Note to self; Worry will NEVER change the outcome, Love me
I could write this blog just using ‘worry quotes’ – whilst putting this blog together I did a bit of googling (as you do!) and I came across so many quotes related to worrying that I genuinely could have used them not just to pad it out but to write the whole blog, there are so many out there! Worry is obviously a big thing; I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t worry about something, no matter how small.
So … why a blog about worrying? Excuse the irony but it does worry me about how much I personally worry and it is something I see a lot in other people too. I thought if maybe I put pen to paper to write about this worrying thing then maybe I could achieve two things. Firstly to help myself be less of a worrier whilst, at the same time, hoping that, what I write, could resonate with someone who reads this blog and then I can help them as well to address their worry.
What is worry??? ‘Worry refers to the thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats.’ (Wikipedia.org) I also love the description of worry being like a rocking chair in that ‘it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere’ – how true.
I personally find that I convince myself that I have to worry about something otherwise I think that that something I’m worrying about will actually happen! Somewhere in my warped logic I think that the worrying will stop it happening. I seem to worry from the minute I awaken until the time I go to bed plus I’m sure I worry whilst sleeping too, a bit like my thinking that I seem to do all the time! I have rational worries but I also have irrational ones, knowing they’re irrational though still doesn’t stop the worrying. Being tired makes me worry more, as does being under stress, or an emotional situation, and the reverse can be true as well – worry can make me tired, worry can cause/add to stress and the effects of an emotional situation.
However … research suggests that 85% of what we worry about ‘DOESN’T’ happen and, of the 15% that does happen, the majority of people actually handle this much better than they thought they would and/or learn something from it that improved their life. ‘This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions’ (Huffingtonpost.com).
I love the following quote from Michel do Montaigne who, five hundred years ago, said “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened”. We seem to spend our lives worrying about things that we needn’t worry about and that, most of the time, we couldn’t do anything about anyway.
Do we need to worry less?
I personally don’t think it’s necessary to stop worrying all the time, I think a better approach is to manage the worrying – some worry can be healthy and normal and enable us to be that bit more careful/cautious in some circumstances. It’s when the worrying becomes debilitating that perhaps something needs to be done.
Whilst researching I came across some ‘worry flow charts’, and I think that this is a good first step you can take when deciding whether your worry is justified/rational or not. This can be down to interpretation though, remember, because what you might see as being a problem someone else might not – you have got to make sure it’s about how you perceive the situation/worry that you’re having. Don’t worry about anybody else!
Ask yourself is there something I can do about this situation? If so, do it, if not and it’s out of your control then let it go, don’t let it occupy your mental space. Too much of our mental energy is used up with worrying whereas if we could just let the worry go we could be using this energy so much more productively.
Being a worrier myself I understand so well that unfortunately it’s not easy to just ‘not worry’, it is so ingrained in a lot of us that we worry when we’re not worrying! However, excessive worry is not good for our health and wellness and if this is you then yes something needs to be done to remove, or reduce/minimise, the worry so that you are able to function normally. If your worry has become out of control and has led to anxiety, stress, depression, OCD, then it may be an idea to pay a visit to a health professional to seek assistance in the first instance – I’ve always found therapy/counselling to be a really beneficial route to take, it’s just about finding the right therapist/counsellor/group for you and acquiring the right tools to use in managing the worrying.
Take some time out and try to calm your thought processes – I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started to use an app called Headspace, only for 10 minutes a day when I manage to make the time! I want to reduce my ‘worrying’, I want to be able to relax and be more chilled and use up my mental energy in a more productive and efficient manner. Using the Headspace app has started to help me channel my thoughts in a more focused way, yes I still have worry within me but I am a work in progress and it’s one of the steps I am taking in order to achieve this.
Stop worrying about other people who are not worried about you – this is another area in which so much time is wasted. We worry about what other people think about what we say, what we do, how we dress, how we speak, who we’re friends with, what our job is, how we like to spend our time and so on, the list is endless. But all this does is stop you being true to yourself and it can stop you doing the things you really want to do, it can hinder the relationships that you want to have/be in, it can stop you applying for a job you have coveted for so long, it can stop you being friends with someone you really get on with because you worry about what other people think of that person. Ask yourself do they worry about what you think? Does what you think stop them doing what they want to do?
Make Lifestyle Changes – what you eat and drink can, and does, affect your brain chemistry and your moods, your anxiety, your stress. Reduce your worrying by being aware of what you put into your body and the effect it has and remember you don’t want to eat more than you need or less than you need because this again can have a detrimental effect on the body and the mind and, in turn, your level of worry and ability to manage/handle it. Do some research in this area, find out what the latest and most up-to-date scientific research is and what it says, find out who the experts are and what they say. Check out their experience, knowledge and qualifications – remember that there is a lot of out dated advice out there, yes even from those in the medical profession, and you could be doing yourself more damage than good.
Exercise – regular moderate exercise has been proven to be beneficial in enabling your body and mind to cope better with potentially stressful and worrying situations/circumstances – however, do be aware that exercise can be a stress in itself so the type and frequency of exercise undertaken is also important. Again, do some research in this area, find out what the latest and most up-to-date scientific research is and what it says, find out who the experts are and what they say. Check out their experience, knowledge and qualifications, don’t just follow the crowd and go with what is the current or most trendy exercise fad, find out what will work for you from someone who knows how to help you work this out.
Reduce caffeine intake – caffeine is a well-known stimulant which stimulates the nervous system and can lead to increased stress, anxiety and worry.The more you take the more you need and the more the worry, stress and anxiety can increase. There will be withdrawal symptoms depending upon how much caffeine you have so do be aware of that.
Spend time with, and read books by, people, who motivate, inspire and lift you up. People who don’t judge you – the more you feel motivated, inspired, lifted then you will start feeling better in yourself. The knock on effect being that you will be less prone to worry and/or letting worry taking up too much time in your life. You will be too busy being inspired, motivated and lifted!
Finally, take time for you, do something that makes you feel good, makes you happy, learn about yourself and what makes you tick. What helps to build your confidence and makes you feel good about yourself. The better you feel about yourself and your life the less worry will be playing a part.
I read a story about a 93 year old lady who when asked what her secret to looking so young was responded with - "30 years ago I made the decision to stop worrying and I haven't wasted a moment on worry since." The Huffington Post went on to say – ‘It was this decision that made her younger and healthier than her chronological age. Think of all the energy she gained through her decision not to worry. Think of all the anxiety she spared herself, all the needless stress she avoided. … it showed on her face, in her attitude, and in how well her brain functioned.’
So let’s all work on being like this lady and make that decision to just stop worrying, what will be will be and remember ‘worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace’.
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