Like me, probably already know worry intimately, regardless of who you are or where you are on your life’s journey. I used to be a worrier. I thought I was alone in this, but everybody worries at some point in time. It's a normal part of life. Getting rid of anxiety and worry is tough though.
Closely related to anxiety or fear, worry happens in your mind. Worry is nothing more than a negative thought regarding the outcome of a situation, intruding in on your other thoughts. This can build to become anxiety and fear when worry is constant and it affects all parts of your life - decision making, relationships, plus your health and well being.
If you’re finding it difficult to focus on any task at hand or to let go of your worry, then chances are your worry could start at an unhealthy level. It’s definitely time to put your attention somewhere else.
When worry gets to a high level, you can start to feel it, physically. You may start experiencing symptoms such as an upset stomach, headaches, and even chest pains if left alone without being checked.
When trying something new, worry can creep in, this is natural. However, if when stepping into a new experience and you find your mind wandering off into the world of negative thought patterns about worst-case scenarios about what could happen, this is a sign that you are letting your imagination run away with you, and worry takes over. In this case, it often leads to anxiety or crippling fear to stop you from moving ahead.
Unreasonable worry can become obsessive. You can worry about things in the past or future over which you have no control. Here’s where you need to ask yourself if this is even something to be worried about right now?
"...Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34 - The Bible)
It used to really tick me off when that Bobby McFerrin song used to come on the radio (Don't Worry be Happy) or when someone simply said "Don't worry about it!" - it's easy to say, a lot harder to do. Here are some of the things that I used to put my worries to bed once and for all:
Gratitude is a powerful way to redirect negative thoughts away from your worry. The great thing about gratitude is the very act of being thankful looks for what’s positive around you, leaving no room for worry. Make a daily list of things that you are thankful for before you start each day.
Talk to someone. We often live lives full of isolation and we can fester in our own put of worry. Finding someone just to chat to will help. If you feel like it’s hard to open up to your friends, finding a counsellor to chat to will help and have the added benefit of getting guidance on how to move past your worry completely.
Try journaling. Much like talking, writing out your feelings about your worry has a way of releasing it from your mind and putting it somewhere you can deal with it. Many people find writing their fears to be very cathartic.
Listen to some uplifting music. Positive lyrics from some songs or even simply beautiful classical music can help lift worry from your mind. As a Christian I often listen to worship music to help me shift my focus, I couple this with prayer also.
I found the best way for me to get rid of my worry was to stay busy. Worry hates when we get busy because our brains get so caught up in what we’re doing, we forget to worry at all. Try exercising, engaging in a hobby, or calling a friend to go out somewhere the next time you’re worried.
Food and water! You’ll be amazed at how negative your thoughts can become when you’re not feeling well or you are not fuelled in the right way. Too much sugar has been proven to affect our brain functions, as can many of the ingredients in processed food. Dehydration also. Switching things up to start eating more healthily and drinking plenty of water will really impact how much time you spend worrying.
Worry takes time to conquer, so don’t be afraid to put in the work involved to change your life. Starting from a position of understanding what’s really going on will help to guide your actions moving forward. Once you’re ready to act, step out boldly and with confidence.
Don’t let worry live your life for you. There’re too many amazing adventures out there waiting for you. Isn’t it time you discovered what they are?
Whatever you do though, don't walk this path alone. Find someone to talk to, a friend or professional, and become worry-free!
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