Stop Worrying and Start Living

A little worry is healthy. It keeps us thinking ahead and helps us prepare to work around unexpected misfortune. However, when you worry too much, you make your whole life miserable and burden yourself with a lot of unnecessary stress. Read this wikiHow to learn how to get your worries under control and rekindle your lust for life.


Reducing Sources of Worry

  1. Reduce your collection. Despite the fact that today's technology is smaller and more useful than ever, we all seem to end up surrounded by stuff we no longer use or care about. It can seem like a pain to take the time and trouble to get rid of it, but you'll be glad you did once the task is finished.
    • Get rid of everything you haven't used in a year or more, unless it was either terribly expensive or a family heirloom. Have a garage sale, use eBay, or simply donate your extra dishes, clothes, toys, books, movies, games, and other items to a charity.
      • Expensive and/or heirloom items you haven't used in a long time should be gently boxed up and stored in an attic, a basement, a garage, or even a rarely-used bedroom closet.
  2. Assign space. One of the most common prescriptions psychologists give for curing insomnia is to set aside the bedroom for sex and sleeping only. By creating a dedicated, assigned space for specific activities, you convince your brain to engage in those activities whenever you enter that space. Take this method to heart as much as your space allows:
    • Remove TVs, desks, computers, and other such distractions from the bedroom. Store clothes and books there instead. Only spend time in the bedroom when you're changing clothes, grabbing a book, going to sleep, or getting it on. Don't read in bed.
    • Clean the clutter off of your dining room/breakfast nook table. If you don't have a dining room or a breakfast nook, but you do have a table, clean it up. Only use the table for eating and paperwork (bills, studying, writing, and so on). Make a commitment to washing your dishes after every meal.
    • Maintain your kitchen. It's rare that you'll ever make so many dishes in a single day that you can't get them all washed within 30 minutes in the evening. Clean up every day so you can continue to use the kitchen for cooking and not have to worry about the mess.
    • Put time-consuming activities in an office or the living room. Keep computers, TVs, video game consoles, and other such activity items in general areas. Train your brain to associate these areas with leisure activities and hobbies. You'll be able to get things done in the other, utilitarian areas of the house with much greater efficiency.
  3. Consider canceling your TV service. It's a drastic step for some people, but TV's scheduled programming can disrupt an otherwise-adequate daily schedule. Most people find that they don't miss TV service as much as they thought they would after a few days without it. Invest in a paid video streaming service instead, so that you can watch TV shows when it's convenient for you.
    • DVR sets that record shows for you to watch later are also a viable option if you can't stand the thought of waiting 8 months to see the new season of your favorite show, but be sure to resist the temptation to turn on the TV just because it's there. Once you start watching, you typically spend more time than you'd intended to, which cramps the rest of your day and makes you feel rushed.
    • Reduced Internet usage is also a good idea if you can manage it, but since most people also use the Internet for practical daily business, this can be much more difficult. Start with TV and see how that works out first.

Organizing Your Life to Run Smoothly

  1. Set a budget. One of the simplest and most effective steps you can take to reduce worry caused by your complex life is to budget your expenses. There's nothing mysterious or difficult about it:
    • Track your expenditures for a week or two. Don't worry about controlling it yet; just spend as you normally do. You can keep track on your phone or with a pad of paper.
    • Divide up your expenditures according to general type of purchase. For example, many typical budgets have categories for gas, food, entertainment, and impulse buys. Take each category and multiply it so you have a monthly spending estimate.
    • Add another category for bill payments, and yet another for savings (if you're saving money). That's your budget. Try your best to stick to it in order to avoid having to worry about how much money you can afford to spend in one place or another.
    • Your budget will also be useful in helping you make changes to save more money or purchase less in a given category. Just lower the amount in one category, and raise it in whichever other one you like. Stick to that budget to effect the change.
    • Budget flexibly. Different days call for different approaches. Maybe you eat take-out every Monday night, or have a standing date with friends on Saturday afternoon. Be cognizant of that fact and mentally double-check your basic plan every morning. Add time to take care of whatever you need to take care of that day, with a little flex room on either side.
  2. Organize your time. You can set a budget for your time just as you can set a budget for your money. Since you're trying to reduce worry rather than increase it, go into this process with a focus on maximizing your personal time, rather than cramming as much as you can into each day.
    • Set a sleep schedule. Stick to it, even on weekends. Give yourself a one-hour target window for bedtime in the evening, and set a strict time to get up in the morning. Be sure that the space between your bedtime and the start of your day gives you roughly an hour more than the amount of sleep you actually need, so you won't lay down and start worrying about whether or not you'll fall asleep on time.
    • Take care of tasks at the same time every day. Plan time for daily hygiene, commuting, work, shopping, eating, and chores. Add in time for anything else you do most days, such as homework, exercise, or an active hobby. Put them in a specific order that works for you. All the time left over is your free time, to use for relaxation or whatever else you want.
    • To maximize your free time, try to combine trips outside the home. For example, you might plan to go shopping on your way home from work, to save the extra trip.
    • For many people, an irregular work schedule makes this kind of budgeting difficult, but you can still plan to work around your schedule in the same order every day, and just shuffle the times.

