technique based on observing your thoughts and then letting them go.The strategy involves: Acknowledging and observing your anxious thoughts and feelings. Don’t try to ignore, fight, or control your thoughts. Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, your breathing, your emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind.
    If you find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment. A great Mindfulness App to check out is ‘Headspace’.

At times we all may need a little extra help and support to deal with our thoughts and feelings. This is okay, and there is no shame in seeking it. CBT is an excellent technique in helping to combat those worrying and anxious thoughts.

For more details or to book for a free consultation ‘Coffee & Chat’, contact me through my Facebook page or call 086 4477867.

I now have evening and weekend availability in both Moville and my new premise in Glencar, ‘New Beginnings Wellness Hub’. The Wellness Hub, will be offering a range of therapies which will be announced shortly on my Facebook page.

Take Care ~ Sarah Barr.