I think I worry too much. I worry about all kinds of things, all the time.
I worry about school and making friends. I worry about how I look. I worry about meeting a nice girl. I worry about the future and what is in store for me.
I realise everyone gets anxious especially teenagers, but it’s just a part of who I am to be anxious.
Worrying so much and imagining the worst, makes me less likely to take risks. I’m afraid. I don’t want to be rejected or mess up. As a result, I am a reserved person, a sort of silent participant in social situations. Please help.
Dear Worry Murray
That is a lot of worrying.
Getting caught up in a cycle of negative thoughts and catastrophising is no fun, plus, it’s not good for your body or your mind. Worrying can impact your health and the way you live your life. It’s a negative cycle. The more you worry, the less fun you have, which makes you worry more.
But, the fact that you wrote to me tells me you’re ready to make a change.
Instead of living in the present and enjoying life as it plays out, you’re focusing on the past and the future. It’s like you’re walking along a path and instead of enjoying the feeling of the fresh air on your face, and looking at the trees around you, you’re either squinting ahead, trying to see what lies 5 miles ahead of you, or constantly looking behind you.
I’d like you to try these two simple techniques.
FOCUS ON THE HERE AND NOW. Instead of looking ahead or behind you, focus on what’s right in front of you, now. Go for a walk and force yourself to notice your surroundings. How do the leaves look today? How does the ground feel beneath your feet? Is their air damp or fresh or hot? What sounds can you hear? What can you smell?
LOOK FOR THE GOOD. Every evening, before you go to bed, take a moment to write down a list of nice, funny, joyful, or interesting take aways or recollections from that day. Think about simple pleasures; the amazing taste of the chocolate you just ate, the feel of the soft new sweatshirt you’re wearing, the great new show you just discovered. By doing this regularly, you’re training yourself to focus on positive things, rather than negative thoughts and worries.
I could give you lots more things to try, but I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. Instead, let’s start here.
Remember, it takes practice. You won’t wipe away all your worries in an instant. But if you keep going, day by day, they will fade.
If at any point you feel like your worries are becoming too much, please contact the Samaritans. There is free support available to you 24/7.