How Focusing On The Things You Can Control Can Help Reduce Anxiety

How Focusing on the Things You Can Control Can Help Reduce Anxiety

If you struggle with anxiety or are overly worried about the things happening in your life, one way to relieve stress and suffering is by learning to let go. This usually means choosing your battles carefully and releasing the need to be in charge of the things you can’t control.

Focusing on the things you can control (and letting go of the rest) can increase your peace of mind, and with that comes empowerment. I’ve got you covered if you’re tired of feeling overwhelmed by things outside your control.

This quick post will explore strategies that can help shift your attention from the things that make you feel powerless to things you can control.

Letting Go of Things Outside Your Control

Having things go our way makes us feel in charge of our lives. And it is normal to feel frustrated ― and even a bit angry ― when we can’t do anything about the happenings in our lives.

Unfortunately, constant frustration (because we can’t influence outcomes) can easily lead to depressive and anxiety symptoms, as research has shown.

In other words, your best bet to reduce worrisome thoughts and anxious feelings is recognizing and letting go of things outside your control. This will save you a lot of effort and unnecessary suffering and bring inner peace, regardless of what’s happening around you.

While the specifics are different for everyone, you must learn to surrender and accept some things in life, such as:

The Past

You can’t change the past, no matter how hard you try. And since the concept of a time machine is still science fiction, there is no way to actually go back in time to change anything. The best you can do is to learn from the past, let go of mistakes, and move on.

Instead of focusing on the pains of the past, channel your energy to influence the future. And even in doing so, understand that you can’t control every aspect of the future. However, by taking proactive steps, like setting goals and taking consistent action to achieve those goals, you can shape your future to a large extent.

Other People’s Opinions and Actions

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, whether or not they are right. Trying to coerce your spouse, partner, children, subordinates, associates, family, or friends to share your opinion can lead to resentment, distrust, and strained relationships.

Similarly, there’s little you can do about other people’s behaviors. However, you can control your response to their actions and choose who you spend time with.


There are lots of things you can control or at least influence (with plenty of effort in some cases), but change is definitely not on that list.

Trying to resist change is a complete waste of your precious time and valuable energy, which only creates more suffering. The best approach to change is to embrace it, accept the discomfort that comes with it, and learn how to seize the new opportunities it brings.

Unfortunate Events

Although we can try to prevent them, accidents still happen and can cause a lot of stress. Instead of worrying about eventualities, a better way to reduce anxiety is to learn strategies that can help you stay calm and think straight during emergencies.


Ever wondered why more people worry about their looks nowadays? It comes down to low self-esteem and anxiety, driven mostly by a desire for social acceptance.

You can’t change your genes or control hereditary conditions, but you can make healthy lifestyle choices to improve the quality of your life.

Focusing on the Things You Can Control

Focused man touching the side of his face

Here’s one way to be more intentional in life; channel your focus and efforts to where they can create real impact.

This means identifying the things you can influence and doing what you can to create the change you want ― of course, without imposing your will on others.

Doing this releases fear and allows you to create happy experiences, healthy relationships, and a better quality of life.

What exactly can you control in life? Start with these suggestions and expand the list as you improve.

What You Feed Your Mind

Mainstream media, as well as social media, is rife with a ton of negative news. You can’t always control world events and how news outlets spread negative news, but you can limit your exposure to them.

Instead of inundating yourself with gloomy information, deliberately feed your mind with positivity. Read good books, listen to uplifting podcasts, and watch inspirational movies.

Even if your work revolves around the media, remember to create time to consume inspiring stories to keep your views balanced.

Who You Hang Out With

Sometimes, you can’t choose those in your life. For example, you can’t always choose your family, work colleagues, or classmates. However, you can choose who you spend your time with as well as how you interact with those in your life.

Nagging people into doing as you wish will create friction in your relationships, but that doesn’t mean you should put up with unhealthy relationships.

If you can’t stand someone’s behavior, find ways to limit your interactions with them. This could mean ending the relationship or spending as little time as possible with them.

Remember, your well-being is more important than enduring a relationship that robs you of inner peace.

Your Reaction to Something Negative

You can’t control what happens, but you can control your response to what happens. Typically, this means learning to stay on top of your thoughts and emotions in challenging situations.

Instead of acting from a reactionary place when something negative happens, you take time to process your thoughts and emotions before responding.

As you probably already figured, getting a handle on your reaction in difficult situations takes practice and patience. But it is worth the effort because controlling your response means your actions are not at the mercy of external circumstances.

What You Do in Your Free Time

Instead of worrying about how little your free time is, thinking of ways to make the most of it is a more productive use of your downtime.

Here are a few things you can do in your spare time to feel more in control of your life:

  • Spend time with the important people in your life (family, friends, and uplifting individuals)
  • Exercise to stay fit and healthy
  • Do the things you love, like hobbies and interests, to keep your mind sharp. By the way, mindless internet surfing doesn’t qualify as a hobby
  • Participate in a cause you believe in or volunteer and give back to society to build your sense of purpose in life
  • Take classes to build your resume and prepare yourself for better opportunities

How You Care for Your Body

While it might not seem obvious, making time for self-care can reduce anxiety about health issues and the pressure of societal acceptance.

Let me restate what I’ve pointed out earlier: you might be powerless about your genes and hereditary conditions, but you can improve your quality of life by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Fortunately, these choices are usually simple and include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated. It is also important to stay active by including regular exercise in your routine.

Of course, you can choose to consume alcohol (if that’s something you like), but I recommend limiting your alcohol intake. And whatever you do, avoid smoking. If you’re currently a smoker, consider quitting. You can be more in charge of your health if you stay away from smoking.

Your Focus

If there’s one thing you should strive to control, it is your focus. That’s because your attentional focus influences your perception of the world and your response to it.

Here’s another way to say it: your focus shapes your reality.

This is the whole idea behind positive teachings like the Law of Attraction and manifesting through the power of intentions. Your focus has a lot to do with what you think and how you feel, so getting a handle on what you give attention to can create significant positive changes in your life.

Here’s the thing, though.

Focusing on the things you want can be tricky in a fast-paced world filled with many stressors.

This is why I recommend having a couple of attention-sharpening practices up your sleeve to help you hold your focus on the things you truly want.

Consider mastering practices like mindfulness meditation and deliberate breathing to calm and ground you in the present moment. Remember to take breaks during work or study and avoid multitasking.

Choose Your Battles Wisely: Concern Yourself With Only the Things You Can Control

Life can get overwhelming sometimes, and despite your best efforts, things can spiral out of control.

Whenever that happens, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you don’t have to be in charge of everything. Direct your focus to what you can change, tackle one thing at a time, and let go of the rest.

This is the key to a less stressful and happier life.

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