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How Can I Stop Worrying?

Updated on September 8, 2016
denise.w.anderson profile image

An Education Specialist, Denise teaches the principles of Emotional Health for the establishment and maintenance of high quality families.

Worry takes away our ability to see life from a positive perspective.
Worry takes away our ability to see life from a positive perspective.

Are you worried?

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"My stomach just won't stop churning!"

"I wake up in the night and my mind comes alive with all sorts of thoughts."

"I can't seem to concentrate. I lose track of what I am doing."

"I don't want to go there. Last time I did, things did not go well for me."

These statements sound like they are stress related, but in reality, they come from worry. Things are happening in our world that seem out of our control, and in the back of our mind, little red flags are going up. Our body reacts similar to when we are faced with a dangerous situation. Our stomach secretes more acid, our muscles get tense, and our mind is on the lookout for a way to escape.

Worry can be a stressful experience, and is often the cause of long-term health issues. The following paragraphs help us to understand what worry is, where it comes from, and how we can stop it.

...there are those of us who are incessant, chronic worriers. We worry about all the negative things that could happen, but usually don’t....

— Paul H. Dunn

What is worry?

According to the Google dictionary, worry is allowing ourselves to "give way to anxiety or unease" or allowing ourselves to "dwell on difficulty or troubles." Synonyms are "fret," "agonize," "overthink," and "panic."

When we worry, we project ourselves into the future and think about all the things that might happen if something goes wrong. Worry is often a secondary emotion. We feel fear or anger and when these emotions are left unresolved, we continually think about the problem and our thinking processes become flawed. We know it is worry when physical symptoms manifest themselves. See the table below for examples:

Body System
Nervous System
Gland System
Stomach rumbling
Digestive System
Loose stools
Musculo-Skeletal System
Muscle tension and pain
Cardiovascular System
Racing heart

Where does worry come from?

Worry can be a symptom of several different issues:

1) not accepting our present circumstances

Focusing on the imperfections of our current circumstances often leads us to choose to live in the future instead. We set aside the now and decide what we want to have happen, and then live as if it already has. This gives rise easily to misunderstandings and regret.

2) thinking that our needs will not be met

One of the main issues with worry is our lack of trust that our needs will be met. We know from past experience that when certain things happen, our needs are sacrificed. Our mind grabs hold of these insecurities and blows them out of proportion. Rather than doing what it takes to make sure our needs are met, we live in constant anxiety that they will not be.

3) lack of trust in what we perceive to be a flawed system

Worry can come from our perceptions of how things work. When we don't see the system working in our favor, we live in constant state of anticipation toward a negative outcome that eats away at our feelings of well-being until we become physically ill.

4) unbelief in a higher power

Worry at its worst comes from our lack of faith in a God who loves us and cares for us. Perhaps bad things have happened in the past, and we are unsure of where we stand with God, or begin to wonder if he is even there. We don't know where we can turn for stability and strength, therefore, we automatically worry.

Worry is the automatic result of our lack of trust and the distorted thought patterns we use to cover it up.
Worry is the automatic result of our lack of trust and the distorted thought patterns we use to cover it up.

How do we stop worry?

We can only stop worry when we understand the thought patterns that lead to it. They include the following:

  • What if questions

We wonder what will happen if others reject us or we fail to meet expectations that have been set for us. Although we don't know that these things can and will happen, we think that they might, therefore, we project ourselves into the situations. We see the outcomes as negative, and this undermines our feelings of self-worth. There are two ways to stop "What if..." questions. We can either go so far as to make them ridiculous, and then laugh at ourselves, or simply say "Stop!" in our minds. The key is to realize that these types of questions are not realistic and we just don't have to go there!

  • Assumptions

We often base our plans on assumptions that we make. We think we know what other people are thinking, therefore, we assume we know. Unfortunately, this leads to misunderstandings and problems as our assumptions are most often colored with negativity. We assume the worst rather than trusting in the best. In order to stop assumptions, we must check them out. If we think we know what someone else is thinking or doing, we ask, and get the story straight from them. That way, the information we use to make decisions will be founded on fact rather than fantasy.

It has been from the beginning and it will be till the end that the natural man will have a tendency to rationalize and to blame his behaviors on others or on certain circumstances.

— L. Lionel Kendrick
  • Exaggeration

Just like a news reporter that is looking to sell a story, we make reality look bigger than it really is. We skew the details to make it sound more sensational in order to get a reaction out of others. This practice quickly escalates our worry to the point of anxiety. The key to stopping exaggeration is in recognizing it for what it is. Like stopping a run away horse, it is necessary to rein in our desire to be the biggest and the best, even if it is in telling the negative! Once we accept things the way the really are, there may be no reason to worry!

  • Blaming or faultfinding

Lack of acceptance of our current circumstances often takes on the guise of blaming someone else for what is happening to us. It puts the control out of our hands, and leaves us wondering just how things are going to work out. We take on a victim mentality, weak and vulnerable to the whims of others. In order to stop blaming or faultfinding, it is necessary to accept our own role in where we currently are. This may be difficult, and takes humility. It means looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking some soul searching questions about our own strengths and weaknesses.

  • Doubt

Doubt is probably the number one reason for worry. We doubt God's love for us. We doubt that we have the strength to face what we are going through. We doubt that others have feelings of esteem for us, and we doubt that there is any hope for the future. The anecdote for doubt is a strong dose of faith: faith that God is really there, that he loves us as his children, and that he wants what is best for us. Once we base our actions on these undeniable truths, our world changes color from negative to positive. We trust that all things will work together for our good.

