Are you a worrier? Does anxiety prevent you living life to the full? Are your thoughts full of what might happen and what could go wrong? Is this the way you want to be? No…? So stop worrying right now!
Easier said than done. Anxiety and worry are natural and everyone gets worried at some point in their life. Trouble is, some of us make a habit of it. It becomes part of our self-talk – that monologue that accompanies us throughout our awake time. That’s when detrimental effects set in.
10 Negative Effects of Worrying
- Worry prevents you living fully in the moment.
- Worry sabotages your joy.
- Worry and anxiety distract you.
- Worry prevents you fully engaging your brain.
- Worry saps your vitality.
- When you are worrying, you aren’t loving.
- Worry negatively affects your health.
- Worry ages you.
- Worry means people avoid you.
- Worry makes you depressed.
There are other, less recognizable and more insidious effects of constant worry. Stress levels are increased for a start, and we all know that stress is detrimental to well-being and health. Worry keeps you awake at night, depriving you of all the benefits a good night’s sleep brings. Worry is exhausting – both physically and mentally. You may be holding yourself so rigidly, your shoulders never relax and your jaw is always tense. Long-term worry causes digestive issues, and often means you eat too much or too little. Worry will lower your libido and affect your relationships with other people.
You know you need to do something about it. Life was never meant to be this tough. But you can do this, you can make a decision to stop worrying right now. You can begin a worry-free life today.
"Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want." Abraham-Hicks
Practical Strategies to Stop Worrying
List your worries. Grab a notebook or journal and list all the things that you are worried about. They might include your partner or children, perhaps your job or money. You might be worried that your car is dying. Or your old dog is not doing so well. Just get all those worries down on paper. Once you’ve done that, breathe deeply. You’ve just taken them out of your head. Feel the momentary relief of not having them buzzing around your brain.
Recognize a worry-thought as soon as it appears. The key to stop worrying is to know when you are actually worrying. It may happen more often than you think. So, as you go through the day, note when a worry enters your mind. If it’s possible keep a note of each worry that pops up.
Separate your worries into two categories: situations you can do something about and situations you can’t do anything about. The ones you can do something about should go on a to-do list in order of priority. Do one or more things on the list every day. Keep a to-do list nearby all the time. Phone apps are excellent and there are some really helpful ones available.
The worries that plague you most are the ones you can’t control. They are usually ‘What if’s. What if this happens? What if that goes wrong? What if he meets someone? What if she gets ill? What if they get in an accident? What if I am left on my own? What if I lose my job? So address them head-on. Make another list of all your ‘what ifs’. Work out contingency plans for your perceived disasters. If you have a solid plan in place, then you don’t have to worry about it. In this way, you are effectively placing these big general worries on to a to-do list. You can’t plan for everything, but you can mitigate plenty by doing what you can.
Change Your Thoughts to Stop Worrying
So far, we’ve given you some practical ideas to prevent worry consuming your joy. But what if you do all that but still find yourself worrying. Worry has become your default setting. You need to stop worrying by changing your thinking.
- As before, keep track of your worry-thoughts. Identifying them sometimes shows how pointless it is to keep thinking them.
- Take a step back and observe the worry. You can think on two levels. In the forefront of your consciousness is the worry but somewhere in your mind is the observer. Simply noticing that you are in a state of worry, gives you an immediate separation from the thought. You are not the worry.
- Like all thoughts worry has energy. Worry thoughts have a low frequency vibration, which is why they lower your mood, physical responses and general energy levels. Are you going to let those low frequency thoughts get the better of you?
- Address your worry directly, say to yourself, “I see you, Worry. I’m too busy to think about you now. I’ll come back to you later.” And let it go.
- What makes you happy? What is it that helps you forget your worries? If you can identify activities that keep you in your happy place, do more of them. If you cannot do them all the time, create a mental vision of them and go there often. For example, Gina loves sewing. When she is making her quilts, she is always happy. Of course, she can’t make quilts all day long (unless it’s her business) but she can recreate the happy feeling of quilting in her mind and tap into it as soon as she notices that she is worrying.
- Get out of your head. You may notice that you are living in your own head all the time. So instead of going for a walk and not noticing anything around you because you are so immersed in your thoughts, start looking and listening. Pay attention to birds singing, flowers, trees, buildings, car license plates, anything that catches your eye. Really look at them. Notice the sky, the wind, the ground under your feet. Look for positive signs that things are improving. Notice how wonderfully the earth continues to turn and the sun appears over the horizon every morning – and you don’t even have to worry about it to make it happen.
- Make a list of everything that is good about your life. Add to your 'happy list' all the time. Every day. Repeat things that you really appreciate and add new ones. Even down to having milk in the fridge and your shampoo smells nice.
Using some or all of these strategies can help you stop worrying and live life like you were meant to.
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