Worrying is normal. But you don't have to let it rule you.

Share story

While a certain amount of worrying is normal — indeed, at times you would have to be crazy not to worry — excessive worry takes a toll on all aspects of our lives.

Including our job performance.

Worrying can ruin our concentration, damage relationships with colleagues, cause missed deadlines or spawn major errors. Whether it’s family issues, health concerns or current events, energy spent on worrying is energy taken away from things we want and need to do, like our jobs.

We don’t have to let our worries get the better of us though. We can manage them, even if we can’t eliminate them completely.

One of the best ways to deal with any issue is to let it out into the light of day. Talking it over with a friend or colleague often helps to put concerns into perspective, and may even show that what you’re worrying about is highly unlikely to ever happen. Truth be told, most of the things we fret over never actually come to pass. Just naming a fear gives you a greater sense of mastery over it.

If your worry is about something that is at least partially under your control, identify the worst-case scenario and then make a plan to deal with it. You will probably never have to implement this plan. But if you need to, you will be as ready as you can be.

Some worries cannot be vanquished; they can only be lived with. You may have to determine to accept the worry as a situation or potentiality that cannot be changed, at least by you. Pay attention to your emotional state and practice disengaging from negative thoughts. Meditation and/or prayer can help a lot here.

Try nature therapy. We live in one of the most beautiful environments on the planet. So get yourself out in it! Taking even a brief walk outdoors is proven to reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure.

A couple other tricks are to create a worry period (that’s right, schedule your worrying and only worry during that time), and to keep a worry diary. Writing down your concerns may help you to identify patterns and even come up with solutions.

Worries will always be with us. But you don’t have to let them rule you.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.