I am a worrier. BIG time. It started when I was a child and I worried about grades, tests, what people thought of me, giving speeches in my ministry school, ect. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that my father was a minister and an elder in our church and my mother was a full time missionary. It was drilled into me that any misstep on my part could mean I stumbled someone else and they would lose their everlasting inheritance. That is a lot of pressure for a kid and I became perpetually anxious. The one only wrinkle I have on my 33 year old face is a line between my eyebrows from frowning… or worrying.
Learning how stop worrying is something many of us wish we could do. And in truth, we can. Worry is inevitable in some situations, but many of us worry far more than we need to. Worry has simply become a habit and, like all habits, it can be broken.
Can Worrying Can Be Productive?
There are two types of worry. The first is the kind of worry that’s good for us, that makes sure we take care of things we need to, like turn off the coffee pot. The second kind of worry is just a waste of time and leads to mental exhaustion and stress – this is the kind of worry over things that we have no control over.
Think carefully about what you’re worrying about. Learning how not to worry means learning how to differentiate between the two types of worry. If it IS something you can do something about, make sure you take steps to do that. If you sit there doing nothing you’ll only keep worrying. If you know you’ve done all that you can, and there’s nothing more you can do, keep telling that to yourself to put it out of your mind. I usually get a burning sensation in my stomach and chest when I am worrying so that is a physical sign that I need to let it go. It also reminds me that worry and stress are bad for my health.
If I am driving downtown for instance and don’t know the place I need to go by memory (which I hate to do) I will feel that burning and I have to breathe deeply for a few moments and remind myself that if I cannot find the place I can turn around and go home. There is no reason I HAVE to be anxious if I can’t find the place.
When I am at home and I feel that sensation I will go in the bathroom, take off my shirt, and let the shower blast me with cold water for a few seconds. It gives me jolt, gets the blood pumping, and immediately snaps me out of my worry mode. Try it!
Catch Yourself When You’re Worrying
Many of us get carried away with worrying without even noticing! Sometimes we can be doing one thing and suddenly find our thoughts wandering, or we start looking up things on the internet related to our worry. Unless this is going to do something to solve a problem, it’s a waste of time.
But how do you catch yourself? It is going to take practice. If you find yourself worrying at work, put a post-it on your computer or your desk. It doesn’t have to say “stop worrying” – it could be as simple as a picture of a smiley face to remind you to take control of your thoughts again. You also need to be actively looking for worrying thoughts. You won’t always catch worry out quickly, but you’ll gradually catch yourself sooner and sooner.
Remember, learning how not to worry takes practice. At first you might not think that these strategies are working, but with practice you’ll find that taking your mind away from your worries is easier and easier.
How do you let go of worry?
Related article: 6 Natural Ways to Beat Stress