How To Stop Worrying About Everything [5 Timeless Tips]13 min read

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I’ve always been a worrier – it’s a bad habit – always thinking about how things might go wrong, often repetitively and uncontrollably. But, I’m getting better at controlling it. 

Many people get buried in more and more worries as they grow older. This is because we go from teenagers who enjoy playing cards with friends to adults who need to handle bills, work, manage complex relationships, and confront life’s tough realities – like death, natural disasters, rising costs, and so on.

Worrying is automatic because our minds are constantly conjuring up the worst scenarios so we can better prepare for emergencies and what might go wrong. It’s a natural response to the unpredictability of life. But that doesn’t mean we should go on worrying about everything. 

Why you shouldn’t worry about everything 

Whilst it is okay to think about the future and make plans, worrying – which is uncontrollable and repetitive – is often unhealthy and unhelpful.

Worrying adversely affects your health:

Even though worrying is mostly mental, it negatively affects the physical body. When you worry too much, it can trigger the release of stress hormones, which can have a negative impact on your nervous system, muscles, heart, blood sugar, immune system, stomach, intestines, and sexual health.

  • Nervous system: Worrying can make your heart race like a rabbit causing your breath come in short, sharp gasps. It can also make you feel as if you’re constantly on edge, like a cat on a hot tin roof.
  • Muscles: Worrying can cause your muscles to tighten up like a knotted rope, leading to headaches, migraines, and other aches and pains.
  • Heart: Worrying can make your heart feel like it’s going to pound out of your chest. This increases your risk of developing heart disease, heart attack, and even stroke.
  • Blood sugar: Worrying too much can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which can lead to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. It can also make you feel lightheaded and shaky.
  • Immune system: Worrying can make you more likely to catch a cold or the flu. This is because it weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
  • Stomach: Worrying can cause your stomach to churn and your nausea to rise up like a tidal wave. It can also lead to ulcers and acid reflux.
  • Intestines: Worrying can cause your intestines to go haywire, leading to diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems.
  • Sexual health: Worrying can decrease your sex drive and make it difficult to have an orgasm. It can also make you feel like you’re not good enough or that you’re not worthy of love and intimacy. Ouch!

As thought those weren’t bad enough…

Worry doesn’t change a thing:

Because the fact is that you can’t control everything in your life. Yes, things might (I mean, WILL) eventually go wrong in future. But, for now, it hasn’t (so why torture yourself now with worry). 

Imagine a swing at the park. When you push it away from the middle, it swings back and forth until it stops in the middle again, right? In life, sometimes you have really good times, like when everything is going great (high highs). But guess what? After those good times, you might have tough times when things feel not so great (low lows).

This up and down in life happens to everyone, just like the swing. But when you realize the tough times are part of the ride, you’re mastering life’s challenges, akin to fine-tuning your focus on the movement (i.e. the journey and experience) itself.

The universe craves balance. All that begins eventually ends. Just as the sun rises, it must also set. The ocean’s roars herald its inevitable calm. 

And we have little or no control over all these. 

So, instead of worrying (thinking about everything and feeling anxious they might go wrong), keep calm and FOCUS (on only thing things you can control) whilst making peace with the fact that things can actually go wrong. And, that is okay! 

The Power of Focus In Controlling Your Worry

Focus, as Dan Koe puts it, is conscious attention — i.e. paying full attention to your surroundings, mostly to the bigger picture. 

Worry, on the other hand, is when your attention gets stuck on the small things – the troubling thoughts and fears.

Instead of worrying about the past or future, focus on the things you can control – like your self-improvement and preparation.

Instead of fretting over poor semester results, concentrate on the path to becoming studious and potential within your effort.  

Focus is how you use your attention to make the best out of life.

Worrying is how you use your attention to feel anxious and troubled about the events in your surroundings.

To focus more and worry less; you must change your perspective and perception. 

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How to use perspective and perception to worry less 

Your troubles are personal, yet they’re widespread. Meaning that every living thing has troubles.  

Nearly everyone faces emotional, mental, social, spiritual, intellectual, and financial challenges, each unique in timing and intensity. You can’t avoid them. 

You can worry, get anxious, and overthink your problems, yet they will persist until you do something about them or refine how you see them. 

But, since you can’t solve all life’s problems, it becomes even more important to control how you see things.

Perspective and perception matter. 

Perspective —it’s how you view your problems, the lens and angles shaping how you see the world and everyone in it.

Perception —it’s how you understand things seen through your lens; it’s the meaning you give them. 

For instance, imagine a dense forest, When you press your nose to a single tree, all you see is its rugged bark. It’s natural to fret over these insignificant details.

However, take a step back, broaden your perspective, and the scenery undergoes a remarkable transformation. 

Suddenly, you find yourself immersed in the magnificence of the entire forest. This is where intricate patterns unfold, with birds composing symphonies from the treetops, insects harmonizing in a chorus below, and the entire ecology engaging in a majestic dance of life. Your perception swiftly deepens and widens, revealing the beauty hidden within.

This is how you can stop stressing about minor disagreements with your friends. You start to realize that these moments can help understand and strengthen your bond when handled with care.

It’s also how you perceive setbacks in your career as valuable learning experiences that eventually guide you toward mastery. Along the way, you’ll find like-minded individuals who share your journey and become your support system.

