• Gianna Sullivan

Stop Worrying and Be Happy In 5 Steps

Stick man starting starting his 5 steps towards not worrying and being happy
5 Steps to Happiness

How worried are you? The answer to that, many of us question, it depends on what is going on in our world right now. Maybe there is some big issue looming over us that has been causing us to worry. However, you might be reading that question with a sense of dread. It might cause a wave of anxiety to pass over you as you instantly recall all of the worries that have been on your mind. We are all different, but why are some of us natural-born worriers while other people manage to get through life worry-free? How can we stop worrying? To answer both of these questions means accepting one fact; worry is not the enemy. It is OK to be a natural worrier. It is OK not to worry. And it is OK to stop worrying and be happy! In order for us to do this, firstly we must understand and accept worry, and then move on to managing it.

Simple Steps to Stop Worrying and Be Happy

Worry-free written under a torn strip of paper
Worry Free

Work through these steps and writing down anything that comes to mind that you think might help you implement each step. Writing down your responses to the steps will make them so much more effective, so don’t skip this part! Come back to these steps anytime you are struggling or need to refresh your resolve to stop worrying and be happy!

Step 1 - Understand What Worry Is

Stop worrying- word abstract in vintage letterpress wood type with a cup of coffee
Understand Worry to Stop Worrying

Worry is not the enemy; worry is designed to keep us safe. It is the worry that stops us from doing things that might be dangerous or makes us consider the possibilities of a certain thing happening so that we are prepared and can deal with whatever happens. However, we can become stuck in a trap of worrying about things we cannot change and allowing worry to impact our lives negatively. But before we can move past worrying, we need to understand that it is OK to worry sometimes. Worry is your friend. But just as you don’t always agree with everything a friend says, and would never let them control your entire life, so it is with worry!

Step 2 - Accept the Worry

Don't worry be happy written in the sand at a beach
Don't Worry Be Happy

When worry hits, or we feel a wave of anxiety, sometimes the reaction to that sensation is worse than the worry itself. This is because, even if we don’t realize it, we have all kinds of negative thoughts about the worry itself. ‘Oh, no! It’s happening again! I can’t cope with worry! I shouldn’t be worrying! I will make myself ill with all this worrying! What will people think about me if I can’t control my worrying!’. All of these negative associations with worrying are deeply unhelpful, and they make the worry worse. Do you know what’s worse than worrying? Worrying about worrying! Instead, try to accept it. Replace those negative thoughts with, ‘hello again worry, fair enough, it is only natural that I might be a bit worried right now, but I won’t let it get out of hand’. This keeps the worry in perspective and doesn’t allow it to grow. As you get better at managing your worry, this in itself may be enough to enable you to stop worrying and be happy.

Step 3 - Divide and Conquer

Definition of the word Proactive highlighted in green highlighter.
Be Proactive

One of the most constructive ways to stop worrying and be happy is to learn to recognize the worries that are solvable and the worries that are not solvable. Divide the worries into these two camps, and you will soon find that you are much more able to manage them. Ask yourself, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ and be practical in your answer. If you are worried about your future finances, asking yourself what you can do right now to ease this worry might involve making a financial plan, or setting up a savings account. This turns a problem that hasn’t happened yet into a solution that is already in place. So next time this worry crops up, you can immediately remind yourself that you are already taking steps to fix it. Most worries that arise will have some small thing you can do to ease them, even if only a little. You will find that being proactive helps, even if the impact isn’t huge. If a worry comes up, which does not have an obvious thing you can do that might help, then think about how you can take care of yourself in this worrying moment. This worry might not be solved by taking a shower, having a healthy snack, or folding the laundry but these things will not make the worry worse, and they may make you feel better or ease the pressure on you later.

Step 4 - Slow Down and Be Kind to Yourself

Be kind to yourself. Text about taking care of yourself.
Be Kind to Yourself

There are things you can do in everyday life to make it less likely that worries will arise. Mindfulness, slowing down and appreciating the moment you are in, good breathing practice, even engaging in therapy. All of these things can help you get to a place where you aren’t always having to juggle worries because you are simply giving yourself space and time to process your thoughts rationally. This means that they don’t have to come up in a flash of anxiety or wake you in the night. Sometimes people think that staying busy, being distracted, and not allowing yourself to think is the best way to avoid worrying. In fact, worries are even more likely to intrude on your daily life if you are constantly fighting against them and pushing them aside. Allow them; you can even meet them half-way by recognizing that you are anxious about something. Learn to deal with it before it becomes a big deal.

Step 5 - Boost Your Wellbeing

Mindfullness concept vector
Practice Mindfullness

The final step in learning how to stop worrying and be happy is in improving your wellbeing. If you are slowing your thought processes, practicing mindfulness and good breathing, as in the previous step, then this is a great start. You can now increase the feel-good chemicals that help to combat worry and anxiety. To do this, make time for exercise (a great way to boost endorphins), eat well (a good way to help with the physical symptoms of anxiety), and make time for the things and the people you love. Spend time talking with the people you care about (even if you don’t feel ready or able to talk about your worries). If you have any hobbies, don’t neglect them. Make time for self-care. All of these things boost happy hormones, and they send a message to your body that things are OK; there is no need to panic, we can worry and still be OK. And also, we can stop worrying and be happy with no ill effects.