Mastering the Art of Letting Go: A Psychologist's Guide to Overcoming Excessive Worry

Written by Sarah Davies

Registered Psychologist

Worrying is a natural part of the human experience, but when it becomes excessive, it can drain our energy and affect our ability to focus on what truly matters. As a psychologist, I often work with individuals struggling with overwhelming worry, and I understand the toll it can take on one's mental and emotional wellbeing.

Here are some tips to help you break the cycle of excessive worrying and redirect your energy towards more meaningful aspects of life. Areas where your energy is much better spent in my opinion!

1. Identify your Triggers

The first step in overcoming excessive worry is to identify the specific triggers that set off your anxiety. Take note of situations, thoughts, or patterns that consistently lead to worry. By understanding your triggers, you gain insight into the root causes of your anxiety, making it easier to address them.

2. Work with your worries

Create a Worry Journal

Keep a worry journal to document your anxious thoughts. Writing them down not only helps you externalise your worries but also provides an opportunity to reflect on them later. As you review your entries, you may notice patterns, allowing you to try and find solutions to these specific worries. You can try scheduling 30 minutes of dedicated worry time where you write your worries down. Once your scheduled worry time is up, go and engage in a meaningful activity for you.

Distinguish between what you can and cannot control

One of the most effective strategies for managing worry is learning to differentiate between factors within your control and those outside of it. Write a list of everything that IS and ISN’T in your control. Focus your energy on things you can influence and accept that there will always be aspects of life beyond your control. This shift in perspective can bring a sense of empowerment and reduce the burden of worry.

Challenge catastrophic thinking

Excessive worriers often engage in catastrophic thinking, imagining the worst-case scenarios in various situations. Challenge these negative thoughts by asking yourself if they are based on facts or assumptions. Consider more realistic and balanced perspectives, and remind yourself that catastrophising rarely reflects the actual outcome of events.

3. Focus your energy on what you can control

Practice mindfulness and grounding techniques

Mindfulness and grounding exercises can help anchor you in the present moment, preventing your mind from wandering into anxious thoughts about the future. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and body scans can promote relaxation and promote a greater awareness of your thoughts without judgment. Check out the free Health Partners Guided Meditation Series – each episode is beginner-friendly and under 10 minutes.

Establish healthy boundaries

Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining mental and emotional well-being. Learn to say "no" when necessary and prioritise self-care. Overcommitting and taking on too much can contribute to heightened stress and worry. By establishing clear boundaries, you create space for activities and relationships that truly matter to you.

Engage in meaningful activities

Redirect your energy towards activities that bring you joy, fulfilment, and a sense of accomplishment. Whether it's pursuing a hobby, spending time with loved ones, reading 10 pages of a book, listening to a favourite podcast episode, spending time out in the sun and nature, or contributing to a cause you're passionate about - engaging in meaningful activities can shift your focus away from worries and towards positive experiences. With practice, you will find that you are spending more time out of your worried thoughts, and more time activating your senses in the present moment.

Breaking free from the grip of excessive worrying is a journey that requires self-awareness, practice, and patience. By implementing these tips, you can adopt a healthier mindset, regain control over your thoughts, and redirect your energy towards aspects of life that hold true value and importance. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate worry entirely (this would not be humanly possible given how our brains are wired!) but to develop a balanced and constructive relationship with it, allowing you to lead a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

If you’re finding it hard to get on top of excessive worry, seek support. Your GP can be a good place to start who can assist with a referral to a psychologist.

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Posted: Feb 14 2024


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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