Taking Charge of Your Mind

  1. Cultivate empty moments. It's easy to fill every waking moment of your free time with smartphone apps, social media browsing, TV, books, hobbies, and more, but it isn't always a good idea. Sometimes what you need isn't a distraction, it's a moment to yourself. There isn't a lot of free time in the day, for most people, but it isn't hard to find a couple of five-minute windows where you can drop everything and be alone with your thoughts.
    • Use your empty time to think about whatever you want, or just lay back and look at the patterns on your ceiling or the leaves on a tree near your window. Don't fill it with anything that requires your attention to be enjoyed, such as a book or a smartphone.
  2. Take time to clear your head. Even the most overworked adult can find half an hour once a week to set aside for quiet meditation and reflection. Meditation is a powerful technique for organizing your thoughts and feelings, and all it requires is a quiet spot without many distractions. Sit comfortably and focus on your breathing until the rest of your thoughts become quiet. That way, you can go over them without feeling overwhelmed by them.
    • This is also a great time to set weekly goals or remind yourself of tasks that need to be completed soon, such as shopping trips and yard work. Feel free to keep a pad of paper and a pen or pencil close at hand when you meditate, so you can list and organize everything that comes up. You can use your notes to help guide the week ahead, reducing chaos.
  3. Be rational. Often, people worry about things they have limited control over, such as whether or not they got a new job (after an interview) or what a new acquaintance really thought of them. These worries are hard to help completely, even though it's obvious that worrying won't change their outcomes. However, that doesn't mean you can't do your best to remind yourself not to worry. Make a conscious effort to focus your attention elsewhere, and let events take their course as best you can.
    • Try to respect yourself. If something doesn't work out the way you'd hoped, review the course of events in your head and try to focus on what you did right or how hard you tried, rather than “where you messed up.” Chances are, the results had little to do with your actions, and more to do with those of others. If you endlessly self-criticize, you'll only worry more the next time a similar situation comes up (and be more likely to make a nervous mistake). Believe that you did your best, and that you'll do your best next time as well. There's no good reason to fret over things that have already come and gone.

