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7 ways to worry less

It’s 3am and I can’t go back to sleep to save my life. My body is willing but my mind seems thrilled to dance with every random thought available. Where is the off button for my brain? If I don’t go back to sleep right now I’ll be way tired tomorrow. I am waltzing up and down my mental to do list. I should really start writing stuff down. Like the deadline to submit the final paperwork for my dual citizenship. Where did I even put the special certificate from the German government? Don’t lose it, the lady told me, it’s the only one you get. I get up and check the mail drawer. Not here. File cabinet. Nope. Safe? No luck. I pace the kitchen, flip through piles of paper; lift random objects, apparently expecting my special document to emerge from under a placemat. Why can’t I be more organized? What else could happen with this kind of negligence?

At 4:30 am I return to bed. My daughter coughs strangely like most nights. She is not sick, has no allergies. What could be wrong? Probably nothing serious but one never knows.

At 5 am I hear my son get up. I wonder if he has homework. He tends to ‘forget’. How could I encourage greater responsibility? Why do we have to keep going over the same stuff? Next comes a text from our sitter who can’t come today. I need to leave for work in 90 minutes. My list of last minute babysitter has 2 names on it. And neither one is able to help today. My wheels are spinning, trying to figure out what to do next.

Normal life is filled with opportunities to problem solve. Or worry. Worrying means allowing our minds to dwell on difficulties. Sometimes we attach ourselves to every burden within our sphere. Sometimes we obsess about other people’s perceptions of us.

Worry can be sneaky. Worry is not confined to a list of common obsessions. Worry hides in a million details that would love to make your mind their permanent home. Worry hides in places we refuse to let go. Worry is the conversation you keep having with yourself instead of the person who needs to hear you. Worry is the way we circle around our problems instead of taking an unpleasant next step of action. Worry melts our courage. Worry fills in the blanks with every worst imaginable option.

Worry consumes energy of which I have none to spare.

I am ready to fight back. Worry is an unhealthy mental pattern that can be broken.

Here are seven ways to worry less:

  1. Kick negative thoughts to the curb. You do not have to listen to unhealthy thoughts. An old proverb says: “You can’t help it if birds come and land on your head. But you don’t have to let them build nests in your hair!” This can be a silent discipline or a demonstrative action. Sometimes I write problems I can’t solve on a piece of paper and put them in a special box near my desk. Seeing the box reminds me I have released this burden. 
  2. Know your triggers. My worry threshold is lower in the face of fatigue, failure or fear. Learn your vulnerabilities and be kind to yourself. Don’t judge your worry meter. If a loved one is hurting, you will feel a stronger pull to worry. If you’re a sensitive person, appreciate the upside of that. Be patient and kind to yourself.
  3. Practice good self care. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Check in with your body. Make room for rest and relaxation. Eat well. Exercise. Ask for help. Pray. Embrace the present moment and be grateful. Worry is terrified of gratitude.
  4. Express your emotions. I dislike the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.” Not true. Big hurt happens and you must acknowledge it as such and learn to grieve your losses. Choosing to feel is a courageous step towards worrying less.
  5. Get organized. Create a list or set goals for things you tend to push off. Organization helps to de-clutter your mind so you don’t obsess over a million little details.
  6. Talk to yourself. Remind yourself of what is true and lovely, of who you really are, of who God is and what he has done.
  7. Redefine your role. You may hail from a long family line of first class worriers. There is no obligation to carry on this legacy. Choose who you want to be. A warrior? A worshiper? You get to pick.

What are your favorite ways to worry less?



14 Replies

  1. These are AWESOME tips! I think writing problems down on a piece of paper and placing them in a box would really work for me. I’m a visual person, and seeing that box would be a constant reassurance. Thanks, Astrid!

    1. Astrid Melton

      The box totally helps me. It’s a great visual reminder of problems release into God’s hands. I go through it every few months and end up tossing most of what I put in.

  2. Wow, Astrid, days like that are tough! I struggle too with “worry is the conversation you keep having with yourself instead of the person who needs to hear you.” I love your list! Thanks for sharing on #livefree.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks friend.

  3. I love that you said: There’s no reason to carry on this legacy [of worry]. Powerful truth, Astrid!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Just gotta live it out now :).

  4. This is so powerful, Astrid! I love your list, and your words. Thank you!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks, friend.

  5. Tara

    Nice! 🙂 Love it.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thx for being my awesome edit and idea friend/cousin. xoxo

  6. Judy

    Worry was always something that I dealt with until I learned to turn it over to God and let go.

    1. Astrid Melton

      yeah- I am trying to learn how to do that.

  7. Rachel

    Great post! My favorite way to worry less is to talk and laugh with a friend, problems always seem smaller when I tell the story to someone who wants to laugh with me over my crazy.
    So…what happened? What did you do next? Did you take the day off? Did you get a sitter? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes- talking with a good friend totally helps. At least that’s a great day time strategy :). My husband usually ends up taking a day off when we have a sitter crisis- that worked better when he worked from home though. I am working on a better back-up list.

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