3 ways to beat worry

Posted on November 13th, by Dr Rob Yeung .

Console yourselfSometimes things can seem really bleak and hopeless. Maybe you’ve suffered a big disappointment at work or you feel rejected by a friend or loved one. Or perhaps it is world events that make you feel that things are gloomy.

If you’re feeling down and want to feel more confident about life again, here are 3 actions that psychologists often suggest to clients:

1. Buoy your spirits
Don’t allow yourself to dwell or ruminate for too long on what has already happened. To begin with, you want to restore your emotional equilibrium by helping yourself to feel better.

So what activities do you enjoy doing? Even if you don’t feel like doing them, force yourself to. If you love singing and dancing around the house, do it. If you have a favourite DVD, indulge yourself and watch it. Go for a run. Talk to the dog. Bake a cake. Watch funny videos on YouTube. Do what works for you to boost your positive emotions and dampen down negative feelings.

I’m not suggesting that you only do positive activities in an attempt to hide and pretend that things have not changed. But it’s often a good idea to invest at least a little time lifting your mood – even if it may be the last thing you want to do.

2. Seek out like-minded people
There’s no need to struggle alone with most problems. Most people report feeling better simply by being able to get together with supportive friends to talk.

Who would be the right people to support you in this situation? For example, you may have a friend or couple of friends who are particularly good at talking through relationship issues. However, you may have different friends who are better confidants when it comes to work. If world events or politics are getting you down, there may be still other people who might be better companions for you.

3. Take action
Research shows that asking why a situation has happened may not be the most productive thing to do. Often, there is not one reason. And in any case, it’s impossible to change the past. What’s done is done.

Instead, psychologists have found that people who focus on how to improve a situation tend to achieve better outcomes. Even if the actions you can realistically take feel quite small, you will probably find that doing something will help you to feel more in control and less worrisome.

So if you want to help yourself or the people around you, avoid spending too much time wondering why a situation occurred. Look at how you can improve it instead.

It may seem like an almost trivial distinction, but it has been shown to produce significantly better outcomes. So focus not on “Why?” but “How?”

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