I’m a worry wart. I obsess on details, and let them consume me, especially when I feel out of control about something or someone. I’ve started to give myself the “day off” from worrying, which does give me some room between my worrying mind and being present.
What about you? How do you deal with worry? Here are 10 suggestions for you, based on things I’ve personally used to deal with worry.
1. Create a to-do list, or a “worry jar”: Deal with the top 2 things on the list first, and get those done or dealt with. Then move on to the next ones. Cut through your list two-by-two.
2. Practice the mantra: “Today, I’ll give myself a permission to stop worrying.” And then, if you need to, come back to worrying when you’re off your break.
3. Check to see if your worry is based in reality: they may be distortions, or not grounded in what’s really happening, or about to happen. Disprove any irrational beliefs that may fuel the worry.
4. Check out possible assumptions with others: if your worry is based on assumptions, you should check out those assumptions with those you’re assuming about, because, much of the time, the assumptions prove to be fruitless and just plain wrong.
5. Reach deeper into the emotional “gut” of your worry: worry is of the mind; emotions are deeper into the heart, gut and body. If you can bring your awareness into the physical body, you may discover the worry is masking your emotions, and if you can stay in contact with your emotions, the worry tends to dissipate.
5. Meditate: mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool, and much has been said about this in recent years. There are plenty of good resources on the web, Amazon, Ted talks, etc. that can guide you.
6. Talk a walk: exercise helps you get into your body, and when you’re in your body, you tend to inhabit your mind less (unless you use the exercise time to worry!). Get out in nature, get into your body, and get out of your worrying mind.
7. Talk it out: find a confidant, close friend, or spouse to share your worries with. You’ll find that just the process of releasing the worry through verbal communication with do a lot to break up the worrisome thoughts.
8. Seek therapy: therapy is a good alternative to finding friends to talk with, who may be biased or not understand exactly what is going on with you. There may be other, deeper reasons for the worry that you may not be aware of, that have plagued you unconsciously for years and generate your worrying mind.
9. Practice acceptance: can you accept the situation/person/thing/experience you’re having that causes anxiety or worry for you, without changing it? I know we think that if we worry, we’ll somehow change or affect the situation if we stay on top of it mentally, but by developing acceptance about the trigger to our worry, we can learn to let go of the clinging that worry characterizes.
10. Write out a thought log: This is used by CBT therapists (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help their clients deal with irrational thoughts and beliefs, and I found this worksheet you can use to help you slow down and identify all of the components to a worrying mind. Start to use this to track your worry like data.
One for posterity: yoga does a lot to help you get out of your head, and into your body and experience. Try a yoga class, or just find a good yoga video online, clear a space out in your home, and commit to an hour class to see if it works for you.
Hope you find yourself worrying less! Try one or two of these strategies, and build from there. Track your worry from day to day, using a phone app like Day One or Apple’s Notes for iOS (Yeah, I’m an Apple user).