Most of my clients who suffer from stress and anxiety understand that reducing the amount of time they spend worrying would help them immensely.

As they remind me often, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things. They will say something like, “Yes Gwen, I know I worry too much, but how do I change that?” 

I love it when they ask me that because it is a challenging question to answer, but it also means that they have tried. That is the first step — being willing to try.

The next step is to begin to learn to tame or control the mind so that you can stop thinking. 

Even if we are plagued with worry thoughts, if we can stop thinking, at least we get a little rest from those thoughts. Worry thoughts are like paths through the field or the woods: the more they are travelled, the more likely they are to be travelled in the future.  

If you have things that you absolutely must worry about, then set aside 30 minutes per day just for worrying. A lot of energy can be expended worrying about ‘what-ifs’ that never materialize.  

Another helpful strategy is to have a plan for what you would do if the worst case scenario materialized.

If you have a plan in place for what you will do if you get laid off, your relationship ends, your child gets in trouble or the bills overwhelm, then you have eliminated the most common part of worry: What will I do if …?

You can still hope the bad thing does not happen, but at least you can sleep at night once you know that you will still survive, you will implement your plan, and life will go on.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychotherapist.