You’ve heard the terms: worry wart, glass half-empty people, fear mongers. None of us want to be known by such derogatory words. But… in these stressful times do you worry about the future, about your finances, your health, your country’s politics?
Worry is a habit; it can be broken. And these seem to be times in which there is much to worry about. But the downside of worry can be costly to both our mental and emotional well-being and our physical health. People overcome with worry tend to complain more, feel more stressed and nervous, and often lose sleep. They aren’t happy.
If any of the above rings a bell with you, maybe it’s time to plan your “anti-worry strategy.”
Here are eight suggestions to help you gain control of worrisome thoughts and emotions. Just the act of planning will help to reduce your stress levels. So, let’s get started.
- Realistic Expectations. Check your levels of realistic expectations. Life has always been difficult—there have always been things to cause concern. To expect every day to be smooth sailing is not rational. Your mindset must include awareness of the troubles this life can bring. That isn’t to say we see only the bad, because life is full of positive, happy and beautiful things as well. But there must be a balance of appreciation of the good while knowing there will be bad.
- Make a List. Often taking the time to write out our feelings, fears, problems and everything that is causing worry can help to quell the negativity. And naming a worry or fear can help to take the sting out of it. Are you worried about a relationship? Do you worry about things that may never happen? Or are you a problem-solver, listing the issues and then making a plan to address them?
- Express Yourself. Allow your emotions to be released. Feel your anger, go ahead and have a good cry. Mourn your losses. It does no good to pretend the sad or frightening things in our lives don’t exist. They do. When something bad happens, we need to allow ourselves to express our true feelings and express our honest thoughts. We’ll be better for it.
- Pinpoint the Facts. Face your generalized fears and define them. Change your “what ifs” to “this is the fact.” Do you have a general feeling that your health is in decline? If so, pinpoint the exact problems. Many of our health issues can be addressed by losing weight, engaging in more exercise, etc. but if your family has a history of heart disease, you can’t do more than take good care of yourself. Identify the things you can control vs. those you can’t.
- Put your worry on hold. Determine a time when you’ll deal with the things that are troubling you. The discipline it takes to wait will strengthen your resolve to deal with problems rather than just worry about them.
- Embrace the Positive. When worry begins to encroach on your day, do something positive to counteract it. Drink a comforting cup of tea, eat some chocolate, look at family photos, go outside and take a short walk—replace the negative with something positive.
- Go Inward. Engage in regular sessions of meditation or prayer. Give your mind and body time to slow down, contemplate the good, give over the worrisome thoughts to peaceful ones.
- Take Action. When you’ve determined which of the above efforts might work for you, take the time to write out your plan and post it in a prominent place in your home. When worry begins to trouble your day, read your plan and implement it.
No longer a worry wart, you can move forward to appreciate all the good things in life. Gather with friends, play together, laugh together. The old adage that life is too short to waste it, is very true. So, get that worry habit under control and you’ll see it fade into the background as the joy of everyday living takes its place.