How to train your brain to stop worrying
A small seed of doubt can grow into a forest of anxiety, which so often feels like being lost in an isolating realm of stress and worry. This feeling has the potential to persist for a long time, and bleed into your personal and professional life, leaving you severely debilitated.
During these periods, it’s important to remember that the brain is an incredibly adaptable organ. Small behavioral changes, have the ability to significantly reduce worry and help you return to your regular, high-functioning self. Here are three wonderfully simple but effective practices, you can implement into your life to calm your anxiety.
Write down your worries
Putting your worries into words transforms the ominous cloud of self-doubt and pity in your head into a tangible problem with potential solutions. Whether it’s a co-worker that’s on your nerves, or not knowing what to wear to a family party, write it down! By translating what’s bothering you into concrete words,you’re better equipped to conceptualize the problem and seek resources to resolve this issue.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago showed that anxious test takers who briefly wrote about their thoughts and feelings prior to writing a test performed better than those who did not. Researchers stress that the key to effectively writing about your worries is to highlight the worst possible outcome for what’s causing your anxiousness.
This practice will allow you to evaluate your insecurities, and effectively navigate how to combat them. It also releases your mind from the toxic, internal back and forth, which provides immediate mental relief.
Practice mindfulness meditation
It should be no surprise by now that meditation has profound healing capabilities. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that the simple act of closing your eyes and listening to your breath improves cognitive function and mental stability.
When you are feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, or just generally anxious, find the time to meditate in whichever way you find comfortable. All that is required is a quiet space and an open mind. Sitting for even two minutes will help you feel more clear-headed, optimistic, and centered.
Channel your stress into exercise
Exercise is just as mentally beneficial as it is physically. Although it is difficult to start, exercising allows you to take ownership and control of your body. This sense of agency prompts feelings of self-worth and transformation that reduce overall stress and worry.
Doctors’ often prescribe regular aerobic exercise to those suffering from anxiety and depression, because it has been shown to reduce the levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain responsible for killing pain and lifting your mood.
It’s only natural to worry, over the stressful situations life presents. What’s important is to not get consumed by the feelings of anxiousness and doubt, caused by worry. These simple practices, are very easy to put to use, and are proven to be incredibly effective. Try them out the next time you find yourself breaking a nervous sweat, and get by with ease!
Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., … & Ranasinghe, P. D. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine, 174(3), 357-368.
Peterson, L. G., & Pbert, L. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Am J Psychiatry, 149(7), 936-943.
Ramirez, G., & Beilock, S. L. (2011). Writing about testing worries boosts exam performance in the classroom. science, 331(6014), 211-213.
Salmon, P. (2001). Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clinical psychology review, 21(1), 33-61.
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