When anxiety is draining your energy and dragging you down it’s time to try new strategies to overcome worry.
Worry is a part of the human condition, but it doesn’t have to be such a big part of our life.
We can literally worry ourselves sick and in the end, the worry doesn’t change anything. It makes zero impact on how things turn out. There is no worry-to-positive-outcome ratio.
Worry is simply a nuisance and drains our energy.
So, let’s talk about five ways we can help ourselves overcome worry so that it isn’t taking up as much of our energy and potentially causing anxiety, affecting our ability to live our best life.
1. Recognize worry is often irrational
Think about how we worry. We worry in anticipation of the most extreme and awful outcomes. You know, the ol’ I didn’t hear from you, so I figured you were dead in a ditch somewhere.
Which, rationally, we know has a slim chance of happening. It doesn’t always work, but often we can help ourselves overcome worry by realizing we have generated these dreadful thoughts and unlikely events with our own minds.
And if our minds can generate fear and worry, it is reasonable that we can talk ourselves out of the extreme level of worry; perhaps convince ourselves we are being irrational and take our wildly worried mind down a notch to a more normal, concerned.
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” – The Dalai Lama
2. Let it come and let some go
We’ve established we can’t completely stop ourselves from worrying. Therefore, when worry starts to boil up it’s important to acknowledge it. To recognize why we’re spiraling in negative thoughts, much of which are exaggerated. It’s always because of underlying fear. Occasionally the fear is rational, most often it’s not.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles it takes away today’s peace.” – Zig Ziglar
Allow yourself to feel the worry but not to let it consume you.
Breathe… It may be impossible to release all worry, but by calmly and objectively thinking about how you’ve let the worry run wild, you can help yourself let much of it go.
3. Empower yourself
Sometimes worry ramps up and out of control because we feel out of control. Feeling like we have no power over the outcome we are worried about can leave us even more worried!
But the truth is, we often have more control than we think we do. If we worry over the worst-case scenario, it can be helpful to consider the what then.
What if that happened? What could we do. What would do?
Roll over and die? Nope, we’d deal with it.
Like every other unpleasant event that comes our way.
Thinking through how we would cope with a negative situation can help us feel more empowered and less anxious.
4. Plan action
If you’re in a worry cyclone over what you think will be a potentially awful situation, mentally review all the solid facts for why you think this will happen.
Reminder: Not every thought we have is true.
Now, force yourself to review the possibilities that it won’t turn out that badly.
Decide what is most likely and replace the worry with a plan of action. Are there actions you can take to prevent or correct the situation? What actions can take that will help you or your loved one cope?
Overcoming potential challenges with a proposed plan of action is a far more productive use of your mental energy than pacing in place with anxiety, feeling helpless.
And sometimes, as you’re planning your course of action against the shadow of your ginormous worry, you begin to think about how exaggerated your view of the feared outcome is to begin with.
5. Talk it out
Sometimes speaking the worry out loud, to a friend or even to yourself, helps reduce anxiety and can bring calm and clarity.
When you’re talking about it aloud, you can begin to unravel what your underlying fears are, assess if you’re being rational, and then begin to release the worry stranglehold.
If you’ve shared your worry with a friend, speaking (or even texting or emailing) your worries will likely provoke a reassuring response. At the very least, you will no longer be facing your worry alone.
You can overcome worry (but, some worry is unavoidable)
Worry is one of the characteristics that makes us human and sets us apart from other species, (who btw, don’t seem to worry at all!).
Notice how our pets live in the present, in the now, not fretting about what may or may not happen in the coming moments, hours, days…
It’s only our human noggin that permits our future-fears-gone-wild to take over.
By the same token, it’s our human mind that allows us to be inspired, to grow and to learn new ways to overcome worry that work for us.
And P.S. with National Institute of Mental Health polls showing that teens and young adults are suffering more worry and anxiety than ever before, modeling how-to-overcome-worry techniques might help our kids cope better too.
Cheers to working on strategies to overcome worry and to living our best life!
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