While you can worry yourself sick, literally, I think there also healthy ways of worrying and managing worry.
There are different types of worry that we all experience. We worry about natural disasters. We worry about our health and the health of our family. We worry about money, safety, the past and the future.
Sometimes we think our worries are silly, but even the silly worries take our time and attention. The kind of worry that makes us sick is hopeless worry, worry without action.
The following actionable steps will help you use your worries for good, instead of turning them into a sleepless night.
Ways to be un-worried.
- Close the gap between awareness and action. The very best thing you can do to shut down your worry is to be proactive. What can you do to manage the reality of your worry. Worried that you are gaining weight? Go to your freezer and toss the ice cream or go to the store and buy apples. Worried about money? Open a savings account and deposit $10.00. Do something besides ponder your worry.
- Put things in perspective. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. One of the symptoms of MS is Optic Neuritis which can cause double vision or blindness. Every morning for three months after my diagnosis, I worried. Just before I opened my eyes after waking, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to see. I never lost my vision, but when I worry, I compare my thoughts to how I felt then. It takes away the power of my worries. Don’t compare your worries to mine, but think back to something that really shook your soul, and put your worries in check.
- Prove your worry wrong. You might worry that will get bad grades or fail at work. Remind yourself of your history and ability. I’ve worried that I won’t be able to write something meaningful. To prove that worry wrong, I read your comments. Sometimes I worry that I haven’t taught my daughter enough, or that she isn’t listening to me and then I see the person that she has become.
- Give your worry away. If you cannot take action that will make you un-worried, maybe there is someone that can. If you are worried about the health of a loved one, let them know, so they can take action. If you are worried about something too big to handle, give it to God. You don’t have to take care of everything.
- Get distracted. When a worry crosses your mind that you aren’t ready to handle, write it down and do something else. Calm down, soothe your soul and come back to it when you are ready. Don’t mull it over, chew on it and please, don’t sleep on it. That is a lost night of sleep you can never get back.
- Don’t confuse worry with something else. Sometimes worry isn’t worry at all. It might be sadness, anger or annoyance. When I read about the Earthquake in Japan, I thought I was worried for days. As it turns out, I was sad, deeply sad for so much loss.
- Identify the worst. A great question to ask when you are worried, is “If my worry becomes reality, what is the worst thing that will happen?” Take it a step further. Ask yourself if the worst thing happens, how will it affect your life today, tomorrow and in 5 years. Chances are it will be long forgotten in 5 years. The answers may not be as bad as you thought, and if they are, articulating them will let you close the gap between action and awareness.
Tammy Strobel writes about emergency preparedness in the way of food storage and what that will look like in her tiny house, along with her way of handling worry. It made me think about all other ways we can be prepared to stave off worry.
- Worried about health? Eat well.
- Worried about money? Save some.
- Worried about your relationships? Work on them.
If these suggestions are not helpful, or if your worry turns to anxiety, it might help to talk with a professional. How to know if you should worry about your worrying…
- Worry paralyzes you.
- Worry keeps you up at night, every night.
- Worry is hurting your relationships.
- Worry makes you sick.
In my experience, the scary things that happen to us aren’t the things that we devote so much time worrying about. A good friend of mine used to say, “Worrying is like borrowing trouble.” What she meant is that when you worry about something that hasn’t happened, you still experience it to a certain degree, by just thinking about it. When worry comes your way, handle it, don’t live in it. Everything will be ok.
What do you worry about? What were you worried about this time last year?