What To Do With Worry
Let’s face it, there’s a lot to worry about this year. There’s the normal stuff:
“Do I have enough money to pay my bills?” “How will I cover my car tax?” “Are my kids getting enough vegetables?” “Am I impressing people in work?”
And then there’s the Pandemic related worries. “Is my family protected?” “Should I even be going to the supermarket?” “My mom must be lonely” “Is not seeing their friends impacting my child’s mental health?”
It’s very easy to say the words “Don’t worry” but actually stopping the feelings of anxiety is a much harder task. So what should we do when worries creep up on us and keep us awake at night? Here are a few tips on how to deal with worries when they begin to impact your life.
Give yourself a worry time out
It’s difficult to ignore or irradicate worries, so rather than push them to one side, set yourself a special time when you can consider them or dwell on them. Then if they creep up at other times of day, simply remind yourself that you can think about that later, you can even jot them down on a worry list, so you know you won’t forget them (this is also a great way to lessen the impact of a worry, as writing it down will help you to see just how serious, or not serious, the worry is). Try to ensure that your worry time isn’t right before bed and be sure to go back through your list, you will be amazed to see how your earlier worries seem less important after some time away.
Question your worries
Often our worries are caused by a specific way of thinking. From perfectionism (if I don’t get everything exactly right the rest of the day will be ruined) to focusing on negatives (I made a mistake, I’m going to get fired), and from doomsday predictions (there’s going to be a storm later, what if I crash while driving home in the rain) to believe that your inner feelings reflect reality (I feel like such an idiot, everyone is laughing at me). In order to overcome our worries, we must put them into perspective. Is my worry true or is it just what I believe? Yes, something negative happened, but what positives can I take from the experience? What would I say to a friend if they came to me with this worry? By challenging our worries we can decide how much power they should have in our lives and we can reject those that prove to be untrue.
Can you fix it?
Is your worry solvable or unsolvable? If it is solvable then start thinking of ways that you can fix it. You don’t need to sort everything out straight away, but once you accept that you have a plan that will change the problem, a weight will be lifted from your shoulders.
If the worry is something that is out of your control or you are using your worry as a way to predict what will happen in the future, then you need to challenge your way of thinking. If you spend your time worrying that something bad is going to happen in the future, try to reason your mind out of it. What are the chances of this bad thing happening? How many times has it happened before? How many times has it NOT happened before? If (against all odds) the worst does happen, what will you do to overcome it? Accepting that you do not have the power to control the future can be difficult, but planning out ways of coping with different scenarios can help you to control your worry and then put it to one side.
Distract yourself from your worry
Once you get stuck in a worry cycle it can be hard to snap yourself out of it. So try and distract or interrupt your worries.
- Get up and move, exercise is a great way to calm and distract your mind. Once you’re worried about running up that steep hill, you won’t have time to think about anything else. It will also help boost your endorphins, which can alter your mood and help you to view your worries in a more positive frame of mind.
- Meditate or breathe. Learning some meditation techniques or even some simple breathing exercises can help you to let go of your worries and focus on the present.
- Get out of your head. Read a book, watch a movie, listen to some music, do a puzzle. Find a way to distract your mind and make it focus on something else. A hobby that requires concentration, even if it’s a simple jigsaw puzzle, can help to take your mind somewhere else and break that worry cycle.
Talk it out
Speak to a friend, a colleague or a family member. They will be able to help you to put the worry into perspective or offer advice and even the act of saying the worry out loud can decrease its power.
If you find that your worries are becoming overwhelming or if they are affecting your day to day life then consider talking to a professional. There is lots of help and support available. If you don’t know where to start have a chat with your GP.
Worrying is a natural part of life and we do it for good reason, it is a defence mechanism designed to help us stay safe and avoid danger. However, worry should never dictate how we live our lives. In today’s world, it is easy to find a lot to worry about, from health to finances, to the future of our planet, but we can’t spend our lives worrying about things that we may not be able to control. We can only do what we can and after that, maybe consider turning off the news, ignoring the numbers and just focusing on being thankful for what we have, here and now.