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Stop That Thought, Part I: Taming Unproductive Worries

We all worry from time to time, but worrying is often totally unproductive. We have to sweat a lot of details and dilemmas in life, but getting stressed about things when you can't actually do anything about them isn't very helpful.

For instance, worrying about your upcoming dentist appointment won't make your filling hurt any less. Similarly, when you're at work, thinking about all the things you need to do when you get home will just stress you out. If you need a little help taming your worries, why not try a technique called "thought stopping"? The method can help you dismiss unproductive worries all together and save the important ones for another time.

For a few tips on pushing unproductive thoughts out of your mind,


Some worries have a purpose — say, planning a dinner party or remembering to pay your bills. But other worries, like anxiety over a dentist visit, aren't doing you any favors. So why not push them out of your mind entirely? Try these tips and see what works for you.

  • Count to 10. When an unproductive worry enters your head, count to 10 and tell yourself you'll stop thinking about it when you're done counting. In your mind, shout "stop!" when you hit 10.
  • Go somewhere else. In your mind, that is. Pick a place that makes you happy — maybe curled up in bed or somewhere on your last vacation — and imagine yourself there every time a nasty thought plagues you.
  • Replace the unhealthy with something healthy. Instead of dwelling on something that's only going to stress you out, replace your worry with a healthy thought. Remind yourself about something you're happy about or thankful for.

What about the things you really need to worry about? Stay tuned for my tips on saving the important worries for another time. Meanwhile, share your tips below.


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