Signs You Worry Too Much [+ How to Stop?]

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Job instability, meeting other’s expectations, not achieving goals—there are no limits to the things that can make us worry. But if you’re overplaying the same scenario over and over—it might be a sign you worry too much.

#1. Your Worry Has Become Frequent

You’re overwhelmed by the number of worries in your head. And so you distract yourself with constant scrolling or numbing your mind off the worry. It’s easier to lose track of what’s going on when this happens.

Counting the number of hours your spend on your worries is one way to figure out whether its a sign you worry too ‘too much’ for the day and how you can allow yourself to worry without letting the day pass by. The number and type of scenarios you play in your head is also useful to start finding patterns in the intensity of your worry.

For this, I usually keep a ‘thought log’ where my worries are categorized based on themes such as ‘social,’ ‘finances,’ and so on.

Negative thoughts chart

All you have to do is note down as many worries that occur throughout the day on this thought record. Make sure to have atleast three themes set up before recording your worries. You can even go one step further and rate the level of distress (on a scale of 1 to 10) each category may be causing you.

Paying attention to how you’re coping with stress is yet another way to notice that you’re worrying more frequently. Are you relying on helpful methods like mindfulness or talking to friends, or are you turning to less helpful ones like avoiding situations that may trigger worry?

#2. You Obsess Over Same Scenario In Your Head

  • You think about the same concerns, scenarios and problem but unable to find a solution.
  • You’re searching for explanations that don’t exist.
  • You’re highly focused on past mistakes, failures, or shortcomings.

This is exactly when I’d want to put down all my negative thoughts on a paper, journal them, and get back to those later with a clear state of mind. But the first step is identifying that your thought-cycle is looking for answers that don’t exist. It’s the same as asking oneself “Does God exist?” and continue to debate over it all along but no one can have a definite answer. In such thinking cycle, this is a clear sign you worry too much.

Some questions to help you identify that it’s time to let go of your search for explanations:

  1. How long have I been thinking about this problem? Has it led me to an answer or am I running in negative thought cycle?
  2. Are there any steps that I could take to resolve this situation?
  3. Can I consider setting a 15-minute worry-time during the day and prevent worrying all day?
  4. What guidelines can I establish when engaging in worry?
  5. Am I able to categorize things that I can manage and can’t manage?

If you’re running through same scenarios in head, and having a lot of ‘What-if’ questions to answer to, then I’d recommend performing a what-if thought analysis (free download). On the left hand side, you must write down ‘what-if’ thoughts that can have a bad outcome.

Related:

#3. You Feel Like Your Worry is Out of Control

This is one a common and sure-fire sign you worry too much. When the line between things that are happening to you vs things that you can do to manage difficult situations starts to blur—you start to worry. The skills or resources you have may not match up with the situation your facing and so, in attempts to want to ‘do something’ about it—you worry to a point where its starts to consume you.

“I have to have a good job. What if I embarrass myself having no job despite working hard on my degree?”

“What if my relationship with my partner is going off and they’re losing interest in me?”

“I’m struggling to make ends meet this month. What if I can’t pay my bills?”

“What if there is no purpose or meaning to anything?”

“I can’t stop thinking about how embarrassing it was with what I said yesterday. Others may think I’m stupid.”

When I look back into the early 20s of my life—where I had just started to set my foot out into the world, I finished my Masters and had just begun looking for work (it was hard, lol)—I spent all of it worrying. And no matter how good the situation turned out to be, there was always something to worry ahead in the future.

HelpGuide suggests that one of the best ways to deal with worry, is to identify what you can and cannot control. If the things that you’re worrying about is what you can control, then start brainstorming solutions. List them down in your notepad and focus on options to create an action plan. But if you’re worrying about things you cannot control, then drop your brainstorming and prepare to cope with uncertainty. I’ve made a list of things you can vs can’t control to help you identify, categorize, and plan your worrying accordingly. For instance, how your romantic partner may respond or behave towards you is something you cannot control. But you can still communicate your expectations and standards to them and abide by.

You may even ask yourself questions to identify the aspects of your worry that you can actually control:

  1. What practical steps can I take to address the source of my worry?
  2. Am I only focusing on hypothetical scenarios in my head? If so, can they actually lead to an answer or a solution?
  3. What aspects of my worry am I attempting to control here?
  4. What resources can I make use of (coping tools, support from others, and so on) to deal with this worry?
  5. Should I try categorizing my negative thoughts down and focus only on aspects that I can control? What’s stopping me?

Helpful Ways to Deal with Worry

  1. You can also consider having a negative thoughts chart to note your worries and come back later.
  2. If you struggle with tracking negative thoughts, keep a pre-made checklist of negative thoughts handy.
  3. You might feel that your worry is out of control. Analyse specific aspects of worry you can actually control using a worry circle. Keep a pre-made list of things you can vs cannot control. It will help you mark areas where you could actually take action. Put them out in an action plan.
  4. Consider questions to challenge your negative thoughts.
  5. Fact-Check your worries and negative thoughts.

Hope you found this useful. If yes, please let me know your thoughts in the comments or drop me an email and I’ll respond to you 🙂

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