What do you worry about? I mean, really worry about? Pick one BIG item and fill in the blank, “I worry about___________________.”
There is good news for us worrywarts. “New research illuminates what leads to excessive worrying-and what can be done about it.” 1
Researches have identified 5 areas that most people worry about the most: relationships, finances, work, lack of confidence and an uncertain future. But some of us worry too much. Agreed? Chronic worriers won’t let go….we hang onto everything, real or imagined. Our apprehensions affect our ability to function. It can be exhausting. We fret about not only a real problem but project it into something that may not be a problem or worry about something that is out of our control.
We are our own worse enemy, however. Some of us create situations that cause us to worry. No need to list them here, we know what they are, we may be in denial or avoidance about solving them or lack the ability to solve them so we worry.
I have many clients who talk talk talk during their treatment time, worrying about “what might happen” or “will happen” or “had happened but….” forming a bitter cycle of worry and anxiety. It’s like a merry-go-round where they can’t get off. “It is hard to stop, because excessive worrying triggers the brain areas that maintain arousal and that are related to fear.”2
The good news is that we can teach ourselves to stop. So, are you ready to stop worrying in 2018? I am!
According to Elizabeth Bernstein, writing in the Life & Arts section of the Wall Street Journal (2/28/2017), here is how:
- Start with a reality check. Ask yourself if the emotion you are feeling is equal in intention to the situation you are worrying about. I will add that is it a “real” situation? Has it happened yet? No? “But I just know that it will_________….” Really? And if you are in the situation, cut out all the drama and solve the darn problem. “This is the reality, not any more and not any less. This is how I plan to solve it.”
- Tell yourself a better story rather than focusing on the worst case scenario. I know, easier said than done but gotta start somewhere. Look at the problem from 180 degrees-we are aware of the downside but there is an upside, so find it. and focus on that instead.
- Make a plan to deal with the issue. Resolve it asap. Trust me, being in denial and avoidance does not solve it. So make that plan. And if it is a future event that you are worried about, make the plan to fix it now. You can do it.
- Set a timer, i.e., 15 minutes to worry about it and stop. Well, I have never known that to work. But here is how I deal with my worries…I do set a one hour timer-it’s the one hour that I spend with Mona, my hairdresser. I blab blab blab and then feel much better. Of course, I don’t know how Mona deals with all of it. A good tip, I am sure, helps. And talking out loud about our worries may help us to put things in perspective.
- Yell “Shred” (in your head). Picture your worries going through a paper shredder. Visualize them being destroyed. Well, if it would only work for my credit card bills, house payments, utilities, etc. but I get it. Once again, we create the issues that cause us to worry. Such as not setting enough money aside to pay fixed expenses or monthly expenditures. We know they are coming but we don’t manage them. Get a grip, shred the worries and deal with them and then you’ll feel better. And if you don’t, there’s always professional help. I find that Mona is cheaper than Dr. Phil.
- Distract yourself with music, exercise, a good book or movie. We “overly” worry about politics, North Korea, stock market, just to name a few issues, but is it worth the cost of our mental health? Not in 2018!
Happy New Year! May our year be filled with peace, prosperity and most of all, no worries. There is nothing that cannot be solved objectively.
So be it!
1,2 Wall Street Journal 2/28/2017 Life & Arts