The start to 2016 has been anything but ideal for investors, with share markets around the world crashing on falling oil prices and concerns regarding the Chinese growth engine.

It’s normal to be scared. Market volatility can be very difficult to come to terms with, while the emotions that it can evoke can be difficult to control.

But while your first instinct may be to sell, that would be a mistake. Selling can help ease your anxiety in the near term, but when the market stabilises there’s a good chance you’ll regret your actions.

Here are three things you can do to help ease your concerns…

  1. Avoid checking your portfolio or brokerage account

Constantly checking the share prices of your biggest holdings can exacerbate your temptation to sell. As difficult as it can be, try to switch off from the market and focus on the bigger picture.

  1. Remember, you own businesses

When you own shares, you are the legal owner of a small portion of the underlying business. Some companies are vulnerable to an economic downturn, but others are more than capable of surviving such events. Unless the quality of your underlying business, or your investment thesis has changed, don’t simply sell the shares instinctively.

  1. Build a portfolio of high-quality businesses

Avoiding the losers is even more important than picking the winners when it comes to successful investing. Don’t invest in speculative businesses with weak balance sheets, but instead focus on the companies that have proven track records and the ability to continue growing.

With the share market trading well below its high levels from early in 2015, there are plenty of great businesses whose shares are currently trading at compelling prices.

One such company is Burson Group Ltd (ASX: BAP). When times get tough, consumers tend to go into savings mode and avoid spending too much on discretionary items, such as new vehicles. Burson’s business is to sell parts to mechanics for the servicing and repair of older vehicles, which individuals tend to hold onto for longer when times get tough. That could result in greater sales in the long-run for Burson Group, together with greater margins if it can increase the prices it charges on those items.

Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) is another business you could consider adding to your portfolio. Although it is by no means a ‘risk-free’ investment idea, it has certainly proven its ability to withstand tough economic conditions in its 102 years of existence. The owner of businesses such as Coles, Bunnings and Officeworks also offers a 5.1% fully franked dividend yield which is very compelling in this low interest rate environment.

Another company to look at is CSL Limited (ASX: CSL), Australia’s $47 billion biopharmaceutical giant. CSL owns one of the world’s largest and most efficient plasma collection networks, while it also develops and manufactures products for the treatment of various bleeding disorders. No matter what happens in the economy, people still need to spend on healthcare giving CSL something of a defensive source of income.

Remember, as scary as the market gets sometimes, down periods are just as normal as market rallies. Volatility is the price of admission into share market investing, but those investors who stick around should be well rewarded in the long-term.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman owns shares of Burson. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Burson. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.