When Life Isn’t Working: Ways to Manage Your Worry

hands-trying-to-fit-two-puzzle-pieces-togetherWhether it is the economy, family concerns, or just getting through the daily grind, more individuals seem to be struggling with life’s demands and difficulties in recent years. Individuals prone to worry have an added stressor that amplifies these.

We all have ways to cope and manage when our lives aren’t working the way we’d like them to. Awareness is crucial to finding more peace and balance. How do you handle things? Do you push through? Do you try to do more? Do you delegate? Do you shut down? Or do you lash out at others?

Anxiety and worry arise when expectations don’t match reality. In our attempt to control so many factors in our lives, we become overwhelmed. If we focus only on how we react and respond, we can slow things down and identify what we have control over. This can help us to filter out any unnecessary and distracting information.

Here are a few tips to help you gain more awareness when your life isn’t really working:

  • Take a few minutes for yourself. Doing something that focuses your attention and rejuvenates you is important throughout your day. Listen to your favorite song and sing aloud. Complete a puzzle or play a game. Read a chapter in your book.
  • Distract yourself. When you are unable to stop thinking about something, distract yourself. Diverting your attention away from the topic can help you to reduce your stress. This can be a conscious thing where you are focused on changing your thoughts when you identify negative or distracting thoughts. Choosing to focus on something that you have more control over will help you feel less helpless.
  • Relax and slow things down. You can sit in a quiet room (or out in nature) and allow things in your mind to slow down. I know that this seems impossible; however, taking just 10 minutes can help you regain focus and help you problem-solve better.
  • Breathe. When your mind starts to whirl and you begin to get frustrated, just breathe. Start by clearing your mind and focus on your breath in and out of your body. Begin breathing in for a count of six and then exhale for a count of six. Do this four or five times. See if you notice a change in the tightness of your body. For an added bonus, close your eyes to reduce visual stimuli.
  • Move. This could be stretching while you talk on the phone or walk up or down the stairs. I have found that many people find the word “exercise” daunting. They resist adding it to their schedule because they have been told 30 minutes at least three times a day is needed for it to be beneficial. However, it doesn’t have to be high-impact to benefit your body. Just get moving more. Find subtle ways to include movement in your day to help alleviate stress buildup and muscle tension.

The suggestions above are not intended to “add” to your busy schedule. These tips are a way to break things down so that they can begin to fit into your existing schedule. For example, if you take your Nook, iPod, or Sudoku in your bag, you could utilize it when you are waiting for your kids’ soccer practice to end or when you are standing in line. Inserting these ideas into your day will bring more balance and reduce the feeling of being out of control.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Teresa Collett, PsyD, LMFT, Worry Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • claudette

    August 14th, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    For me it is all about keeping my eyes on the prize.
    The payoff for me?
    Visually being able to mark things off of a list one at a time as they are accomplished.
    This gives me a real feeling that I am getting things done for the day and lets me develop ways to manage my stress a little better when I able to see that one more thing has been completed!

  • Jerseygirl

    August 15th, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    I read all of this and while it sounds REALLY GOOD on paper, is it do-able for all of us?
    For example I have tried the breathing techniques but it never fully takes my mind off of what I am fretting over. Same thing with trying to distract myself. It may work for a little while but eventually I am back to worrying over the same thing that I was initially trying to escape. I honestly think that facing things head on instead of searching for that perfect escape is my best option. Once I have it resolved then there is nothing to worry about anymore. Until that time, nothing I try seems to work too well.

  • i give up

    August 16th, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    disability retirement with MEDICARE[medicrap] [pays absolutely nothing]

    income fixed at 21,500 per year [im too rich for section 8 ] avg rent 1300 a mo?
    for what? a crackerbox and a psycho landlady.

    i am tired of doing with out and just breathing day to day.
    i am not sleeping well, eating well and its HOPELESS—- A PLACE TO LIVE!
    its HOPELESS! no kitchen ,no bathroom etc etc 5 YEARS OF THIS shit!

    IM SICK OF crapping in a plastic bag, pissing in a bottle,waking up in my van with migraines
    and throwing up stomach acid.

    the doctor visits and my meds cost me a few hundred a month out of pocket.real hassle…

    the soup kitchen sucks … good food is outrageous.$$$

    i refuse to eat fast food because it gives me no energy and makes me feel worse.

    my teeth HURT! missing a few ,i have tmj,i need root canals etc etc .
    the dentist? also HOPELESS… thats for rich people

    i can barely afford to keep my crashed van going,i have not bought a full tank of gas
    in years!
    much less have any FUN by actually being able to go anywhere or do anything.

    no matter how much extra money i hustle on the side it just isnt eneough!

    its all overhead and more back breaking labor and mental anguish it seems.


    i cant even be self employed with assholes like e bay and amazon[kicked off and ripped off!]


    im sick of corporate assholes running my life … the ins company .B of A , THE STORAGE RENT
    etc etc .

    I WANT MORE OUT OF LIFE than a room 4 rent … no hot tub, no smokin pot, no rock n roll,
    no visitors, no this ,no that, no thanks I WANT MY OWN PLACE… PERIOD! roomates suck, living with family
    wont work either .theres just no way out .
    etc etc..



  • GoodTherapy.org Support

    August 17th, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    If you are experiencing a crisis or you are feeling like you are in a situation where you might cause self-harm, it’s very important that you get immediate help! We want to make sure that you have resources available to you. Below you’ll find some possible suggestions and contact information for those resources.

    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is equipped to take a wide range of calls, from immediate suicidal crisis to providing information about mental health. Call to speak with someone who cares; call if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself; call to find referrals to mental health services in your area; call to speak to a crisis worker about someone you’re concerned about.

    • Call your local law enforcement agency (911);

    • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;

    We wish you the best of luck in your circumstances!

  • Ken

    August 28th, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    You are awesome. Despite this nightmare you describe, you have seemed to keep pushing. You’re an amazing person and although I am sorry for your circumstances I applaud your strength and honesty. I relate to you wholeheartedly. I would like to think things get better, but that isn’t always the case.

  • Colleen

    November 30th, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    I hear you. I ache for your suffering and know you are speaking for so many others. I understand wanting to give up. I am not sure i understand why more of us dont, but I think it is to see what may come of it. I want to share things that help me, but I do not know you well enough. Finding someone who hears your pain might be something.

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