We’ve all been there in some form or another.
The pit in your stomach.
The flutter in your chest.
The sweaty palms.
The racing thoughts.
The lump in your throat.
The ache in your shoulders.
What if this happens? What if that happens? Maybe she’ll do this. Maybe he’ll think that. Where is she? What is he doing? What are they thinking?
That anxious stream of racing thought that tries to make us think we are problem-solving, but yet is not comfortable or productive whatsoever.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the effort we put into predicting the future had any bearing whatsoever on the outcome?
Maybe it does.
At least not to the positive.
But yet would it surprise you if I told you that worry isn’t all bad?
That anxiety doesn’t have to be a disorder?
When we step back and look in, worry is probably a very natural protective mechanism gone just slightly awry.
See, our body has a very strong innate need to protect itself, both physically and emotionally. Survival of the fittest right?
So anticipating consequences, planning, being prepared are all on the spectrum of worry and can be positive things. It can keep us and our loved ones safe and prepared and confident.
But when we venture into the side of fooling ourselves into thinking that we can control outcomes, other people or certain situations, it’s easy to fall onto that worry side of the spectrum that is not protective whatsoever.
In fact, it’s downright harmful.
The psychological stress of worry and anxiety has many negative emotional and physical consequences.
So how can you worry the “healthy way”?
7 Tips On How To Worry Without Letting It Destroy Your Day
1. Acknowledge Your Worry, Don’t Obsess Over It
Notice your thoughts, but don’t chase them down the rabbit hole. Step back and look at that train of thought and say “Oh that’s interesting! I wonder what that’s all about. What is this trying to tell me?” With a little distance and a detective-like curiosity (not judgment!), it’s amazing how the situation can clear.
2. Do What You Can, But Don’t Strive For Perfection
Progress, not perfection. Do you hate it when people say that as much as I do? It’s true though! There is no perfect, so throw in the towel. Now that doesn’t mean staying on your couch watching reality TV and eating hoho’s all day. You can still set goals, reach for the stars, be in a constant state of improvement… just release the idea that there is a destination of perfection. Enjoy the path.
3. Support Your Loved Ones, But Don’t Carry Their Burden
Oh boy is that hard right? We love to help people and we need to be needed. It’s a big ego boost when you get right down to it. But the reality is we don’t need to be needed to be valuable. We don’t need to take charge to be accomplished. Our path is our path and others’ paths are others’ paths. Don’t hijack someone else’s trip by living their life, even if it’s disguised as being helpful.
4. Think Worst Case Scenario Briefly, Then Move On To Likely Case Scenario
When you find yourself on the worry train, inject the thought “and then what would I do?” Chances are when you find yourself thinking of the worst case scenario and then asking yourself what would you do, you’ll realize that even in the worst of situations, you will be able to handle it! It will be okay.
5. Have A Worrying Buddy–But Please No Wallowing
Back in my drama-filled early twenties, my best friend introduced me to one of life’s must read books, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The second agreement is “Don’t take things personally” -- one of the toughest agreements for both me and my friend at the time. We got in the habit of noticing the applications of this agreement in our everyday lives and pointing them out to one another. Rather than being sucked into each other’s stories like a wallowing buddy would do (“Seriously girl!? I can’t believe he said that to you! I would definitely not call him back until…”), we got in the habit of calling each other out (“That’s got rule number two written all over it. Do not take that personally. That is his issue.) Having support from someone who knows and accepts you, weaknesses and strengths, is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to find it and call on it. Whether it’s a friend, family member, church group, or counselor, we are not meant to navigate life without support.
6. Keep Your Mind Off The Worry And The Worry Off Your Mind
You are the police of your mind. Only you can see it speeding, slow it down, pull it over and send it on a different path. Once you practice noticing your worry and acknowledging it without judgment, signal it to stop (it’s okay if you literally find yourself talking to yourself) and give your mind something else to focus on. This can be a positive thought, a statement of gratitude, a reassuring mantra or a physical distraction.
Well duh. Of course, we need to breathe right? I’m talking, really breathe though. The majority of people spend so much time breathing shallowly that they’re practically hyperventilating. Add a dose of worry to that and you really start huffing and puffing. Feel what it’s like to breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds, five times a row. In, two three four five. Out, two three four five. Now that’s a deep breath. It is impossible to feel anxious after doing that five times. Do this when you need help stopping the worry train and work it in five times a day to help prevent anxious feelings.
So the next time you feel anxious or worried, notice it calmly. Remember that these are natural and sometimes even helpful feelings. What is there to learn from that feeling? Take a deep breath. Hit the stop button. Reroute and travel on my friend.
Cheers To Your Day!
P.S. - Just a quick reminder that if you'd like to be a part of the Doctors Without Borders Fundraiser I'm hosting you can join in here. All profits will go straight to Doctors Without Borders to provide medical relief for the people displaced by the war in Syria.