Are you one of those people who worry a lot? Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep, wondering how you are going to pay the bills, pass that exam, or even just get through the next day, with all those things that are on your to-do list?
How do you feel when you worry about stuff? Do you feel, happy, content, and enlivened?
Or do you feel stressed, anxious, uptight, and fearful?
Are you thinking about now, or are you thinking about what is yet to come?
Worry takes us away from living our lives fully in the present moment and causes us to be consumed with fantasies about the future being a fearful and terrible place, where doom and gloom awaits us. Does worry serve any useful purpose?
The fear flight, fight response is kicking in and is on autopilot. If there were a genuine life or death situation, we would be justified in our response. But worry? More often than not, the thing we worry about does not come to pass. Worry is a useless habit that saps our strength and our well-being.
Here are some thoughts on how you can stop it:
- Next time you fall into the cycle of worry, firmly say, “STOP!” to yourself. This helps disrupt the washing machine of repetitive and unwanted thoughts.
- Give yourself a break. Go do something else to distract you from your worries.
- Instead of getting stuck in worry, take action to overcome the problem you are worried about. What small first step towards a solution could you take right now?
- Identify your thoughts. Are you worried, for instance, that you will end up a “bag lady” on the street? Can you find any evidence to refute this idea? How realistic is this idea? If you have evidence contrary to the worry and you know, it is unrealistic, then why continue to think that thought?
- Create an affirmative statement to counteract the worry. For instance, replace the above belief (“I’m going to be a bag lady on the street”) with, “I am safe, with a wonderful home, and I have financial security.”
- What good is worry? What does it do for you? Does it move you forward towards your goal or does it keep you stuck? Is it useful? Knowing how useless worry is and seeing how counterproductive it can be in terms of accomplishing your goals, might help you to move out of it when you catch yourself going there.
- Practise staying present. Staying with what is happening in the moment prevents you from worrying. You will find that worry keeps you locked in the future and prevents you from paying attention to the present moment. When you can appreciate each moment by paying attention to it, you will live your life more fully and have a richer, more fulfilling experience than if you remain stuck on the “what if’s”.
- Breathe. Watch your breathing and allow it to slow and deepen. Worry increases anxiety and causes shallow breathing. When you breathe deeper, you slow down anxiety, worry, and decrease stress.
- Practise relaxation regularly. This helps alleviate your stress levels, and when you are relaxed, your mind will slow down and you will not think such worrisome thoughts. You will feel peaceful and calm.
- Visualise reaching your goals successfully. Picture the outcome you want in detail.
- Practise gratitude. When you are truly grateful, you feel happy and content and there is no room for worry.
Worry is a useless condition that adversely affects your body, mind, and spirit. Why waste your time on worry?