3 Simple Habits Unlock How to Train Your Brain to Stop Worrying
7 minute read
The future is unpredictable, and it makes us worry from time to time. While idling over various concerns can help you find a resolution to them, the other side of worry can be truly detrimental.
The problem with worry is that stresses your brain and can harm your mental health. In the end, anxiety doesn’t even do anything to change what you are worried about.
It essentially is a bad habit, and, thankfully, it is a habit you can learn to break.
The Worries of Worrying
Worrying is thinking about future things or events that you cannot control. Some people believe that worry serves as a reminder of past experiences and is a way to prepare for future ones.
Trying to add this positive spin to it doesn’t make it better for your brain. Worry is unhealthy because it prevents your brain from focusing on essential functions and things that you can change and control.
Anxiety and depression are strongly linked because of worry and the diagnosis rate for these two mental health problems increases daily. Worry about an uncontrollable future causes anxiety and worry about things you did in the past causes depression.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States affecting close to 40 million adults and depression affects around 16 million. Both of these are treatable right from the comfort of your own home.
It is understandable to think ahead and want to plan a future and with this comes the potential of being afraid. We can never know for sure what is coming no matter how much we plan, but you can prepare yourself in a healthy way.
There are methods you can use to protect your brain. You can learn to prepare for your future without worrying.
1. Write It Down
A very efficient method for dealing with worry is to write everything down. When you have one of those nights where thoughts are just racing through your head and you cannot sleep, grab a pen and paper and write those thoughts down.
By putting the thoughts on paper, your brain gets the mental relief it seeks, and you don’t have to try and remember those ideas or thoughts anymore.
When you’re planning that summer party, write your thoughts down to store them somewhere other than your brain. You will find that you rest easier.
When you write down your worries, it is a signal to your brain that this is something that is important. Your brain needs to focus on solving the problem of developing a solution. Once written down, there is no need to worry, and your brain can shift focus from remembering to problem-solving.
When you worry all the time, you risk developing a problem of chronic avoidance. Fear of what you cannot control stops you from even trying.
A recent study asked people to write down three possible outcomes to a situation they were worried about and then analyzed these solutions with the inclusion of more practical outcomes.
The more a person worried about something, the less concrete the content of their elaboration was, confirming that worry is true, a cognitive avoidance response.
Used for centuries by Buddhist monks, meditation is a proven technique for relaxing your brain and staying worry-free. Countless studies have confirmed the positive effects meditation has on brain health.
Most people think they do not have time to meditate, but this is because they envision having to go somewhere and sit for a lengthy period.
You can successfully meditate right where you are sitting. You may not think you have the time, but would thirty seconds right now really hurt anyone?
Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing only. This is a perfect way to start incorporating meditation into your life. When thoughts pop into your head, you just refocus yourself back to your breathing. The more you practice, the easier it gets. And the more your brain learns to relax.
Of course, our environments are filled with stress. You help yourself and your brain by keeping all your sources of stress away whenever you can. When you can’t avoid them, you meditate through them.
When you can pull yourself mentally away from what is going on and truly relax your mind, the health of your brain improves. You can prevent the development of mental health diseases.
When your brain senses danger, your body is activated into a natural response known as the “fight or flight” response. This is done so you can physically escape any danger. Your body releases adrenaline when you are in a life-threatening situation to help you.
Worry or fear causes the same reaction because your brain cannot tell the difference between a physical and imagined threat.
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Exercising is a wonderful way to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety that come from the surge of adrenaline. While meditation can calm your mind, exercise calms your body.
When your body no longer feels the physical symptoms of stress, your mind learns that there is no reason to worry. It can retreat from a state of increased arousal.
A regular exercise routine helps your body experience a positive use of adrenaline so that it can better handle the ones associated with worry.
Your heart rate increases, as does shallow breathing, when you are anxious or worried. Exercise helps to reduce both.
You can also reduce your blood pressure which increases in response to stress and can also contribute to stress. Sometimes you will not even know the cause for your worry, and this is when an exercise is a great tool.
Step away for a moment and go for a walk, enjoying what is around you. Whatever was troubling you will fade away from your brain’s focus, allowing you to relax.
The Bottom Line
As natural as worrying comes to us, it is something that can easily get out of control. When this happens, your brain is not able to function at optimal levels, putting your mental and physical health at risk.
Trying these simple techniques can reduce the amount of time you spend worrying and improve brain health. Just think of all that you can achieve when your brain is freed up from worrying.