Giving Yourself Reasons to Enjoy Life

  1. Take a plunge. A lot of the time, your worries will revolve around whether or not you can successfully do something. Despite some things being largely up to the winds of chance (as mentioned above), you can compensate nicely by undertaking other endeavors on your own. Pick anything you've always wanted to do, want to do better, or want to start doing again, and give it a shot.
    • Remember, there's nothing to lose from trying something for your own enjoyment. Therefore, there's no good reason to worry about how well you'll do. Just compete against yourself and do your best not to worry what others might think.
    • Keep trying and working on things that interest you. You'll succeed more often than you might think, and begin to worry a lot less as you realize that 75% of success is just getting out there and trying. People who seem successful and happy are people just like you, except that they never let their worries stop them from giving things another shot.
    • The things you try don't have to be flashy, or significant to anyone except you. You could take up a new hobby, such as knitting or martial arts, or you could just make a commitment to smile more often at work. The goals you set are yours to attempt and achieve. Pursue anything you've ever wanted to pursue. You'll be delighted with the results more often than not.
  2. Live in the moment. Don't obsess about the future; instead, focus on living in the present. It's fine to plan ahead sensibly and set goals, but the important thing is living your life as it is now, and not worry about what is already past or what the distant future might hold.
    • Practice self-acceptance. As mentioned previously, excessive self-criticism is a major source of worry. A part of us listens to what we say about ourselves, whether we want it to or not. If you're always down on yourself, you won't be able to enjoy anything. Telling yourself you'll do better in the future is one thing; refusing to feel proud of yourself and happy with the steps you've taken to make your life enjoyable right now is a different beast.
    • Remember that people are essentially self-centered. When you make an embarrassing mistake or scene, it can cause all your worries to spring back to life with a vengeance, making you half-catatonic with fear and self-doubt. The fact is, everybody has such gaffes now and again, and most people aside from the person who slipped up either forget about it completely or disregard it soon thereafter. Nobody is obsessively watching your every move; in fact, most people won't even remember what you said to them a month ago unless you say it to them again. There's no reason to carry the shame and embarrassment with you after the fact.
  3. Count your blessings. Like most old adages and proverbs, this one gets repeated ad infinitum because it's actually very wise advice. Set aside your resistance to clichés for a moment and think about all the advantages you have. You're reading this article on the Internet, which means you either have or can borrow Internet access. It also means you can read, which is something not everybody can do. All but the most hopeless and pitiable lives have an abundance of good in them. Find yours, and remind yourself to be grateful for it every day.
    • Put your life in context. If you live in a building with a roof and walls, be grateful for that instead of worrying that it's too humble or too run-down. If you don't have a home, be grateful for the clothes on your back. If you live somewhere with harsh weather, be grateful that it sometimes passes and becomes pleasant. Be grateful that you can think for yourself, comprehend beauty, and dream of better things.
    • No matter your situation, if you're reading this article, you can find things to appreciate about your life. Think of them whenever you find yourself sitting and worrying instead of acting and enjoying life.
  4. Limit your responsibilities. There are some people who worry because they are trying to take care of everyone and everything around them, or because they read about problems elsewhere in the world and feel as though they are never doing enough to help. It's good to be supportive and charitable, but taking it too far will turn you into a used-up mess of nerves and frustration. Make a conscious effort to remind yourself that other people, like you, are more capable than they realize, and that you don't always need to be there for everyone at every turn.
    • People who have everything taken care of for them, such as coddled children, end up ill-equipped to function in the adult world, which means that sometimes not helping is actually the best help you can give.
    • It's also important to remind yourself that others care just as much as you do about social issues and charitable causes. It's okay to let them share the burden of responsibility; often it's the only way to make it bearable. This doesn't mean you should stop caring; rather, it means you should take pride in what you do and stop worrying that it isn't good enough. It is.
    • Set a limit for yourself. This could be a limit to the amount of time you spend helping others, a limit to the money you spend to support them, or just a limit to how much time you spend worrying about the world's problems. Design a limit based around the type of caring you engage in that causes your worry.
    • Remember that worrying never fixed anything, and there are some things you can't fix no matter how badly you might want to. Force yourself to set your worries aside past a certain point, and do whatever you have to do to enforce that limit.
  5. Trust yourself. At the end of the day, there are some things that nobody can really control: weather, death, natural disasters, and other such unstoppable forces are a part of life on Earth. Learn to place faith in your own ability to handle them. You can't change the way such things behave, so all you can really do is to prepare for them, and to trust in yourself to do what you can when faced with them.
    • For example, thousands of people get into car accidents every year, but people continue to use cars because they trust themselves to do everything they can to avoid such an eventuality: driving safely, wearing seatbelts, learning from past mistakes, and responding quickly to changes on the road ahead of them. Take the same attitude with every uncontrollable force in your life.
    • It's sensible to prepare for misfortune. Things like emergency food and water, first-aid kits, and fire extinguishers are wise investments in your continued safety. However, be sure when you prepare that your preparations are easing your worries rather than fueling them. Don't give in to urges to buy and prepare more and more. The goal is to find a reasonable balance, say "this is enough," and get on with your daily life.


  • Use your time wisely. Relax and give yourself time to do what you want and do things that will calm you down, make sure that these things aren't stressful.
  • If you're worried about your health, ask for advice from a medical expert. Avoid self-diagnosis; it will only send you into a tailspin and you are more likely than not to be wrong.
  • When we worry, we overthink things in the future or even the past.


  • If you feel completely trapped by worry, fear, and/or depression, and you find yourself ruefully scoffing at every item in this guide, seek professional counseling whenever you're able. Remember, as a patient you have the right to shop around and choose a therapist you're comfortable with. Find one, and let him or her provide you with professional help. It might sound pointless right now, but in fact it can make a world of difference. There may be assistance available for people who can't otherwise afford counseling.

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