Here are 8 healthy ways to deal with it
Worry… we’ve all felt it, some more than others. That uneasy feeling that is so hard to shake off; the knot on the stomach, the anxiety, the constant overthinking… it is a very real and debilitating feeling, and one that’s so hard to get rid of. Before you know it, there is a storm brewing inside your head, creating chaos within, putting a strain on both your mental and physical health.
Worrying has become a chronic, widespread issue in today’s society. Most of us seem to constantly worry about our future, our finances, our relationships – or the lack of, sickness, fears, etc. There is an endless list of issues that keep us trapped in constant worry, which stops us from feeling joy, fun and happiness. So let’s work on helping you reduce worrying now. While worry in itself is not bad, too much of it can lead to anxiety, which can have a lasting impact on our health and happiness.
Whilst worrying is a very unpleasant feeling, it is worthy to note that the fact that we are having this feeling is a warning sign that something is off and we need to start paying attention to it. So rather than reacting to it negatively, I would like to invite you to consider this feeling as an opportunity to be curious about what’s really triggering it in the first case, the root cause, so to speak.
You may feel worried about possible negative outcomes, in which case you are really having an opportunity to identify these fears and do something about it before they become a reality. For example, you may be afraid of failing an exam, in which case, you may be motivated to study hard for it; you may worry about getting sick, which may give you the kick start that you need to make you eat healthier choices and exercise.
Worry can in fact help you avoid potential negative outcomes, and helps you plan adequately for it. So be open to view worry as your body’s ability to speak to you and get you on the straight and narrow. If you are able to look at worry as a benefit and act on it, then your work here is done.
“For those worries you simply cannot solve, consider embracing uncertainty.”
For other people however, worry can become a problem if they are unable to turn off their worries, and they feel like they are having a constant cycle of endless repetitive thoughts, without it leading to positive problem solving. In this case, worrying can lead to stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, digestive issues and even depression, to name just a few. You see, if you spend most of your time worrying, you will also be creating unpleasant events or circumstances in relation to the energy that you are focusing on. In essence, you will be manifesting what you are actually worrying about, just because you are constantly thinking and worrying about it.
I have said it many times, and I will say it again: what you focus on, grows. Constant, endless worrying can really affect our work, studies, relationships and life in general. If this is you, I hear you. It is not easy to live with worry consistently, which is why I want to share with you 8 healthy ways to deal with it, so you can gain your life back:
1. Accept your worry.
In the presence of a negative emotion, one of our first instincts if to run away or hide from it. Most of us aren’t really being educated on how to identify and deal with emotions, and are taught to hide and dismiss them. Not dealing head on with negative emotions will only make matters worse. If you want to get rid of worry, you must start by admitting to yourself that you are feeling worried, and accept it wholeheartedly.
We all have it, and you must be OK facing it and accepting it for what it is, an emotion that hasn’t been dealt with yet. You can reframe the way you think about worry as a signal of a problem that needs to be solved, and the actual worrying is your body’s way of communicating with you. Allowing the worry to continue to live within you without you doing anything about it is simply not an option, and a waste of your time.
2. Identify your worries, and decide what worries are worth tackling.
You simply cannot deal with worry until you become clear as to what your worries really are. Most of us tend to assume that we know what we are worried about, but in my experience working with many clients, we are truly only aware on the surface level of what’s really worrying us. By understanding all of your worries, you will be able to discern between the 3 following options:
1) This is a valid worry that I need to work on and find a solution for.
2) This worry is illogical and I have no control over it – so I need to find a way to let go (i.e. reframing it/seeking professional help, etc).
3) This is simply noise and I can just cross it off the list so I can free up more space to tackle the real worries. Many times, our brains run thoughts habitually and repetitively, and isn’t aware that it’s time to let go. By becoming aware of these thoughts, we can make the decision to stop them.
In order to identify your worries, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:
• What am I worried about?
• What am I worried will happen?
• Is this a real problem that I’m facing, or a “what if ”?
• Do I have any control over it?
• Is this a warning sign that I need to work on it, or am making it bigger than it needs to be?
• What’s the worst that could happen?
Spending a few minutes on finding clarity in this way can save you whole lot of time, energy and suffering. Accept the things you cannot change, and focus on the ones you can.
3. Schedule time for your worries.
This is not a joke. Research shows that people that commit to intentionally allocate some specific time for worry, are able to go through their days with much less of it. A very helpful strategy to help you minimise worry is to allocate 15-30 minutes a day initially, ideally at the same time, to deal with whatever is troubling you, and to consider a solution. If you put this strategy in place and do it consistently, you will find that worrying throughout your day will reduce dramatically.
You are not stopping the worry, you are just postponing it, and you know that you will be dealing with it at the allocated time. During this time, write your worries down. Letting all your emotions out on paper helps empty the fears out of your mind. Use your worry time productively by thinking of solutions to the worries
4. Make time for mindfulness and meditation.
Some of the most effective strategies to stop worrying are the ones based in mindfulness practices, which involves non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Reliving the past or worrying about the future is an easy way to get carried away by disaster scenarios.Instead, spend more time and attention in the present moment. If you feel you are starting to worry, take a moment to slow things down. Take a few deep breaths and become more aware of what is happening all around you right now. Take it all in with all your senses.
