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Notes from How not to Worry

Chapter 1: Worrying, anxiety and stress are all part of a cycle that can affect your health. Source

  • The key to combating them is remembering this simple motto: “Stop before you spiral.”
  • Worrying is part of a cycle, where the next stops are anxiety and stress
  • Worrying is both a cause and effect of anxiety or stress
  • Stress weakens your immune system and leaves you more susceptible to illnesses, as well as decreasing your sex drive.
  • stress makes you stupid, as you’re constantly reacting to a threatening world rather than acting rationally.
  • you lose the ability to simply enjoy the present moment

Chapter 2: Whether it’s past experiences or a fear of the unknown, confront the cause of your worries. Source

  • One of the main reasons people worry is their past
    • Past experiences can often manifest themselves as hypersensitivity to potential danger.
    • becoming aware of the way events trigger memories of your past
  • the fear of the unknown – one of the most powerful causes of worry.
    • because it’s beyond your personal control
    • get to know yourself better and ask yourself why you’re worrying

Chapter 3: Your rational brain tries to reign in the worries stemming from your primitive and emotional brains. Source

  • The primitive brain is located deep within your subconscious and controls the “fight or flight” stress response
  • the primitive and emotional brains just aren’t very good at telling the difference between real threats or threats with low impact
  • body overreacts to everyday events
  • The rational brain, by contrast, helps keep worries in check.
  • ask yourself what someone who was more rational would’ve done.

Chapter 4: Awareness is the first of three steps that’ll allow you to start tackling your worries rationally. Source

  • Ask yourself “Where is my worry coming from?”

  • three categories – situational, anticipatory or residual stress.
  • Situational stress is a form of anxiety related to what’s happening in the present.
  • anticipatory stress: This is the anxiety you feel when you’re thinking about the future
  • Residual stress pertains to the past.
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a good example
  • calmly ask yourself “Why do I feel this way?”

Chapter 5: Analyze your worries in order to understand their root cause. Source

  • The next step is: analysis. 
  • Historical worries are a form of anxiety that mirror your experiences in the past
  • Hysterical worry is the exact opposite – it’s deeply irrational
  • there’s the helpful worry – a form of rational behavior. This kind of worry is caused by reflecting on a real problem,
  • ask what you can do about them.
  • historical worry, your best bet is to seek emotional support
    • Letting your feelings out doesn’t just make you feel better, it also helps provide clarity about the source of the anxiety that’s been bugging you
  • contextualize your anxiety by looking at relevant statistics, and interrupting your own thought process

Chapter 6: The final step to tackling worry is taking action and focusing on outcomes you can influence. Source

  • You’re actually much more influential than you give yourself credit for.
  • Use a sliding scale of zero to ten – zero means you have no control whatsoever, while ten means you’re fully capable of determining the outcome.
  • start ranking your worries. Focus your time and energy on solving the ones which rank highest
  • [[Circle of Concern]] from 7 Habits of Highly effective people

Chapter 7: Your imagination is a powerful tool that can both trigger and alleviate worrying. Source

  • imagine the crowd naked” trick that’s used to calm your nerves when giving a speech.
  • ask yourself how you can influence the outcome.
  • pick a role model she could imagine herself as next time she gave a presentation.
  • imagine four advisors you can ask for assistance in important areas like work, health and relationships.
  • What, for example, would the Dalai Lama say about this particular quandary?

Chapter 8: Change your personal worry triggers, stop trying to please others and learn to ask for help. Source

  • You wouldn’t tolerate someone else constantly criticizing and undermining you, so why should you put up with it just because you’re the one doing it?
  • stop trying to please everyone around you.
  • swallow your pride and ask for help and advice

Chapter 9: Final summary Source

  • There’s nothing like exercise as a remedy for anxiety. Getting your blood pumping improves your circulation and releases natural opiates called endorphins, leaving you feeling cooler, calmer and – most importantly ­– happier.


  • MOC Presentation and Public speaking
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