It’s easy to get sucked into worry.  It might be an upcoming meeting or the launch of a new product.  You start imagining all the ways it could go wrong.

Did you do enough research? 

Was it the right kind of research? 

What if no one likes your idea? 

Or what if someone takes your idea and markets it better? 

Maybe you’re worried about an upcoming doctor appointment or stressful stories you keep seeing on the news.  You get the picture.   There’s no shortage of things to worry about.  Ever.

Brene Brown defines worry as, “a chain of negative thoughts about bad things that might happen in the future.” And it’s hard to escape.  Health, safety, money, having enough.  There’s an endless list of things you can worry about. And once your mind gets hooked on the possibility that bad things may happen, those bad thoughts multiply like rabbits.

This type of worry pattern is known as the doom loop.  “The cumulative effect of these factors has a greater impact than any single one, creating a powerfully negative outcome,” according to a recent article in Forbes magazine.

It often begins with uncertainty about how something will turn out. You’re not feeling confident and start imagining the worst.  You feel the impending doom start to build. Then one bad thought leads to another. Suddenly you’re in the doom loop with negative thoughts repeating and the outcome getting worse every time.  And you don’t even realize you’re stuck.

Eventually, you recognize how much time passed while stuck in the doom loop. You’ve gotten nothing done, you’re exhausted from all the worry, and the uncertainty still exists.

This space of navigating worry is tricky. You’re hardwired for survival. It’s part of your nature as a human being. Worry is a way of coping with the unknown. You think if you can imagine the worst, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes. And that might be true.

Yet, it drains your time and energy, and, in the end, worry gets you nowhere.

So how do you get out of the doom loop?

  1. Acceptance

Know you’re in the doom loop. Just recognizing that you’re worrying about something bad that might happen in the future helps stop the cycle. You are naming it for what it is – a doom loop.

Notice how much time and energy you are giving to worry. How else might you be spending this time?

  1. Gratitude

Gratitude helps your brain find safety.

You’ve probably heard of using gratitude to counter thoughts of worry. It helps your brain shift to feeling safe by considering what you have instead of what you might lose.

Spending some time each day on what you’re grateful for slows down your brain to help you get out of “flight or fight” mode.

  1. Success

Success helps you regain power. Worry makes you feel helpless and insecure. By celebrating your successes, you’re giving your brain things to counter the uncertainty.

At the end of your day, think about the things you did that had a positive outcome. This is slightly different from gratitude because these are things you did that ended well. Thinking about success, no matter how big or small can help you reclaim your feeling of power.

  1. Kindness

Be gentle when you find yourself back in the doom loop. Stopping the doom loop isn’t easy, and you find yourself stuck in it repeatedly during times of stress. Each time you catch yourself, gently come back to being present. Slowly start shifting your thoughts to what you have (gratitude) and what you have accomplished (success.)

Try some of these the next time you find yourself in the doom loop.

The more you practice these techniques, the easier it will be to recognize and overcome this pattern of worry.