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How to deal with worry

Do you know how to deal with worry?

A little worrying is only natural. It keeps us safe.

Without any worry, we’d never anticipate potential issues or dangers, nor would we be prepared to handle them. For example, if you don’t worry that it might be cold outside, you wouldn’t take a coat. If you don’t worry that you could get into a car accident, you probably wouldn’t wear your seatbelt or drive safely. Most of the time our worries are automatic. We don’t even notice them, and they don’t cause negative interference in our lives.

However, excessive worrying can be more harmful than helpful. This would look like laying in bed at night and thinking things to death until you are so twisted up inside you can’t figure anything out? 

We all have moments when life gets the better of us and the worry monster comes out of the shadows with a ravenous appetite and feasts on our brains until there is nothing left but waste (we all do that right? Not just me?)

When we worry, we not only bring in every situation imaginable of what could go wrong, we also trigger all the past situations where something didn’t go as planned. Worrying is a product of stress and anxiety and the psychological effects can be difficult to handle, sometimes severely so.

Too much worrying can cause you to become depressed or have repeated negative thought patterns. Excessive worrying also frequently causes people to be very irritable, because of raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol. People who worry a lot can be easily agitated and have difficulty communicating with others or maintaining healthy relationships. This is not to mention the physical effects of elevated levels of cortisol, like high blood pressure and feeling like you are dragging all day, every day.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you worry, you invite chaos into your mind and your life.” quote=”When you worry, you invite chaos into your mind and your life.”]

Dr. Michael Shermer says in his book Believing Brain that, “Our brains evolved to connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen. These meaningful patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs. This adds an emotional boost of further confidence in the beliefs and thereby accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop of belief confirmation.”

What he is saying is that we create what we believe. If you are racked with worry, you will eventually bring into your life all those things you are worried about.

Now that you know What worry is (and why it is such a bad idea), it’s time to understand How do deal with worry:

  1. Listen to your thoughts and remember that they are just thoughts. You are not you thoughts, they are just a ticker tape flowing though your head. Don’t get caught up in them and label them as who you are and what you believe. Instead, simply listen to them, laugh if necessary at their absurdity, and move on to the next thought. If you don’t like what you are thinking, change it. You have the power to reframe your reality as you see fit.
  2.  Stay present. When you worry you are in the future. When you find yourself wrapped up with worry do something to bring your mind back to the now. By focusing on something in the present, a pretty flower, a song, even exercise, you will get out of your head and come back to earth. This way you can deal with what is instead of what could be.
  3. Honor your feelings.  When we are worried there is always a feeling behind the worry that is the driving force. Honor whatever that is. Are you scared? Angry? Call whatever the feeling is out and accept it for what it is. Going with the flow of acceptance instead of fighting or judging the feeling will calm it down.
  4.  Let go of control. We worry because we are trying to control the situation at hand. This never ends well. Be letting go of control, you release the worry with it because they are tied together.
  5.  Stay on course. Worry is just fear trying to create enough chaos to derail you from your path.  Don’t let fear win and don’t back down from it either. If you are doing something that is aligned with your truth, keep going regardless of how scary it may feel. You will be glad you did.

How do you handle worry? I would love to hear in the comments section.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Cat Paterson

    Great post and helpful insight as well as steps to tackle it right now…nip it in the bud folks!

  • Dermot

    Thanks for those tips Lisa! I have been a worrier my whole life. I’m currently fighting it with mindfulness and I must admit that it does help me to observe and contextualize the worry. If it can be categorized then it can be solved!
    Another way I deal with worry is walking away from it – literally! I try to take a short walk, preferably in a natural environment but I’ll pace the room if I have to. Getting some quiet time helps me work on the problem and moving kind of tricks me into believing that I’m doing something. I’ll try adding these tips to my walks the next time.

  • Kelly

    Staying present is one of my hardest tasks. My mind is typically 10 steps ahead of my body. Thanks for the reminder!

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