Feel it, see it, smell it, hear it and sense it on your skin. And feel your worries melt away with this mindfulness technique. Additionally, taking time to meditate daily can really help reduce anxiety, as brain scans show. Studies on meditation show that it doesn’t just lower anxiety levels, but it also has effects on the areas of the brain that control emotions, thinking and worrying. Meditation takes your attention away from your mental chatter and places it on the present moment, which creates a feeling of inner calm and serenity. 4 Make time for mindfulness and meditation.
Some of the most effective strategies to stop worrying are the ones based in mindfulness practices, which involves non judgmental awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Reliving the past or worrying about the future is an easy way to get carried away by disaster scenarios. Instead, spend more time and attention in the present moment. If you feel you are starting to worry, take a moment to slow things down. Take a few deep breaths and become more aware of what is happening all around you right now. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, see it, smell it, hear it and sense it on your skin. And feel your worries melt away with this mindfulness technique.
Additionally, taking time to meditate daily can really help reduce anxiety, as brain scans show. Studies on meditation show that it doesn’t just lower anxiety levels, but it also has effects on the areas of the brain that control emotions, thinking and worrying. Meditation takes your attention away from your mental chatter and places it on the present moment, which creates a feeling of inner calm and serenity.
Getting your heart pumping is a sure way to beat stress and worry. Exercising affects the brain activity of serotonin – a.k.a. the “happy” hormone. Studies actually show that in the long term, exercise works better than medication, because few things work better than consistently working out to release inner tensions and to move out of a headspace prone to worrying. Working out makes you feel more decisive and focused, helps you build a stronger body and it also has plenty of mental benefits – this is an easy choice if you are serious about getting rid of your worries!
6. Find evidence to back up your worries.
I want to invite you to spend some time going back into those times when you were worried about something, and whether those worries became a reality. Most likely, most things you worry about have never happened. You may argue that bad things happen to good people, and you are right, however worrying constantly about what could happen won’t stop these unfortunate events from happening. On the contrary, the more time you spend focused on the the unpleasant aspects of life, the more you will seem to attract.
So rather than constantly worrying about what may happen, we could just learn to let things we cannot predict be, and if they do happen, then we just simply deal with them, in the best way that we can, as we have always done. Much learning and growth comes from such situations. This is a far better approach than the constant worry about may never eventuate into a reality. So when you feel worries creeping up, ask yourself: How many of my previous worries or fears did actually happen? If you are like me, then the answer will be very few. And even the few ones that did eventuate, were nowhere near as painful or horrible as I expected them to be. So keep reminding yourself that the probabilities of worries coming to life are working in your favour.
7. Problem solve your worries away.
If you are concerned that your worry is legitimate, take it a step further and create some time to look at ways to solve this problem. Make sure that you are very clear as what it is that you are worried about, and write it down. Think of any possible ways to solve it. You may find that you are either able to solve it fully, or not completely. If this is the case, try to identify what’s needed to fully come to a resolution, i.e. do you need more information, support, a way to minimise risk, learn a new skill… identify the steps needed and take action accordingly. Once you have a plan and start taking action towards solving the problem, you’ll find the worries melting away.
For those worries you simply cannot solve, consider embracing uncertainty. Many of us need certainty and predictability in order to feel some sense of control over the future. In such cases, worrying isn’t the answer. Instead, you need to accept that uncertainty is a part of life, and that no amount of worry will create the outcome you are after. The truth is that you don’t know whether something bad – or great – may happen in the future. So focus on problem solving those things you can control and learn to tolerate some discomfort.
*A worthy note under this section that I would like you to also consider is this – if you want to worry less, you many need to keep your online addiction under control. All the time that you spend scrolling through social media and being online is not doing your mental health any favours. So learn to take control of your online habits before technology controls you.
8. Speak your worries out loud.
Instead of letting them live and grow wild inside your head, let your worries out into the light. This may sound simple, and yet it is one of the most effective ways to deal with worry. By talking about your worries out loud with someone close to you, you are able to see the situation for what it really is. Venting about you worries will help you gain perspective and insight on the issue and you may even start to wonder what got you so worried in the first place.
Our worries always seem much bigger and worse than they really are in our heads, so have the courage to find someone to talk to so you can work through the situation. Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask for other people’s perspective on the topic. It may be just what you need to help you see what you are too close to observe.
If you don’t have anybody to talk to, or find it very difficult, you can always resort to journaling – spilling it out of your mind onto paper by writing about it. The most important aspect for this to work is to be able to let your worry out of your head and seeing the logic or reflecting about it either by talking or reading about it. You will find much clarity and ways to move forward whilst kissing your worries away.
As you can see, there are many ways in which we can work on proactively reducing and even eliminating our worries. I invite you to work through each one of the above steps to help you enjoy more of a worry-free life and savour more of the great things that life has to offer.
Here’s to your success!
With much love and appreciation,