Do yourself (and your health) a favor and stop obsessing over things you can’t control. I know it’s far easier said than done. Don’t fret though; I’ll give you some tips to make it just a little bit easier. First, though, let’s talk about the difference between health worry and obsessing.
Difference Between Healthy Worry and Obsession
While experts agree that some worrying can actually be beneficial to your health, there’s a fine line between mild helpful worry and obsession. Let’s take current events for example. If we weren’t at least a little worried about our health (and that of others), we’d ignore what experts and scientists tell us. That, in turn, would put more lives in jeopardy. So yes, a little worrying does help save lives, our own included.
However, many of us have blown way past “a little worrying” and into “full-blown obsession” territory. There’s a big difference between watching the nightly news and keeping your TV tuned to a news channel every waking moment. Between taking your temperature when you feel like you have a cold or stuffy nose and taking it every hour on the hour. Between staying AT home and staying IN your home 24/7. You get the point, right?
Obsessing over thing you can’t control is bad for your health
Again, some worrying is normal, healthy, and even beneficial. Obsessively worrying, on the other hand, has no benefits. In fact, it not only affects your mental health, but it can cause significant harm to your physical well-being as well. For example, it can lead to headaches, muscle pain, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and even heart problems.
So, how do you stop obsessing over things you can’t control, especially when one of those things is the way you feel? Let’s discuss.
How to Stop Obsessing Over Things You Can’t Control
I have been SO anxious lately, and last week was the worst. This week, though, I decided to just go out for a long walk to help get over this feeling of being stuck at home. One thought led to another, and I realized that we really do need to find a way to stop obsessing over things we can’t control.
See, life is positively overflowing with things out of our control. In fact, our own actions and reactions are pretty much the only thing we do have complete power over. Note that I said reaction, not emotions. We can’t always control how we feel, but we can decide how we allow those feelings -including worry- to make us act.
So, how do we do that? Here are some tips that have helped me, as well as a few from experts.
Figure out what you can control
Remember, you have total say over your own actions and reactions, but zero say over that of others. Let’s try an example that I think we can all relate to- slow drivers! Remind yourself that while you can’t make the car in front of you go faster, you can make yourself react with patience and understanding instead of giving in to road rage.
Schedule your worrying
One of my favorite tips from psychologists is to schedule in time to worry. Choose a set amount of time- maybe half an hour- then actually write it down on your planner. When that time comes, you get only the scheduled block of time to worry about things you can’t control. Then, you have to let it go. Just try not to schedule it right before bedtime. Speaking of…
Don’t obsess during bedtime
Make worrying totally off-limits during bedtime. If you find your mind drifting to worries, forcefully pull it back and focus on happy things instead. Take a mental trip down memory lane, for example. Just choose a good memory, then replay it in your mind. Or maybe imagine your dream home and how you’d decorate.
Get the “worst case scenario” over with in your mind
This one comes from a friend who got it from her therapist. Go ahead and use your “worry time” to imagine the absolute worst-case scenario. Play it out in your mind. React to it, cry over it, decide how you’d handle it. Then, let it go. Later, when that worry pops up again, remind yourself that you’ve already planned for the absolute worst thing that can happen, so you can definitely handle anything less than that.
Focus on the positive
I know it sounds a bit Mary Sunshine, but outside your worrying time, stick to focusing on the positive. Rather than thinking about how helpless you feel, do things to help others. Instead of starting your morning with the bad news, read uplifting and happy news first. Take a walk and enjoy the sunshine. Remind yourself that right now you’re healthy, happy, and whole. No one knows what tomorrow brings, so all we can do is focus on what’s good today.
Remember, you the only thing you can control is yourself. Decide that you’ll stop obsessing over things you can’t control and stick to that decision. Your mind and body will thank you.