Worry is a habit; one that many of us experience. It’s also a habit that can be overcome with some simple strategies.
I know, because I’ve transformed my own relationship with worry. I used to be a constant worrier. And if I wasn’t worried about something…I’d start to feel uncomfortable. It’s like I was always on the look out for something to go wrong.
At times, the impact of worry on my body left me feeling utterly exhausted. I experienced headaches, stomach upsets, dizziness and literally felt weak all over. The effects of chronic stress and worry was crippling how I felt within myself, my body and my life.
However ofter time, I found a way transform my relationship with worry; not by changing anything in my outer life, but by shifting the relationship within myself. As a result, I now feel at ease within my body and self, most of the time. Of course, I still have moments when worrying thoughts pop up; but when I do, I know what I need to do. I can apply the strategies that work, and quickly help myself restore a sense of balance and ease within myself.
Just as worry is learned over time, the ability to feel at ease and calm within our body and mind can be learned too (and it might be simpler than you think). With practice, your tendency to worry will naturally dissolve…and you’ll start to feel at peace within yourself and with the world.
To help you overcome worry in your life, I have three strategies I’d like to share:
1. Recognise what you can and can’t control.
Worrying is in no-way productive, and no amount of worrying will change a situation. Ever. Reminding yourself of this fact, and consciously recognising what you can and cannot control in a situation is empowering.
If there’s positive action you can take right now to change the situation that worries you, then take action. Immediately. If there’s no action for you to take right now, then reassure yourself that there’s nothing you need to do until you receive more information.
You can create an experience that’s full of worry, or one that’s calm. It’s your choice. Remember, thinking is not a form of action!
2. Realise that a thought is just a thought.
When you get consumed by worry, it’s helpful to remember that a thought is just a thought. A thought is not reality. So often we perceive our thoughts as reality, when instead, we’re simply living in our predictions of what the future will be, or allowing ourself to be stuck in the past.
Whether you have worrying thoughts or not, the world will remain the same. Ask yourself, “if you didn’t have the worrying thought, how would your experience be different?”
It’s also entirely up to you how much you ‘invest’ in the thoughts you have. Just because you have a thought, it doesn’t mean you need to put energy behind that thought. See if you can you notice your worrying thought without buying into it. Can you let the thought be there and acknowledge it, without allowing yourself to be consumed by it?
3. Be present to your whole self (not just your thinking).
When you’re in ‘worry’ mode, you’re completely stuck in your mind. As a result, you’re not really able to be present in the moment, because you’re tied up in the whirlwind of your thinking.
So here’s what I suggest. Rather than trying to stop your thinking, put your attention on bringing the other parts of who you are back into balance (that is, your physical, emotional and spiritual self).
You can do that by practicing being present in your body. Allow yourself to drop into your whole body, and be with all of who you are: notice what you’re feeling and sensing; notice your energy and sense of connection to the world.
By being present in your whole-self (rather than having all your energy concentrated in your mind) you’ll naturally start to feel more at ease.
4. Know that right in this moment, you are okay.
When you worry, your attention is not on the present moment. Instead, you’re stuck in thoughts about the future or the past. All the feeling and emotion that you would experience (in the future or the past) feel as if they are happening now.
So a simple approach to stop worrying is to remind yourself to come back into this moment. Be present. Look around yourself and notice where you are. Notice what is around you. Take a moment to really be where you are. And recognise that right now, in this very moment, you are okay.
Know that, even if you are not sure what the future holds, this present moment is a certainty and everything is okay.
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