The Draining Worry Habit and How to Overcome It

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
Swedish Proverb

One of the most common and subtly – or not so subtly – destructive habits people get wrapped up in must be worrying.

It has certainly been one of my biggest issues.

I get a lot of emails from people feeling that they worry too much about work or their loved ones and they create create elaborate and negative scenarios in their minds. And it sucks so much energy from them.

In the past few years I have become pretty good at handling worry quickly when it pops up. And to keep it far from my mind most of the time.

And I’d like to share my most effective tips with all of you that may have this draining habit in your life. I truly hope you’ll find something that helps in this article.

Stay in the present moment and today.

Worries come from imagining how things will go terribly wrong sometime in the future. They become bigger as you spend time building elaborate scenarios in your mind. And can become even bigger as you replay that one bad event from your past over and over in your mind and fear that it will be your reality in the future this time too.

When you spend too much of your energy and time imagining the future or reliving the past then that often leads to a lot of worries.

So an important key to drastically less worries is to not spend more time than necessary there and to spend most of your time in the present moment and on this current day.

Two of the most powerful tips I use to do that are:

  • Just take care of today. When you start your day or when worries start to cloud your mind then sit down for a minute. Breathe. Then narrow your focus greatly. Don’t look forward because then you’ll see all the things you have to do to, for example, reach a goal. Instead, focus on just taking care of today. Nothing more. Tomorrow will come in time. And then you will take care of that today too.
  • Tell yourself: now I am… As I do something I simply tell myself this in my mind: Now I am X. For example, if I am brushing my teeth, then I tell myself: Now I am brushing my teeth. If am writing then I tell myself: Now I am writing. It is easy to drift away to the future or past. This phrase keeps me grounded in the present moment and in today.

Ask yourself: How many of the things you feared would happen in your life did actually happen?

Most things you fear will happen never happen. They are just monsters in your own mind. And if they happen then they will most often not be as painful or bad as you expected. Worrying is most often just a waste of time.

This is of course easy to say. But if you remind yourself of how little of what you feared throughout your life that has actually happened you can start to release more and more of that worry from your thoughts.

So whenever I am struck with worries, I ask myself this question and I remind myself of how little of the things that I have worried about over the years that have actually become real. I find that this most often calms me down.

Refocus your mind from the powerless worrying to how you can solve the situation.

To move out of worry I find it enormously helpful to just start moving and taking action to solve what I am concerned about.

And the simplest way to do so is to think for little while and to come up with one thing I can do to start solving this worry inducing situation. And then to start doing that in small steps to keep discomfort, fear and procrastination away until the situation is under control or not an issue anymore.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I have just bookmarked the site. This is awesome thinking….

  • Abhay

    Nice article !

  • Great advice.. thank you for sharing :)

  • Ilze

    Thank you for all that you are doing to help humankind. You are a wonderful person, and I really enjoy reading your blog. I found it exactly at the time when I needed it most. Once again, thank you.
    Warm regards, Ilze

  • Thank you for the text, I like your points and they are true.
    I also like the methods the current Dalai Lama teaches us.

    If you are worried about something;
    ask yourself if you can do anything about it
    if yes, think about what is the best thing you can do and DO IT.
    if you cant do anything about it, there is no more need to worry.

    I think it’s also based on accepting the state of the present and because of this you experience the Now much better. Like you also stated!


  • Thanks for these words! I so often go absolutely crazy worrying about things that never come into fruition. I respect your idea of telling yourself what your doing and staying “in the moment”. This article has gotten me thinking differently. I am going to take the advice and give it a try, its not going to hurt to do so. Thanks again and keep writing.

  • Abhishek Pathak

    Thanks Henrik for sharing this. I often put myself under pressure because of negative thoughts. I am 26 years old, so i am learning new things, but sometimes i loose control over my behavior but reading your blog gives me lots of positivity.

    Abhishek Pathak