As we turn to God in faith, the world takes on a much brighter future.
As we turn to God in faith, the world takes on a much brighter future.

When we worry, the world takes on a myriad shades of gray. We loose the brightness of hope that allows us to see the good around us, and our feelings of self-worth hit an all-time low. Recognizing and refuting the distorted thought patterns that make up our worry breaks through this film of negativity and allows the sun to come through brightly.

We are able to go forward with our lives, knowing that all things will work together for our good, and that even when there are difficulties or problems, we have the ability to work through them and move on.

Our emotional health becomes an anchor for positive action and we live in such a way that we become a blessing in the lives of those around us. Whereas before, worry would drag us down, we now have the time and energy to enjoy life.

Stop worry today, for your emotional health!

©2016 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. For more information on emotional health, see


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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 12 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Wow, Lisa! I relate! I felt that way when my first daughter left home! You are right, so many other emotions result when worry gets out of hand. I am glad that I could write something that helped. My thoughts and prayers are with you! Thanks for your comments.

    • nybride710 profile image

      Lisa Kroulik 12 months ago from Minnesota

      This article stood out for me because I find myself sick with worry over my 20-year-old daughter driving 800 miles alone for college and living away from home for the first time. That spirals into other emotions that are difficult to control. I don't want to be "that mom." Thank you.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 14 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      You are so right, Devika! If you are able to not worry, you have conquered one of the worst difficulties of life! Thanks for commenting!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 14 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I try not to worry about what I know is out of my hands. My mother often worried and that is not good for anyone's health.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It is good that you were able to make that decision from the example that she set for you, Glenn. I am hoping that my children have done the same! We have been able to talk about my issue with worry, and most of my children do their best to reassure me that things will work out. Perhaps that is simply all I need, since I do not recall my parents doing that for me as a child. You are way ahead by not adopting a worry mentality! I appreciate your comments!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 15 months ago from Long Island, NY

      My mother was a worrier and the things you mention describe her perfectly. Thanks to your hub I have a better understanding of her now, but I'm glad I never became a worrier. Life is so much easier that way. I know, because I saw how my mother put herself through so much stress.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      That is what happens to me when I worry, Dianna. You are right, it is not good for our health! Choosing to have faith and hope gives us the confidence we need to move forward rather than cowering in a corner. I appreciate you sharing your experiences!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 15 months ago

      I used to worry myself into a frenzy when I was younger. It is not good for your health at all. I found facing fears and concerns takes faith and hope for tomorrow. Your photo says it all for me -- Faith is the road we travel on our journey back to God. Blessings, dear friend.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thank you, Audrey! I appreciate you sharing your experiences with these effective techniques. Prayer is indeed the key to heaven, and our faith unlocks that door. When we look to God for help rather than allowing our minds to dwell on worrisome thoughts, we feel much better about ourselves.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 15 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      The first thing I do when a negative thought enters my mind is to say "STOP." (Lately I've had a good deal of practice doing this. :) Your hub is educational and extremely helpful Denise. It's the best I've come across - ever! God is my comforter. Prayer works wonders for me. I was taught to talk to my Father-In-Heaven as a very young child. Prayer is a priceless gift to each of us - and it's free.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      That is a good way to deal with worry, Mike. When we know our limits, we are a lot less prone to think that we can do better and be more, and are able to be content with the life we have. The ability to accept that we are not in control of things is key when it comes to "letting go" and letting God do his work in our lives. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Billy, you are one of the priceless individuals who has made his peace with God and the world! If more of us did that, we would worry a lot less! I pray for Bev, that she will be able to deal with the stresses and worries she has and be able to have a healthy, productive life. She is blessed to have you! Thanks for commenting!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I believe that there is, Dora! I get them frequently, especially when I am going through transitions! It is no fun waking up in the morning with a headache and a gut that won't settle down! The physical symptoms are a sure sign that worry is problematic. We have to sit ourselves down and have a "Come to Jesus" meeting, as a friend of mine called it. Then we can recognize the distorted thought patterns and where they are coming from. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 15 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      That is what happens to me when I worry, Eric. I get really bogged down and the physical symptoms sky rocket. I think that the scripture you are referring to is Matthew 6:25-30 where Jesus says, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Then he goes on to talk about the birds and how he cares for them and are we not much better than they? I appreciate your comments!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bev is a worrier. Bev has stress problems. Bev will have health problems if she doesn't get a grip on it. I'll pass this along to her since I live virtually worry-free. Thanks for the article.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

      Sometime I tell myself that I'm not worrying, but one (or more) of my systems seems to say that I am. Is there such a thing as a worry hangover?

      Your article is very helpful on pointing out both the cause and the cure. "The 'antidote' for doubt is a strong dose of faith." This is an ongoing struggle, even as we move forward.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I just love Mat 5:23 - 35 (I think) about worry and being anxious. You do a great job here in walking us through this horrible crippling problem of worry. Oh my, sometimes I just feel like my feet are stuck in deep mud. So afraid that I might do wrong that I just don't do anything. Thank you

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 15 months ago

      Good article. What helps me when I feel worried is letting go and realizing I don't really control anything. I can only do what I can and the rest is beyond me. I guess I know my limits.