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Alex Read, Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager, AXA Health

How to stop worrying


19 June 2023

Worrying is a natural part of life, be it about work, finances, our health, family or something else. We all experience it to some extent at different times in our lives, but sometimes we can worry about things more than we’d like to, and this can get in the way of us enjoying everyday activities.

“Worrying can be helpful if it drives you to take action and solve the issue. But it can also have a negative effect on our psychological wellbeing, if the thoughts become so intense or intrusive that they start to interfere with daily life,” says Alex Read, Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager at AXA Health.

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Challenging worrisome thoughts

With practice it’s possible to retrain our thinking and teach ourselves to reduce or get rid of these worries by staying calm, balanced and less fearful.

Alex says: “Keeping a worry diary is a great way to rationalise and challenge the thoughts that trouble you most, often helping us identify a solution while we’re at it.”

Some people will prefer to write down every single intrusive thought, whereas others will choose to include those thoughts that cause the most concern. It can be an extremely useful tool for everyone, particularly anyone experiencing troublesome anxiety.

Getting started

For many people, the most effective way to keep a worry diary is by buying a real diary or a simple notebook with enough space to handwrite your thoughts. There’s a huge benefit and power in physically writing down your thoughts as opposed to using an electronic device. The physical transfer of the thoughts from your brain to paper helps to externalise these and can even be used at night time when electronic devices may disturb your sleep, causing more worry!

We’ve put together a few steps to help guide you to successfully creating and using your worry diary.

  • Step 1: Write down what you are worried about and why.
  • Step 2: Challenge these thoughts, get some perspective. In a different colour pen, write down some ways you could deal with your worries. If there’s something you can’t personally change, try not to dwell on it – it’s beyond your control.
  • Step 3: Counter the initial worry with a positive thought or a logical explanation.
  • Step 4: Repeat daily, or during stressful times when you may be feeling a little more anxious than usual. Before you know it, you’ll naturally start adapting to this new and more positive way of thinking

Alex says: “Some people find that after using a worry diary for a period of time they start to subconsciously manage and relieve any worries in the same way that writing them in a worry diary does, or they find other ways of coping. The key is to use the worry diary for however long you need and as often as suits you.”

If you still find that you are unable to manage your worries or anxieties and these are persistent, more severe and interfering with your day to day life, consider seeking professional help from your GP.

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