Like you, I have my fair share of worries. Or, should I say, I have my fair share of thoughts that, left unchecked, can persuade me to believe I have things to worry about.
Indeed, worry and anxiety seem to be increasing during these current times. The constant projection by the media of scary things that might happen causes our systems to stay in fight or flight much of the time.
It’s a very stressful way to live.
When viewed consciously, temporary and controllable worry can serve a purpose. The ability to see potential danger allows us the ability to plan and protect ourselves when necessary. Perhaps the ability to worry about future perils enabled our species to survive these thousands of years. Also, a little bit of anxiety can be a great motivator to make beneficial changes in life.
But excessive worry, the kind that keeps you up all night and feeling tense, insecure and frightened is counterproductive and very unhealthy.
Why do we excessively worry? Psychology suggests that subconsciously, we believe that worrying helps us prepare for the worst. There’s a hidden belief that if I worry enough about something happening, I’ll be safe. And, since most of the things we worry about never happen, this belief gets reinforced and rewarded.
But excessive worry, which is living the worst case scenario over and over in your mind, causes tremendous pain. Pain comes from feeling that a potential future problem is impossible to avoid or cope with. We feel powerless and emotionally paralyzed.
To choose to “just stop worrying” is easier said than done. I believe in a more gentle approach.
Here are 10 steps I try to practice when anxiety and worry start to invade my present moment:
- Don’t expect yourself to stop worrying all at once. Healing is a process.
- Acknowledge your feelings without judgment.
- Feel compassion toward yourself when something is worrying you.
- Ask yourself if your worry is serving a healthy purpose or dis-serving you.
- Question your worry thought: “Am I 100% certain that this thought is true?”
- What would I say to a good friend who has this same worry?
- Compartmentalize the time you choose to devote to this worry. Instead of letting the worry thought flow ceaselessly in your mind all day and night, make an appointment with yourself to worry later. This will make you feel more in control.
- Ask yourself “is this worry an imaginary “what if” that has grown out of control, or is it a real problem?
- Shift your focus from worst case “what ifs’ to solving the problem at hand. Ask for advice and assistance if necessary. Remember that you are not alone.
- Minimize your exposure to news media and instead, seek out people, pets and activities that bring you joy and comfort.
Because worry and anxiety are such a huge source of pain today, I’m working on a new hypnosis recording which I hope to release in the near future. I’ll keep you posted!
Until then, love yourself, pamper yourself with loving thoughts and activities and know that you are much stronger than your thoughts.