Worry happens when your mind fixates on fear, trapping you in a fearful box.

With the right perspective and perception you can focus on the things that matter – and, this focus will help you actively engage with life, granting you freedom and joy on your journey.

When you stop worrying, you Start living. 

How to stop worrying about everything in life and start living

I’m not an expert, just someone sharing insights I’ve absorbed from the wisdom of thinkers like Alan Watts, Robert Greene, James Clear, Dan Koe, Ryan Holiday, and more, about the human mind and its world. And below are some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from them concerning overcoming worry:

Think of your mind as a smartphone

Some studies suggest that setting aside time to worry can be a step toward overcoming your worries. 

Much like your smartphone slowing down when cluttered with overwhelming data, your mind and your life can also slow down when weighed down by worries and fears. 

Worrying a bit won’t cause much trouble, but what happens if you let those worries pile up for a week, a month, or a year? 

Your anxiety gets out of control when you let mental clutter build up for too long. It’s much easier to declutter your mind daily than to deal with a year’s worth of mess. This will clear out unnecessary thoughts and make room for a healthier life.

Curate your physical and digital environment 

Your environment is where you spend each day. 

It shapes your behaviour because everything in your environment is fighting for your attention – your phone, your family and friends, even the chattering monkeys in your head. 

One of James Clear’s ideas in his book “Atomic Habit” is that your environment greatly influences your habits. To build good habits, make them obvious in your surroundings. To break bad habits, make them less visible. 

This idea can also be used to reduce your worries.

To do this;

  • Cues for Worrying: Identify the cues or triggers in your environment that prompt worrying. These could be situations, people, specific places, or specific content on social media that tend to make you anxious.
  • Make Worrying Less Obvious: Try to make worrying less visible in your environment. For instance, if hanging out with some folks, going to places like bars, and watching the news frequently about killings triggers your anxiety, limit your exposure to them. 

Reduce exposure to people or situations that consistently contribute to your worrying. This could mean distancing yourself from toxic friends and setting boundaries with individuals who frequently induce stress. 

  • Create a Relaxing Environment: Design a calming environment that encourages relaxation and mindfulness. This might include a cosy corner with soothing colours, soft lighting, music and calming scents like lavender or curate your social media feeds into something inspirational, educational and fun. 
  • Positive Social Support: Surround yourself with friends and family who provide positive social support. Share your worries with trusted individuals who can offer constructive advice and helpful perspective.

Attempting to ride a bicycle underwater or having a fish walk on land doesn’t work.

At times, it’s not about adapting; it’s about staying in a suitable environment for long-term success.

Redesign or move to new surroundings to fit your well-being and goals, just as a fish thrives in water and a cyclist conquers the road.

When considering a redesign or relocation, ensure your new environment is free from harmful influences like drugs, excessive alcohol, and similar temptations. The short-term pleasure they offer pales in comparison to the long-term consequences they can bring.

Focus on what you can control

Imagine you want to plant a garden, but the weather is dry. Yelling and shaking your fist at the sky won’t make it rain.

Instead of wasting time on things you can’t change, like the weather or people’s actions, focus on what you can do. Farm your garden in the planting season. That way, you’ll worry less and get better results!

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .”

Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5

Be Grateful 

Gratitude isn’t about being free from troubles and worries; it’s about directing your attention to the present opportunities.

It’s also recognizing that you stand on the shoulders of a million years of human evolution, where those before you made life easier through their contributions. And when you contrast your situation with the daily struggles of others, you gain perspective and perception of your good fortune.

This leads to humility and empathy. A shift in focus, redirecting your attention from negativity to the brighter aspects of life.

Be grateful for the sunlight, for it brightens your world.

Be grateful for each breath, as it sustains your existence.

Be grateful for your meals, for they fuel your body and soul.

Celebrate life’s simple gifts, and your days will shine brighter.

Don’t worry about the darkness, but appreciate the stars that light your path.

Don’t worry about the occasional pause in your breath, because it reminds you to cherish each one.

Don’t worry about missed meals, because the world offers abundant opportunities for nourishment.

“You’re out in the cold, and you start shivering, Why? Because you’re resisting the cold, you are tightening your muscles against the cold and you get the staggers. Take it easy, go with the cold, and relax.”  

— Alan Watts

Talk To Someone 

Communication is how our species processes and comprehends thoughts and emotions, including worries.

Communication is our sanity’s lifeline –  a kind of rope that helps our minds climb out of chaos. 

The urge to express exists in everyone, even those who are blind, deaf, or mute. This could be your worries, fears, or doubts. Keeping them bottled up might offer temporary relief, but like a pressure cooker, eventually, it will blow.

Speak to someone, anyone you trust, who is capable and rational. It could be a family member, friend, partner, or therapist.

Sharing your worries often exposes you to other people’s perspectives and experiences, providing valuable insights and support.

Conclusion: Worry is a waste of time. Focus on what you can control.

Remember that breaking the habit of worrying may take time and persistence. By consciously adapting your environment and behaviours, you can work towards reducing worry and cultivating a more positive mindset 

Take comfort in knowing no one is free from worries but those who excel are those able to deal with the worries head on. 

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