How to Stop Thinking About Things That Bother You

Things can bother you, sometimes so intensely that thoughts about them become all consuming. It is said that you must not "sweat the small things", yet sometimes these small things have sharp teeth and cling fiercely, causing ongoing negative feelings and thoughts. Letting go of these negative thoughts about things that bother you will free up your energies for more enjoyable and constructive tasks in life.


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    Distract yourself. Find something else to do that has nothing to do with that which is bothering you. It can help to take your mind off the problem for a time, at least enough time to give you better perspective.
    • Organize your room, office, house, etc.
    • Do cleaning. Play loud music and dance as you clean.
    • Call a friend whom you haven't spoken with for ages.
    • Visit someone who needs help, perhaps in hospital, at home or somewhere else. Think of their problems, not yours.
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    Get social. Sometimes doing social things can help, this way other people can distract you from your worries. For instance joining a club not only diverts/distracts you, but helps you make more friends. (You could join a choir, or a cookery class). Try and invite your family and friends over to a party at your home. Even calling someone on a phone, or having a polite conversation with your neighbour.
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    Calm yourself at night. Perhaps you worry most late at night. Try a new routine to deal with this, such as setting an earlier bedtime, doing meditation or relaxation exercises before sleep and writing a to-do list for tomorrow to remove today's worries from your mind.
    • Yoga, reading or watching TV can be helpful activities to quell the worrying.
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    Create a “worry period.” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (for example, in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever is on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
    • Use this exercise to postpone your worry. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone it to your worry period. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now.
    • Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. Reflect on the worries you wrote down during the day. If the thoughts are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. If the worries don’t seem important any more, cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.
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    Deal with what is bothering you. There is only so much running from it through distractions that can be of help. Face the problem and do something about it. If it's a big problem, get help with it or break it down into chunks that you can cope with.
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    Let go. Realize that hanging on to the small things is self-destructive. It's similar to carrying around a heavy burden, it never leaves you and it infects every part of your day. Worry consumes energy and steals joy; do your best to allow yourself to let go through getting therapy help, learning more about dealing with the specific problems causing the bothersome thinking, reaching out to others and finding ways to be more fulfilled in life. None of this simple, it's not meant to be. However, you do have the ability to try and to make a choice to find the silver linings in life.


  • If the problem starts getting really bad, it is best to go to a doctor even though the problem may sound bizarre. The problem could develop further and may even lead to a mental illness.
  • At night always prepare yourself for an anxiety. Leave out a fresh glass of water, an interesting book or a jumper.
  • Find a box and make a letter like letterbox hole through it (you could even decorate it). Write all your worries onto a piece of paper and post them through the letterbox. Either say goodbye to them or review them at a more suitable time when you feel stronger.


  • If it starts to get bad, talk to a doctor or therapist; such persons can be a lifeline. Anxiety disorders usually need treatment and won't just "go away".

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Categories: Philosophy | Emotional Conditions