By Jacqueline Samaroo
I’ve heard it said that ‘worrying is like praying for what you don’t want to happen’. Excessive worrying can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. These, in turn, affect your physical, emotional and mental health. But, should you be yearning for an absolutely worry-free life? Is it even possible?
Reflect on it and you will see that a little worrying is actually healthy. But in this case, we wouldn’t call it ‘worry’—it’d be more appropriately labeled constructive or productive thought. This type of thinking is needed to put plans in place to safeguard our health, achieve financial security, and ensure our children’s safety. Productive thought propels us into productive action. If you find yourself thinking about something that you have no control over (can’t presently do anything about), that’s ‘worry’.
Worry often leaves us incapable of taking action to find a solution. It can also affect how we perform in other areas of our lives.
Four Ways to Take Control of Your Worrying
The key to worrying less is taking back the power that worrying has over you. Here are four suggestions you can try.
- Worry On the Outside
Keeping your fears and anxieties locked away inside you can be damaging. Bring them into the light by talking to a friend or family member with a compassionate ear. You can also try writing down your worries as they pop up then move on with the rest of your day. Deal with them later on in the 15 or so minutes you set aside as your “special worry time.” Think of it as putting worrying in its place!
- Question The Validity of Your Worries
Oftentimes, our excessive worrying is based on unfounded assumptions, unrealistic expectations, and things over which we have no control. Reflect on what it is you are worried about and how your worrying is being manifested (short temper, constant headaches, etc.). You may realize it is something you need to let go of. Otherwise, decide to take action toward finding a solution and changing how you react to the issue.
- Practice Mindfulness Meditation
The ancient practice of mindfulness meditation has recently gained widespread popularity. It is often used in mental health therapy as a coping strategy and involves focusing your mind on what is happening in the present moment. It has been shown to reduce stress and to aid our acceptance of the things we simply cannot change. There are many online resources dedicated to teaching mindfulness meditation techniques.
- Break The Cycle of Worrying
Devote less time and energy to worrying by keeping yourself occupied with something else. Learn a new skill, go dancing, jogging, or take up yoga. It is a fact that exercise causes us to release “feel good” hormones. These will definitely help to counteract the depressive and anxious feelings brought on by worrying.
You can also consider reaching out to a licensed therapist or counselor if you think professional help would work best for you.