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Do the things you worry about keep you up at night? Do you often feel nervous and uncomfortable? If so, this burden of stress is most likely making your life miserable. Do you want to break free from stress, stop worrying and start being happy? You can end this cycle now by identifying and dealing with the underlying causes of stress.

Future Fears  

Fear about future events is one of the most common causes of worrisome stress. These fears can range from trivial concerns—such as what to wear to work the next day—to global fears about how the world will survive.

“When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
~Winston Churchill

Anytime you worry about something that may or may not happen at some point in time, you‘re giving in to future fears. You might hear yourself saying things like:

“What if I lose my job?”
“What if she never talks to me again?”
“My son is sick, what happens next?”
“The world is so scary, what about war?”

Worries such as these can lead to restless or even sleepless nights. Sleepless nights lead to more stress, which in turn causes more worry—in other words, it’s a vicious cycle.

Past Regrets  

Another major cause of stress is dwelling on past regrets. By not letting go of things that may have gone wrong—or even just not as well as you might have hoped—stress increases and new fears are fed.

“If I had only done a better job on that essay”
“I never should have said that”
“I should have spent more time with my family”
“I should’ve never put that much money on my credit card”

These are the thoughts of someone who can’t stop stressing about things that have already happened. Regret about the past can reflect any thoughts about events that you believe should or should not have happened.

How Can You tell if You've Fallen into a Worry Cycle?  

Whether you‘re concerned with the past, the future, or both, these kinds of thoughts are the source of the worry cycle and the underlying source of your stress. Trapped in the cycle, you may become anxious, sad, confused, or depressed. You might even begin to stress about worrying so much.

Needless to say, it is normal for us to think about future events, have some regret about past experiences and even stress about them to some degree. You can tell you’ve fallen into a worry cycle by the number of times your mind goes back to the same subject and by your feelings in relation to that subject.  

If something happens that causes concern and you find yourself feeling uncomfortable and thinking about that same subject more than three times, it’s the beginning of a worry cycle. Once you‘re in the cycle, your stress tolerance is lowered and your happiness is severely compromised.

Letting Go of Stress: Break Free from the Worry Cycle

Escaping the cycle of worry is the only way to create a new cycle of happiness. Luckily, there are concrete strategies that you can develop to help you release your stress and focus on the things that make you happy. Like any habit, worrying is a pattern that can be broken. Because the pattern is familiar to you, it will take practice to break free from the cycle.

The following steps can help you to set a new pattern that will significantly reduce your stress and help you to stop worrying so much:

Step one: Pay attention to how you feel. We all have emotions and we have them for a reason. The discomfort that comes along with worry is a warning bell that something deeply important to us is missing in any given situation. Learn to recognize the first signs of worry before they have a chance to initiate a cycle and turn into a stressor.

Step two: Identify what you really want. As we said in step one, uncomfortable feelings are warning bells that something deeply important is missing. In order to start breaking out of the worry cycle it is essential to start identifying what you want in a situation.

Step three: Take action. There is always some kind of action you can take. When you‘re in action, you have less time to worry or be hopeless about things never changing.

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