Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

How to stop worrying

Worry is a part of life. We are wired to look out for threat and worry often fills our mind. What if I lose my job? What if I never find love? No one likes uncertainty and many of us believe that the antidote to uncertsinty is to worry. This, of course, is nonsense. Research has proven that worry isn’t directly realted to how successful your life is.

It’s far better to learn to accept uncertainty as we can never have 100% certainty in life. How to stop worrying has nothing to do with adding more certainty to life. It has far more to do with embracing uncertainty, believe it or not.

Rather than avoiding situations that you fear or that make you anxious, you are far better off confronting the uncertainty. Instead of avoidance you NEED exposure to the things/events/situations you fear. For rewiring to occur in your brain you need to get out there and face your fears.

Think about it. If you are frightened of dating because you may get your heart broken, you may decide to avoid dating altogether. By doing this, you are telling yourself that you are unable to cope with the fear and uncertainty. When you avoid, you never reality-test your fears and they will NEVER go away.

When you do it anyway, despite your fears, you teach yourself that you are more capable than you thought. Even if things don’t go according to plan, you realise that you survive and this is what builds confidence.

Anxiety is caused by overestimating the threat (of failure, rejection etc) and underestimating your ability to cope.

Worry and problem solving come from the cortex in the brain whereas anxiety comes from the hypothalamus and the amygdala – the threat radar in our brain. Anxiety based worry tends to occur mainly when someone is in a negative mood which prolongs the state of worrying.

What to do:

Laughing, dancing and exercise are proven strategies to counteract worry. Listen to the song by Queen – Don’t stop me now ( or any other song that lifts you up and makes you feel hopeful and happy). Music can also help with rewiring so get yourself a ‘happy playlist’ and listen to it daily.

Two types of worry:

Real and hypothetical

Hypothetical worry (it’s might happen)- imagining yourself being eaten by a shark when swimming or worrying about the plane crashing wheh you are due to take a flight somewhere – this is POINTLESS.

Real worry – needs your attention now. For example – the washing machine is broken or the plumbing is leaking or the car has broken down. See the difference? Ignore hypothetical worries. Every minute you spend worrying is a minute you have lost when you could have felt happier or more peaceful.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)helps with worry (cortex based worry) but for rewiring in the brain to occur – you need exposure therapy (which is also included in CBT). This means you mustn’t avoid as this will make the fear worse and more unmanageable. Take baby steps towards your fears.

If you fear flying, you don’t have to book a flight immediately. Depending on how severe you r fear is, you could begin by googling information on the safety of planes, take a trip to the airport, and take steps towards your ultimate goal of getting onto a plane and flying. Whatever you do, you must approach your fear – APPROACH behaviour is the key to getting your worry and anxiety under control.

If you feel you really MUST woory, allow yourself designated worry-time. When you catch yourself wprrying, tell yourself (out loud if necessary): “Stop it, I will worry about this later for half an hour beginning at 6pm)”. Then distract yourself.

Another great affirmation is:

I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it

Adopt this approach to life. Be more mindful and in the present moment and don’t allow your mind to drift to hypothetical worries that may never happen.

Ask yourself: how likely is this to happen? Engage your reasonable brain.

Worry can be managed. Remember to approach your fears rather than avoid. Distinguish between real and hypothetical worry. You can do something about real worry but not hypothetical worry.

Mandy X



Photo by Makenna Entrikin on Unsplash