Worrying can be very debilitating, especially when you are not acting on the worry. When we worry about something, we are really starting to fear the worst things that can happen in any given situation. Or we worry about past events and what might have happened.
For example, parents constantly worry about their children from when they are young to when they become adults. They worry that they will not make friends at school, they worry when they go out at night with their friends, they worry that they have made the right choices in life.
You can never run out of things to worry about and if you do you will worry that there is nothing to worry about.
When worrying is good
Not all worrying is bad; everyone does it from time to time. However, when we spend too much time worrying then it can make us tense, anxious and cause sleeping problems.
Worry is good if it makes you better prepared for a situation. For example; you are going on camping trip and you worry that you will get a flat tire, so you check your spare tire, you check the garages close by the route you are taking, you make sure you have all the right equipment to change the tire This is a good kind of worry as it makes you stop and think and prepare well for a situation.
Worry is good if you are able to turn it into a plan of action. For example, you are worried that you will not be able to pay the mortgage this month. Instead of burying your head and hoping it goes away, you take action and call the bank and explain your situation. Your bank doesn’t want to take your house so you come to an agreement which is agreeable to both of you. You have taken action on your worry, and therefore your worry stops when you have managed to agree something.
Worry is good if it makes you pay attention. Worrying about the weather will never stop the rain from falling on your outdoor garden party. However, if you pay attention to the sky and put up a gazebo when the sky turns gray then being aware that the rain might come has helped you prepare for this.
If you constantly worry about something without ever taking action then this is when it becomes destructive.
5 Steps to stop worrying
- The 1 year rule
If you ask yourself ‘is this going to matter this time next year’, it helps you to come at your worry from another angle.
- Allocate yourself worry time
This may sound a strange thing to do however if you allocate 30 minutes per day to worry about all your worries, you can spend less time during the day worrying. When a worrying thought comes into your head say to yourself ‘I’ll worry about that in my worry time.’
- Banish the ‘uncontrollable’ worries
Uncontrollable worries serve no purpose whatsoever and should be eliminated from your mind. These are worries such as worrying about the weather, or worrying about exam results. You cannot events such as this so make sure you have something constructive to do when these worries pop into your head. If you are a constant worrier then this might be difficult, however with practice you can eliminate the ‘uncontrollable’ worries altogether.
- Working through your worries
Look at each worry you have, and even better write them down in a book. Go through each worry and decide if you will be able to do something about each one.
If there is nothing you can do, then use distraction to eliminate that particular worry from your mind.
Take steps to reduce your anxiety and worry, for example if you are worrying about debt, make calls to the debtors to work out a plan, this way you reduce the worry.
- Distracting yourself
As we have seen there are some worries which help us to take action and some worries which we cannot take action on. For the worries we cannot take action on we need to find a way to distract ourselves.
Here are a few things we can do.
- Exercise – even if it’s going for a walk and listening to music on your MP3 player.
- Mental games – Crosswords, Sudoku, reading, etc.
- Call a friend or family member
- Do the housework
The only times we should be using the distraction techniques above are if there is no way we can do something about out worries. Do not use these techniques as a way of avoiding your worries.
How do you deal with worry?
Why not share some of your coping strategies to help other readers. Are you a born worrier? Do you worry constantly? How do you cope with worry and what are some of your coping strategies.
|Written on 10/09/2009 by Steven Aitchison. Steven is the Author of Change Your Thoughts and works as an alcohol and drugs counselor. He has a BSc in Psychology and has a passion for studying belief formation, thought processes and values and principles. His blog focuses on personal development through changing your thoughts but covers the whole personal development field.||Photo Credit: Alyssa L. Miller|