Worrying is a natural part of the human experience, but when it becomes constant, it can interfere with our daily lives. Our clients frequently ask us how to stop worrying because it produces such painful anxiety. At Gladstone Psychiatry and Wellness, we understand that managing worry is not about eliminating it entirely but learning to control it. 

Here are five tools that can help you stop worrying and start living more peacefully.


How to Stop Worrying: 5 Tools to Stop Worry Thoughts



1. Solve the Problem If You Can

The first step in managing worry is to identify if there’s a practical solution to the problem at hand. If there is, take actionable steps to address it. This proactive approach empowers you to tackle challenges head-on, reducing the space for worry to grow.

This is particularly useful when you are worrying about a task that needs to be completed. How many times have you felt paralyzed with anxiety, worrying that you won’t finish a project on time or complete all of the items on your to-do list? In those moments, taking action toward solving the problem can reduce your anxiety fast.


2. “Cope Ahead” for Problems You Can’t Solve

Some problems can’t be solved immediately or are out of our control. For these, we recommend the ‘Cope Ahead’ strategy from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Here’s how it works. Visualize the situation that you are worried about. Imagine all of the things that could possibly go wrong. What is the catastrophe that you are worried might happen? Next, plan out how you will deal with it emotionally if the worst happens. 

Let’s say you have an email from your boss saying that you’ve received a customer complaint and she wants to meet with you tomorrow at 2:00 PM to discuss it. You have 24 hours to ruminate about all the things that could go wrong in that meeting. That would make anyone anxious! Instead of ruminating, write down your feared outcomes. Are you worried that you’ll be fired? That your boss will yell at you? Or that you’ll have to sit there and listen to her talk about your faults for an hour? Ask yourself, “what can I do to regulate my emotions if that happens?” Maybe you’ll take some deep, cleansing breaths. Or call a friend right after the meeting to get some emotional support. 

Now imagine that scenario playing out in your brain and practice using your coping strategies. Research shows that practicing the situation in your imagination works just as well as practicing it in real life. This preparation can reduce anxiety and increase confidence in handling future stressors.


3. Try “Designated Worry Time”

Constant worrying can be draining. Instead, allocate a specific time in your day dedicated solely to your worries. This will be called your “designated worry time” or DWT. During this period, allow yourself to fully focus on what’s bothering you. Once the time is up, gently guide your mind away from worries and back to the present moment. 

Here’s how it works. Throughout the day, when a worry thought pops into your mind, write it down on a piece of paper or in your phone’s notes app, and then set it aside. Decide that you won’t think about it until your DWT. Then, when your DWT rolls around, take out your list and do something productive about as many items on it as possible. 

This technique helps contain worries to a manageable part of your day.




4. Use Cold Water to TIP Your Body Chemistry and Stop Worrying

When worry escalates into acute anxiety, it’s helpful to use physiological techniques to calm down. The ‘TIP’ method also comes from DBT therapy. It involves changing your body temperature, engaging in intense exercise, practicing paced breathing, or engaging in paired muscle relaxation. 

To calm worry thoughts fast, we recommend using cold water to change your body temperature. Here’s how it works. Fill a bowl or sink basin with cold water. Hold your breath and submerge your face all the way. Try to stay underwater for at least 30 seconds, or for as long as you can hold your breath. 

The combination of cold water and holding your breath will activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This has the effect of reducing your heart rate quickly and slowing down your emotions and thoughts. It is truly powerful.

One warning, though: if you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor before trying TIP. 


5. Check the Facts to Stop Worrying

Our minds often create worry based on assumptions rather than facts. Take a moment to critically assess your thoughts. Ask yourself if there’s concrete evidence to support your worries or if they’re based on hypotheticals. 

Write down all of your assumptions about the situation you are worrying about. Check the facts on each one. Are there alternative ways you could view the situation? For example, let’s say your friend hasn’t texted you back an hour after you asked her if she wants to hang out tonight. You are worried that this means she is angry with you. Some alternative interpretations are that she is busy working, her phone is turned off, or she’s driving and has her notifications turned off. 

This fact-checking process can help you challenge and diminish unfounded fears.

At Gladstone Psychiatry and Wellness, we believe in a holistic approach to mental health. These tools are just the beginning. We’re here to support you with a range of evidence-based treatments and behavioral techniques tailored to your unique journey toward wellness. Remember, it’s okay to seek help. Together, we can work towards a life where worry doesn’t hold you back.


Psychiatry and Counseling in Maryland

If you are looking for a psychiatrist or a therapist in Maryland, Gladstone can help. Visit our website to request an appointment. Or call us at 443-708-5856. You can also email us at new.patient@gladstonepsych.com. Take good care.