Easing Stress And Worry

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation article stated that “during the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent. What’s more, this is an uptick from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019,” (Kamal, Panchal, Cox, & Garfield, 2021). This may surprise few, as the state of our society has been, on edge, since the beginning of the pandemic. Jobs have been lost, stores are shutting down and norms are changing. We’re spending more time online due to this, which means less human connection and less socializing. An article on NYPost stated that, “before the outbreak, only about 8.3 percent of kids spent six-plus hours in front of screens — and now that number has ballooned by roughly six times to 49 percent of kids spending six hours or more plugged in,” (Algar, 2020). This is yet another concerning issue, as children in our society are spending less time being active and spending more time in the digital realm. 

So what makes us worry? People typically worry because they think something bad will or could happen, so they activate a strategy of worry and believe that if they worry then they will be able to stop something bad from occurring. Part of this is a natural reaction we have developed over hundreds of thousands of years, as humans encounter stressful situations, like needing to find food or defend against a predator, and their bodies and minds kick into a heightened response mode. The logic here is that if you imagine something bad happening, it’s your problem to worry about. This worrying can also affect your physical health, and in some cases can lead to people overpursuing their doctor for just about every ache and pain they experience. Some of the physical repercussions of intense worry include irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, fatigue and pain. Studies suggest that generalized anxiety disorder is often linked with another psychopathological condition, such as depression. A study done in 2008 found that 93% of people with generalized anxiety disorder had an overlapping psychiatric disorder such as depression (Mann, 2008). A little bit of stress and worry is healthy, but once it starts to pile up, it can seem overwhelming and impossible to shake. For these reasons, it only makes sense to dive into how to stop worrying so much. Here are 10 methods you can try to reduce your worrying and take control of your life once again. 

Practice meditation

Meditation can be considered many different things, but ultimately, the goal is to focus on the present moment and clear one’s mind. In order to meditate, one makes an effort to remove all thoughts and simply be. This allows for the person meditating to improve their ability to choose which thoughts they will choose to focus on, instead of having little to no control of these thoughts. To meditate, one switches their thoughts from the worries of yesterday or tomorrow, and instead focuses on the present moment. This can be achieved by focusing on one’s breath, focusing on one’s surroundings, focusing on a word or mantra or simply just focusing on nothing at all. Meditation will help to build concentration and allow for greater control of one’s mind. To get into the meditative state, simply find a quiet space, take a seat and be still for 10 or 15 minutes. There are many applications out there that can help with this process, but my preferred method is focusing on deep breathing for 10 minutes and letting go of all thoughts and worries. 

Schedule a “worry time”

Setting aside a scheduled time every day to get those worries out can be extremely valuable in reducing generalized worrying. Instead of worrying constantly or throughout the day, this method allows for a specified time to worry in a healthy and orderly manner. A number of studies, including one at Penn State University, have shown setting aside a 20 or 30 minute period each day to contain worries, showed a significant decrease in anxiety in just 2 to 4 weeks (Behar & McGowan, 2013). Planning constructive worry for the same  time each day can be helpful in creating an orderly schedule and allowing for a routine that makes worrying easier on the mind. 

Recognize solvable versus unsolvable problems

There are two different kinds of problems that exist, those that are solvable and those that are not. Solvable problems are ones that we have the power to act upon.. For example, often we  have the power to track our expenses and plan our finances. One way to save money is to bring lunch to work.. On the contrary, we cannot predict if we will be laid off from work. We also cannot force someone to ask us on a date or force someone to like us. These are problems that we cannot solve, yet it’s still easy to worry about them. While we cannot control certain situations’ outcomes,  we can focus on what we can control to gain the best chance at obtaining optimal outcomes. In the laid off of work example, we can demonstrate our value to our employers by working hard and minimizing the likelihood of a worst-case-scenario. We must ensure that our worrying is for good reason, and not simply wasted time. Recognize what problems you can solve, what problems you cannot and go from there. 

Write down your worries

It can be beneficial for us to write down our worries on paper or on our devices to determine what exactly we are worrying about. By sorting these into different categories such as financial, personal, social, etc., we can determine where the problems in our lives exist and make an action plan on how to approach these issues. By writing these issues out on paper, we can gain a greater understanding and a more balanced perspective on what exactly our worries are. A great way to go about this method is to keep a worry diary, journaling all worrisome thoughts down into this diary throughout the week to pinpoint what issues you are having and when they are occurring. This can help to pinpoint triggers and reasons for your worries. 

Write down what you’re grateful for

On the contrary to writing down your worries, write down what you are grateful for, such as the things that make you happy and give you strength. You may  surprise yourself when recounting how many things you are grateful for in this world that we live in. Whether it be our family, our friends, our privileges, our rights, our bodies, our minds, our possessions, our goals, our hopes, our past or our future. All of the things we take for granted on a daily basis, provide us with the spectacular life that us humans get to live. It’s easy to forget all these things that we are so lucky to have, so remind yourself what you’re grateful for. Even if it’s the little things that you experience on a daily basis, such as a warm cup of coffee or clean sheets to lie in at the end of the day. 

Make yourself uncomfortable

Many people who worry will actively avoid discomfort. Whether it be hanging out with a new group of friends, speaking publicly or expressing themselves by trying new things. The best way to overcome this is to throw yourself into the unknown, actively seeking to make yourself uncomfortable. Not only will this help to reduce and remove those fears, it will allow yourself to approach any uncomfortable situation and conquer it. By doing this, you will rely less on coping strategies and be able to live freely once again, doing the things you want to do, when you want to do them. 

Express yourself, let your emotions out

It can be beneficial to express the emotions that you have kept stored up within yourself. Allowing yourself to cry or be angry can have an overall positive benefit. When you are crying or angry, you are not worried and you can let yourself feel the feelings you need to feel in order to move on (Mann, 2008).

Remember that it’s often not as bad as you think it will be

Anxiety and worry is about anticipation. The ‘what ifs’ are almost always way worse than how you actually feel when the event happens. Worriers often worry about things they are completely prepared to deal with and conquer, and their ability to handle life challenges is entirely adequate. Quit the worrying and let things be, you got this.

Talk about it

Seeking help to talk about worries with a friend or therapist can help to alleviate your worries. Tell somebody what you’re feeling and allow yourself to be open about why you feel these concerns. Not only will it help to have somebody understand what it is that you’re going through, it will allow for you to move past these worries. It can be particularly beneficial to see a therapist as you will be able to get to the root of the issue.


The following material is provided for informational purposes only and is not designed to prescribe, diagnose, or treat any physical or mental illness. None of the information presented here should be treated as medical or professional advice.


Algar, S. (2020, April 23). Screen time for kids explodes during coronavirus crisis, study says. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from https://nypost.com/2020/04/23/screen-time-for-kids-explodes-during-coronavirus-crisis-study/

Behar, E., & McGowan, S. K. (2013). A preliminary investigation of STIMULUS control training for WORRY: Effects on anxiety and Insomnia, 2013. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0145445512455661

Kamal, R., Panchal, N., Cox, C., & Garfield, R. (2021, February 10). The implications of Covid-19 for mental health and substance use. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

Mann, D. (2008, January 24). 9 steps to end Chronic worrying. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/9-steps-to-end-chronic-worrying

This article was written by Riley Bunce, Jr. Producer at Mindleap.

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