Dealing with and overcoming worries

Use these activities to help cope and provide a practical approach when overwhelmed by feelings of worries 

It’s normal to feel worried, especially in challenging situations. However, sometimes these worries can become overwhelming and start affecting other areas of your life.

While we can never avoid having worries, these activities will help you to feel empowered and provide a practical approach to help stop your worries getting out of your control.

What do we mean by "worries"?

“Worrying” means thinking about something in your life that make you feel uncertain, uncomfortable, unhappy or frightened.

Sometimes these can be small worries like thinking about a problem at work that needs to be resolved, or they can be bigger things that have significant impact on your life or those you care about.

When worries become overwhelming, they can cause other feelings like stress and anxiety that can become too much for you to manage and may impact your everyday life and wellbeing.

A man sits on the edge of a bed slouched over with his hand on his head

Identifying your worries: What’s in your control?

One way to start managing your worries is understanding what we can and can’t control. Watch the video below on Circles of Control and complete the activity.

Circles of Control


Use the circles of control activity to explore how you might identify worries, think about what positive things you can do to handle worry, and to make plans to manage worrying about things you can’t control.

  1. draw the circles
  2. plot all your worries down that you can think of
  3. think about what worries can you control and which can’t you control


You will need a pen and paper for this activity

How to cope with worries

Now you’ve identified the worries, it’s time to think about what you can do , to help them becoming overwhelming and out of control. Often, we think about things from two perspectives, the cause and the effect. There are things we can do to try and address the causes. For example, if you are worried about a loved one, maybe you can talk to them, if you are worried about your health, maybe you can arrange a doctor’s appointment to discuss it with your GP.

There are also things we can do to ease and help the symptoms of worries, such as breathing exercises, distracting ourselves with something positive, going for a walk and or reaching out to a supportive friend or connection.

Some examples of healthy ideas for managing worries are:

  • speaking to friends and family, either about how you feel or just to boost your mood
  • seeking further support or information from those who can help
  • acknowledging and accepting how you feel, for example, telling yourself “yes, I am worried about this, and that’s okay”
  • taking steps to improve the situation, the circles of control activity could help
  • If worries are overwhelming you to the point of distress, taking a moment to breathe and think of something else can be helpful, but constantly avoiding it won’t help manage the cause


Take your circles of control from the previous activity and write down one thing you can do to manage the effects of worrying and one thing you can do to manage the cause.

Accessing support

It’s okay not to have all the answers. If you need support or help to work through things speak to supportive people  around you or seek specialised support from your doctor or contact NHS 111.

Understanding what you can control

Sometimes we can control part of a problem, but not all of it. Are there any worries that you can’t control at all?

It’s hard to stop worrying about things you can’t control, but it’s helpful to understand there might be nothing you can do to influence the outcome and then it might be better to learn to let go of those worries. It might help to do a visual activity.

  • Write down all the worries you cannot control and put them in a box or a jar
  • Put that box or jar in the recycling bin
  • mentally and emotionally acknowledge they are not in your control

Remember, you cannot solve everything. But most of the time you can do something to help yourself or others to feel better.

Using the C.A.L.M.E.R approach to help yourself

It's important to treat yourself with the same kindness and patience as you’d treat others. The C.A.L.M.E.R approach was developed by the British Red Cross to help manage worries and stress and you can use it to help yourself, as well as others.

When feeling overwhelmed with worry try the following steps:

Consider your own needs. Make some space for yourself and take a moment to reflect about how you feel.

Acknowledge how you feel. If you can, identify the feeling.

Listen to yourself. What is your body telling you? What physical feelings are you experiencing and could they be caused by emotions you are feeling?

Manage the worries with a positive way to ease how you feel, such as taking some deep breaths or speaking to someone.

Enable yourself to manage the worries by recognising what you can and cannot control.

Resource – what resources do you have around you that can help? Who else can you reach out to for support or guidance?

Use this technique to guide you next time you feel worried. Does it help you? Think about how it has or has not helped you.

Building a routine of healthy habits can help us to become more resilient and manage worries and challenges better. Explore more about creating a healthy routine and making a schedule to suit you.

> Creating a stable and healthy routine

Dealing with worries: Resources for young people and children

We can experience worry at any stage of life. These educational resources will help young people learn skills to manage feelings of worry and anxiety and can be used in the classroom and at home. 

Two young girls learning first aid at home on a tablet while sitting on a couch

Resources to help you cope with adversity

Everyone has to manage worries in their lives. Managing your wellbeing and mental health can help you build resilience and make it easier to deal with these harder moments. Use our wellbeing activities and information to support you, or try these resources.

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For activities offline, try downloading the Self-kindness toolkit (PDF) which includes information and engaging activities to boost your wellbeing.