It’s one of those words that feeds on itself. Just hearing the word worry can make us worry and then not stop worrying. That’s not to say there’s not a time and place for worrying. But this reaction can become habitual and dangerous to our overall health.
What is worry and why do we do it?
To worry is to give way to feelings of fear, doubt, anxiety, and guilt. It’s to let these feelings manifest into images of future problems—images we dwell on incessantly. To worry is to live in a state of anxiety. So why would we do this to ourselves?
Like anger and fear, for example, worry is something viewed as bad that can often save our lives. Without worry, none of us would still be here to figure out how to stop worrying. We face real dangers in our life. Worry can be a powerful defense mechanism.
When it becomes chronic, we worry when danger isn’t present. That’s when worry earns its negative reputation. In fact, the danger of worrying can become far worse than anything we’re worrying about!
Negative impacts of worrying:
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Weight gain/Digestive issues
- Hair loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of focus and concentration
- High blood pressure
- Memory loss
- Depressed immune system
- Holding onto hurts from the past
- Getting stuck on behaviours (compulsions)
- Oppositional behavior
- Addictive behaviors
- Chronic pain
- Cognitive inflexibility
- Eating disordrs
- Road rage
- Obessive-compulsive disorder
This daunting list is just a sampling. But it all adds up to a chronic state of mind that cannot sustain good health. We can become paranoid, irritable, anxious, and clinically depressed.
How to Stop Worrying
1. Accept the limits of your control
Conflict is unavoidable. Danger is a part of life. Everyone messes up and feels embarrassed at times. One of the lies worry tells us is that we can control all this. Acceptance and resilience goes a long way in shaping our worry patterns.
2. Set aside time to worry
It may sound silly at first but we can schedule in worry time, a creative constructive worry exercise that has a time limit. If we know we have things to worry about, why not set aside time to do so? Stop worrying from becoming part of our entire thought process.
3. Assess the people and situations in your life
Our home situation, our family, our job, and our friends can all play a big role in how much we worry. Our environment contributes to 95% of our stress and worry if we are not resilient and have ways to reframe this. Take a close, hard look at these factors. There may be some lifestyle changes waiting to happen.
4. Take regular tech breaks
Staring at a phone all day and/or keeping up with social media notifications is a recipe for anxiety. No matter how conditioned we are, the reality remains that we do not have to share everything and keep up with everything.
5. Practice mindfulness
When we stay in the present moment, worry loses a lot of its power. We’re not replaying the past. We’re also not predicting the future. In the here and now, clarity is possible. Meditation is a common choice for creating this mindset. Self-hypnosis is also a great way to become more resilient, and since we are often in a negative state of self-hypnosis (telling ourself something stressful) then why not learn to work with the mind in a positve way.
6. Keep a journal
Track your worry patterns. Monitor the causes and reactions. Analyze the outcomes. This will not only help you see more clearly but will come in very handy during counselling or coaching sessions.
Don’t worry, you can ask for help
When we lock into to a worrying state for a long enough time, we may need assistance in creating change. Worry will create its own checks and balances and shape us into patterns we refuse to see or simply cannot see. Working with a counsellor/coach is a proven approach for digging into the underlying reasons for chronic worry. Your patterns will be identified and explored. Your worries will be dragged out into the light. In most cases, this means they will be exposed as not worthy of your focus, but reframed into something that helps you move forward in a positive way. You can stop worrying. Asking for help is a giant first step.