Worry Only on Paper:
Get a notebook or journal. Whenever you find yourself worrying, write out your thoughts. If you don’t have time to write, tell yourself that you’ll need to wait until you can worry on paper. In the meantime, try to refocus your attention on the task at hand. It may take a while to break of having worry be the “background music” of your mind, but it is worth the effort.
Set time aside in each day to devote yourself to your worries. During this time, you get to worry as much as you want (but be sure to write all the worries on paper.) You will also use this time to try to address the worries.
Addressing the Worries:
Take action! Ask yourself, “What actions can I take to address this worry?” If there is anything you can do, do it!
Example: What if I never find a job? Actions you could take: make a list of your skills, talk to a career counselor, talk to your academic advisors, make a list of jobs that you would like to consider, prepare yourself to acquire more skills…
Most worries start with the phrase “What if…” If you notice that you’re scaring yourself with “What ifs” then counter that with a “So what?” Assess the worst-case scenario and imagine ways that you could cope with it.
Example: What if I fail this test?
Challenge: So what if I do fail the test? That would be really upsetting. But, if I did I could talk to the professor, get a tutor, study harder, drop the course…
Assess the Probability:
Many worries are unlikely to occur. Assess for yourself, realistically, how likely something is to occur.
Example: What if the plane crashes?
Ask yourself: How likely is a plane crash? (1 in several million). So, you have more than a 99.9% of not crashing.
Replace the Worry with a More Realistic Thought:
Work on finding a thought that is realistic and focuses on the actions you can take.
Example A: It may be a challenging job market, but I know that with hard work and determination, I will find a job. It may not be my dream job, at first, but I can keep working until I find one that is. I have many skills and resources I can use.
Example B: I could fail this test. If I did, I’d be really upset. But, I could cope with it in a variety of ways.
Example C: It’s most likely that I will land safely at my destination. Instead of imagining the worst, why don’t I imagine how much I may enjoy this trip?
Take Good Care of Your Health:
There is a strong connection between our minds and our bodies. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, it is essential that you do your best to improve your physical health.
Exercise: When you worry, your body produces stress hormones that have a variety of effects on the body and mind. Exercise helps to metabolize these chemicals and rid them from your system.
Eat Right: Eating a balanced diet gives you the nutrients that your brain needs for proper functioning. Many studies show that nutrient deficiency can be linked to anxiety and depression.
Avoid Caffeine and Refined Sugars: Avoiding these chemicals will give you more even energy levels, help you sleep, and keep your mind from racing.
Make Time for Relaxation: Everyone needs relaxation. Take time for things that you find pleasant, such as reading a book for fun, getting a massage, taking a warm bath, talking a walk in nature, gardening. Make your own list of relaxing activities and be sure do these things more often.